'Tis the Gift to be Simple...

"Simple Gifts" was written by Elder Joseph in 1848 while he was at a Shaker community.  These are the lyrics to his one-verse song:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.


Can you believe Thanksgiving is just a few days away?  With the holiday season often comes gift giving.  Resist the urge to stand in the long lines of Black Friday.  Instead, be open to the idea that simple gifts may be the best.  

One of the best gifts my parents received was a surprise party for their 40th  wedding anniversary in September.  My sister Julie and I started planning the event months in advance.  I was the only one living in Saint Louis, so preparing for this party was challenging.  After mailing and emailing out-of-town relatives and friends several times, the day had finally arrived! Over 40 guests traveled from afar to join in the celebration.  Julie stayed at my parent’s home, and guests gathered at a local restaurant for the surprise.  The facial expression and tears of joy on my parents’ faces as they entered the restaurant are unforgettable! 

As you think about your family’s celebration this holiday season, please reflect on the celebration itself.  What are you really trying to accomplish?  For many, it is dedicated time with family.  Free of distraction and arguments. 

In happiness studies, experiences are far more meaningful than tangible items.  If you set a goal earlier this year to take a big family trip, perhaps the trip can be the gift.  Or if a vacation is out-of-reach, consider purchasing just one gift for each child rather than multiple presents.  Time is one of our most precious resources.  Maybe your son or daughter would like to have an afternoon of one-on-one time with mom or dad, away from siblings.  Here are some gift-giving ideas for various age groups:

Toddlers & Preschoolers

1.     Bounce house

2.     “Little gym” for a real energy release

3.     Ice cream or other dessert


Young Kids (ages 5 – 9)

1.     Bowling

2.     Arcade

3.     Lunch or dinner out

4.     Indoor rock climbing or trampoline center


Entire Family

1.     Bake cookies and other sweet treats

2.     Visit a holiday light display

3.     Partake in a holiday-themed festival

4.     Watch a movie together at home

5.     Play indoor games; our kids love kickball in the unfinished basement


These are just a few ideas.  If you have any other suggestions, please add them below! 

Obviously, the key is to make it meaningful to the recipient.  For those families with older kids, I’m not there yet.  Would love to hear your suggestions to incorporate them into next year’s holiday tips.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Deb Meyer, CPA, CFP®


a { border-bottom: none !important; }