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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
192 pages
Jul 2003

Homespun Gifts from the Heart

by Karen Ehman, Kelly Hovermale

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1


—for the HEART

How would you describe the perfect gift? The one that says, “You’re special”; “You’re loved and cherished”; “You matter and here’s why.” Such a gift probably wouldn’t be that one-size-fits-all item, the certificate to a catalog, or the predictable tie for Dad, or perfume for Mom. Nor would it be a generic, cookie-cuttertype gift or trendy product of the season picked up on a quick trip to the mall. No, those gifts say something more like, “I needed to get you something, and this fit into my busy schedule.”

The unforgettable gift, however, is the one that’s personal, the one that says: “You’re worth it—worth the time, worth the effort, worth the thought.” It’s

  • the basket of mouthwatering muffins tied with a favorite-colored bow for your frazzled friend
  • a nostalgic, feel-good movie slipped into a bright sack with a fun mug and aromatic tea for a neighbor who is shut in on a wintry day
  • turkey noodle soup mix, layered beautifully in an antique jar, for the aunt who’s just hosted
  • Thanksgiving dinner for the clan

While a perfect gift is unique and hand-selected with love and attention, it’s not necessarily handmade. This book will show you just what that means. With more than 200 ideas for creative, memorable, encouraging, homespun gifts you’ll find all kinds of inspiration and how-tos for pulling together something lovely and unforgettable. And you won’t need a glue gun in one hand and recipe card in the other.

A Word to the Craft-Challenged

You need not love to sew, be the craft queen of your circle of friends, or have a lot of art smarts to create the perfect gift.

We know! As coauthors and friends we couldn’t be more different. Kelly and Trish can work wonders with all sorts of arts and crafts supplies, and they love to sew. They can spot a darling pair of curtains and head home to the sewing machine saying, “We can make that!”

Karen, however, is quite craft impaired. The thought of picking up a glue gun sends chills down her spine—and when she spies a lovely set of curtains, her instinct is to head home, whip out her VISA card, and exclaim, “I can order that!”

A child showed Karen that you don’t need to rely on catalog orders and credit cards for extraordinary gifts. One day toward the end of Karen’s third pregnancy, when she was napping, her six-year-old left a gift by her bed: a little coaster under a cup of mint tea. Made from scrap material trimmed by pinking shears, the coaster was simply but sweetly stitched with bright thread and buttons for ornaments. An accompanying note read:

Dear Mom,

Thank you for having another baby for our family.
I love you.

From Mackenzie

The gift itself was small, the love behind it strong, and the timing perfect. Karen thought about the materials used (just little things on hand) and the preparation time, which was as brief as her catnap.

What took so little time has remained a lasting memory. The lesson Karen learned was clear: If her six-year-old daughter could make a priceless gift, then she could too.

The Heart of the Matter

Whether you’re a Kelly, a Trish, or a Karen, the first step to making perfect gifts is to rouse your creative juices, and one of the best ways is to begin by thinking in terms of themes.

For instance, does someone on your gift list love to garden? Do you know a person who sits for hours with seed catalogs or dreamily talks about what to plant in spring and pull at harvesttime?

Why not make your next gift to that person a large basket or miniature wheelbarrow filled with seeds, herbs, a pair of gardening gloves, a trowel, small terracotta pots, and herb-scented hand lotion or soap to use after working in the soil? Add a bottle of flavored iced tea and a loaf of homemade zucchini bread tied up in a floral bow (who knew eating your veggies could be so tasty?), and you have the perfect gift for that garden lover!

Do you see, craft queens and art-departed friends, alike: Themed gifts can involve as much or as little craftiness as you want. (Who says you can’t rely on a prepackaged zucchini bread mix now and then, wrapped your own way with personalized instructions?)

--------------------- Sidebar

The Bible is full of examples of powerful gift-giving. Remarkably, these examples show that those who give often receive the greater gift—grace and a taste of heaven. Take a look.

  • Abraham and Sarah entertained three strangers at Mamre and delighted them with a gift of food—and it was through these recipients that the Lord told Abraham that Sarah would have a son.
  • The poor widow of Zarephath shared her last bit of food with a wandering prophet. The widow had been preparing to make bread for herself and her son when Elijah turned up on her doorstep and asked for something to eat. The widow put this stranger in need ahead of herself—and her family. In the end, God rewarded the widow during the long drought that followed, making sure she never ran out of flour or oil to make bread for her family.
  • The little lad who supplied two fish and five loaves of bread made possible Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, showing how generosity can result in a greater good for the kingdom of God.


So who else is on your gift list?

  • a chocolate lover?
  • a barbecue grilling wanna-be?
  • a raspberry connoisseur?
  • a baseball fanatic?
  • a grandpa who loves to fish?

Ideas will begin to flow as you redirect your energy from wandering department store aisles in search of “what to get for this occasion” to “whom do I want to celebrate and what makes them wonderful?”

May words from what we consider one of our greatest gifts—the Bible—motivate you as it does us: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

That’s what a homespun gift really is—a little grace, like a piece of your heart that you leave behind.

-------------------- The Greatest Gift

No book on gift-giving would be complete without mention of the greatest gift ever given—and why—from the best-selling book of all time.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The verse says it all. Every person has done things that displease God and fall short of His holy standards. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God, in His great love for every person, offers to all the free gift of eternal life! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Anyone who believes God sent His only Son to die for us—taking the punishment that we deserve—can enjoy this gift.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). There’s nothing anyone can do to earn eternal life—it is a gift with no strings attached.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Once the gift is received by faith, there’s joy and assurance of eternal life through Jesus Christ. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).


Thinking Outside the (Gift) Box

When it comes to gift-giving, you’re sure to have friends and relatives on your lists every season. But are there others? Whom do you cross paths with every week? How might you touch a life with a little something for a silly reason, or no reason at all, just to show you care?

Whether it’s the crossing guard at the corner, your barber or hairdresser, the woman who plays piano at church week after week, or the retired gentleman who bags your groceries in a careful manner, there are people all around you who would be surprised—and grateful—to know you care about them.

Karen discovered this when her family moved to St. Johns, Michigan. In this small Midwestern town, the big excitement of the day was the arrival of the mail. Karen and her kids eagerly looked forward to what their postman, Mr. Brown, would bring to their doorstep: letters, flyers, news from the world beyond their front yard. Mr. Brown made every day special just by doing his job with a smile, the kids decided, so why not create one day especially fun for him?

They pooled their change for a gift certificate so Mr. Brown could take Mrs. Brown out for a nice supper to “the best place to eat in town”: the Dairy Queen. At the Dollar Store they found a squirt gun, perfect for warding off ill-mannered or pesky dogs along the mail route. Back home, they baked cookies and brewed some iced tea, ready to be poured for quick refreshment on a hot day. Voila! Mr. Brown Day was about to commence.

As Mr. Brown eased his way around the corner of their walkway the next morning, the kids jumped onto the front steps, blowing party horns and tossing confetti in the air. “Surprise!” they shouted. “Mr. Brown—best mailman in town! This is officially Mr. Brown Day!”

Mr. Brown smiled, gratefully sipped the tea, and enjoyed the cookies, compliments, and gifts. Then he pocketed the gift certificate, secured the squirt gun to his knapsack, and went on his way. A few weeks later, Karen was cleaning little fingerprints off the living room picture window when Mr. Brown showed up at his usual time with the daily mail. She went outside to greet him.

“You know,” he said, taking off his sunglasses, “I’ve been a mailman in this town for thirtythree years, and no one has ever done anything like what your family did for me.” He shook his head and smiled. “Thank you. I’m still not over Mr. Brown Day.”

Neither are Karen’s kids. They’re itching now to do good, love well, and give gladly. Imagine—how might some gift from your heart change someone else’s life—and yours?