Gift Giving: Share Gifts, Make Memories and Shop Local

Written by By Jorrie Johnson Photography by Fagan Studios

What does gift giving mean to you? Do you enjoy giving of yourself, your time and your talents, or do you prefer purchasing gifts to wrap with a big red bow and put under the tree? Gift giving shows someone that you value them and who they are. 

The gifts we give are a reflection of what makes us feel loved. According to Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages,” there are five main ways that people speak and understand emotional love: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. For a good relationship, it is important for the giver to know how the receiver feels loved, what speaks to them.     


Do you knit, garden, write or sing? No matter your talent, you can probably share that with a friend or two or the whole community. It’s fun to take a class to learn a new skill and then share your result. There are art classes, music, cooking and canning classes through community education, specialty shops or learning centers that you can take or give the class fee and supplies as a gift for any age. 


If you love handmade items but don’t think you’ll finish the quilt before Christmas, check out the Mayo Clinic Employee Craft Show on Saturday, November 18 or the Handcrafted Bazaar at First Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, December 2. 

If you are musically talented, then you’ve probably been practicing for weeks or months for your upcoming holiday concert. For those of us who enjoy the talents of others, mark your calendar for your favorite student’s holiday recital and concerts. Start the holiday musical season with RAACHE Choirs Harmonies Fall Concert at Zumbro Lutheran Church on November 16-17 or Rochester Chamber Music Society free concert on December 2. Enjoy the Rochester Symphony Orchestra Sounds of the Season concert on December 16. Plan to get your tickets early for the annual Bella Voce Christmas concert December 15-17.  And, simply enjoy the traditional music at your place of worship.

Make the time you spend with family and friends memorable. Take the time to bake cookies with children and participate in a cookie exchange with friends. Give the gift of a theatre show or concert to spend time together. Plan a family vacation to a ski resort or somewhere far away to escape the harsh Minnesota winter together. 


Where and when you buy a gift can be as personal as what you buy for someone. In Rochester, we have a good selection of locally-owned gift shops to find the special gifts for everyone on your list. Shop local on Small Business Saturday, November 25 in downtown Rochester. 

I like to find gifts that say “I love you” for my family members and friends. I am on a budget and schedule, so I need to plan out how I spend my time and money. I spend the most on my three children, including some wants and needs. I allot for my parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins and friends. It gets to be expensive to buy for and exhausting to spend time with everyone. Last year, I told my brothers and sister I was only going to buy birthday gifts for them (their birthdays are all in November and December), but no Christmas gifts. Spending thoughtful time together has been more valuable since living away. I hope that over the holiday season, we can at least get in touch and maybe discuss plans for getting together next year. 

Receiving gifts gracefully can be just as much of a gift as giving. Accept the kindness of others. Say “thank you” in person with a hand-written note or even a text message. It will warm someone’s heart and make them feel loved in return.


Jorrie Johnson is the publisher and editor of Rochester Women magazine. Last year for Christmas, she took her 18-year-old son to a concert of his choice.