Sixteen Christmas Gifts for 2016

Each year, I usually offer a list of Christmas gift suggestions and often ask different groups of people for ideas. This year, I asked fourth graders and people at the UW Carbone Cancer Clinic. I hope you find the list helpful!

See you in church!
Pastor Tom


1. Why Should I Trust the Bible? by A. Trevor Sutton. This book answers the tough questions about the Bible. Is the Bible racist? Filled with errors and edits? Is it a myth? $11.99 on Amazon or through Concordia Publishing House.

2. Community Meal. Last October, Immanuel hosted our first community meal in cooperation with Mary Sandner, the founder of the Community Meal, and her team. We will host another Meal on January 12 where everyone eats free of charge. $25 will feed five people. If you’d like to make a donation, just write a check to Immanuel with “Community Meal” in the memo line and we will send one check to Mary.

3. Happy Times A preschool Magazine filled with Tell-Me-About Jesus moments. Filled with stories, hands-on crafts, songs, and kid-friendly recipes for faith-filled family fun. 1-year subscription $16.50 from Concordia Publishing House.

4. Living a Chocolate Life by Deb Burma. Written with a fun chocolate theme, each session includes at least one recipe for a chocolate dessert item, a Bible verse to memorize, chocolate trivia, and suggestions for group activities. Answers are provided in the back. Created for women 18 years and older, this study is ideal for women who have never attended a Bible study. $9.99 on Amazon

5. A Skeleton in God’s Closet by Paul L. Maier. A ‘Theological Thriller’ which explores the tension between doubt and faith, science and religion, and one man’s determination to find the truth―no matter what the cost. Amazon offers this paperback for $9.60 and other formats for less.

6. Felt Advent Calendar. Count down the days to Christmas while celebrating the true meaning of the season with this Advent calendar! Children will love affixing a different figure each day to help create a charming and colorful manger scene. Available for $35.00 from Concordia Publishing House.

7. Not-So-Nice Bible Stories: Gory Deaths by Jonathan Schkade. For the young adult to adult reader, this is a book of true tales of people who lived and died long ago – with few happy endings. It digs deep in the muck of life, the sinful, the sinister, the sneaky; and most importantly, shows how Jesus conquers death and gives you life. Drowned, burned, hanged, crushed, stabbed, eaten by dogs — not for the weak of heart. Available through Amazon for $12.18.

8. Goat, Piglet, Cow, Sheep, Hen and Chicks, Donkey and Cart or even worms are all available through Lutheran World Relief. From $16 - $375 you can feed a family in Latin America, Africa or Asia. Animals not you thing? How about sending toys to a needy child, or providing emergency supplies, water systems, or provide seedlings to Tanzania, Bolivia, Nepal or the Philippines. Check out the LWR gift catalog at

9. Remember Immanuel Lutheran School. A tax deductible gift of any denomination earmarked for Tuition Assistance will help a family keep their child(ren) at our school. This year Tuition is $5994 or $4140 for an Immanuel member but any amount is appreciated. Online giving is available.

10. Remember Immanuel Church. A tax deductible gift for our General Fund will help a great deal to pay our salaries as well as the lights, heat and maintenance. Often we receive designated gifts, which we are extremely thankful for, but sometimes people neglect to contribute to the basic needs – like salaries and benefits which are the largest part of our annual budget. We could use a million dollars (Ha-Ha) but will take any gift . Online giving is available.

11. A gift for your wife. Husbands, remember that the “thought” doesn’t count if you give thoughtless gifts. Your gift should be something your wife wants, not a gift you would like, such as dinner for two at restaurant you’ve hinted at for years but she has shown no interest. If your wife has a sister, ask her for suggestions. Or ask her to make a list of things she would like. Try to avoid giving her a gift that is reserved for white elephant Christmas gift exchanges and housewarming parties. Include a card with your gift…take the card out of the bag and sign it!

12. A gift for your husband. As a husband with years of experience, I know my wife can make no mistakes when it comes to selecting gifts for me. She notices the clothes that have worn out, my hobbies, the tool that “fried” last summer, and the restaurant I long to check out. She doesn’t embarrass me with a tech gift I can’t figure out, a cheap gift card to a pricey store, or a Christmas tie/sweater.

13. Gifts for Teens. While it is easy to write a check and call it a day, giving a teen a gift that can be unwrapped is still exciting. Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless headphones, Portable Charger, Locker Room Prints, a multitool set, Bluetooth speaker and an iTunes gift card are all possibilities.

14. Gifts for the young adult, the recent grad, or the couple just starting off in their life together. Consider shirts and home accessories that speak the truth, an intricate shaving set for the man to keep that bun-to-beard ratio right and tight, anything that proclaims one’s love for the nectar of the gods and the world’s softest, smelliest cheeses, a biodegradable gift (organic bar soap to a hemp and yak wool scarf); upcycled planters that make use of empty wine bottles or a Veggetti Spiralizer.

15. Gifts for Grandma and Grandpa. Whether it is their first year on the job or they are old pros at the job, the role grandparents play in their grandchildren’s lives cannot be underestimated. A WiFi Cloud Digital Photo Frame is a good way to instantly share your family photos directly to their home. It is user-friendly for grandma and grandpa, reasonably priced and can easily hold more than 1,000 pictures. Amazon has several options and price points.

16. Gifts for your pastor: Assurance that that his sermon wasn’t as bad as he thinks, a gift in his name to a ministry he supports, an encouraging note in your own words, a gift card, and dinner for two are always welcome gifts.

And a bonus gift suggestion? For those of you in Palatine shopping for gift cards, Immanuel participates in the Manna program. Purchase a gift card through Immanuel’s Manna program at face value and a percentage of it goes back to Immanuel. More information…