‘Tis More FUN to Give…

I do a giveaway every week with this blog and this is for reasons. I know my readers are all pretty capable of looking out for themselves, but when I send out a book or a box of chocolate, I feel more connected to my tribe. I like to think of somebody seeing a package and wondering, “I haven’t ordered any–Oh, yeah! I won a book from Grace!”

You get a smile, and I get a smile. The neuroscience says I actually get the bigger smile. When we give to somebody else, we get a bigger dopamine reward than when we self-indulge. The parts of our brain associated with happiness and altruism light up when we’re generous, and our blood pressure drops. People who can keep the generous habit going into old age report better spirits, and the generous among us tend to live longer. And you don’t have give a lot for it to make you happy–just be thoughtful within your means.

BUT there’s a difficulty here. You good folks reading this blog mostly have my books. You also have a lot of the books of my writin’ buddies, so what to give away become a challenge. My mom was one of those people who could spot the perfect blouse for you from a geosynchronous orbital altitude of eight miles. I didn’t get that gene. I’m not big on stuff myself, so the idea that I’d send somebody something they didn’t need or want makes me cringe.

Then I read John Scalzi’s blog post, an annual tradition with him. He opens up his blog once a year for everybody else to post books, crafts, albums, fave charities, art, anything that might make a good holiday thought for somebody with a shopping list of names and not enough ideas. I will be cruising John’s blog daily for the next week.

But I’d like some help with MY blog. I need giveaway ideas, Christmas gift ideas, links to anything you saw that would be perfect for Aunt Impossible or that brand new six-week-old nephoo. If you have a favorite charity (I’m fond of Heifer International, and that’s one of their hand-knitted Peruvian ornaments to the right) then put that in the comments.

Then I’ll chose three of your suggestions and send out those gifts to commenters. If you’ve been very good this year (or even if you haven’t), then it’s fair game to list the thing you’d like to come across this holiday season–with your name on it. I just might end up sending it to you. (Or you might get the fuzzy socks, just sayin’).

And that’s what I’d start with: I love Maggie’s organic wool hiking socks. They are the gift I bring my hostesses, my condolence gift to the bereaved, and what I sent to my editor and my web team last year as a token of holiday appreciation. If there’s a sock hound on your list, consider a pair of Maggie’s. They are spendy, but they last and last and are like a hug for your feet.

Your turn, and didja see the website got its holiday decorations, didja huh?

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46 comments on “‘Tis More FUN to Give…

  1. 1
    Mary T says:

    I think you do a pretty good job choosing gifts for giveaways, but I think an Amazon gift card is something my kindle would love. I just finished NO OTHER DUKE WILL DO. It was wonderful.

    • 1.1

      Gift cards have solved so many problems… but I have to be careful about Amazon gift cards. The Zon connects the giver and the receiver, and has been known to then ban the receiver from reviewing any product associated with the giver. This has happened even when an author does a post on a booklover’s blog, and the booklover gives a commenter a gift card. Three years later, the readers reviews disappear, because “We’ve detected relationship between you and the author that suggests your reviews might not be objective…”
      Fortunately, Amex has all purpose gift cards, and I know where to get ’em!

  2. 2
    Make Kay says:

    I like your comments re the neuroscience of giving.
    We have pulled back from doing a lot of gifts in my family, and simply enjoy BEING together for the holidays.
    We like to sponsor things in someone ‘s name for gifts. Environmental or wildlife things primarily, which need all the help they can get. We’ve picked a couple broad-based ones, but our favorite wildlife-specific charity is Cheetah Conservation Fund. They do habitat restoration and education. They are teaching Namibian farmers that they don’t have to kill the cheetahs. Instead, CCF provides livestock-guarding dogs and teaches farmers how to train other farmers to get and train their dogs. This way cheetahs and humans can coexist. LOVE.

  3. 3
    Susan Gorman says:

    Your gift giveaways are fabulous!

    I would never treat myself to a box of chocolates but, I would be thrilled to win them!
    And your book giveaways….who would love an autographed copy of a Grace Burrowes book?

    I like book giveaways– I can read a book from a favorite author, try a new author or genre. Your holiday stories are must reads. Sophie’s story and What A Lady Needs for Christmas are my two favorites.

    I love soft blankets, scarves and socks. I got a fabulous pair of woolen socks in my stocking last year and they kept my toes warm when I shoveled the snow. Scarves dress up an outfit and keep you warm.Am asking for a pair of slippers from LL Bean this year…with raccoons on them. Or maybe owls??

    We give to our local food pantry at Christmas and during the year. It’s local and I feel that I am giving back to my community.

    I look forward to your blog each week and enjoy the connection with or without the giveaway. Have a great week!!

  4. 4
    Beth says:

    There’s a gift we can ALL give our Grace and it’s free! Trot on over to your chosen site for buying books and post a review for every single Burrowes book you’ve read.

    They don’t have to be 5 stars, just honest. Because every review an author gets, even the non-committing 3 stars, helps authors be seen and get better deal on everything from advertising so we hear about their books to their next advance. Wouldn’t it be fun if our favorite ducal family got turned into a mini-series or even a PassionFlix film? (A girl can dream)

    So hie thee to iBooks or Kobo or the ‘Zon and let those fingers fly (or peck) over the keyboard and support our beloved creator of books!

    • 4.1

      Thanks, Beth, and you’re right: Reviews, whether positive, negative, or on the fence, if they are honest opinions, help books get to the readers for whom that book is a good fit, and avoid the readers for whom the book is not a good fit. They all help move the book in the right direction.

      You also mentioned Passionflix. For those who don’t know about it…. Ever notice how few Hollywood titles are romance? Truly, honestly, romance rather than rom com, women’s fic, or something in between? Passionflix is an outfit that’s taking romance bestsellers and turning them into movies. So far, they’ve concentrated on contemporaries (much easier to produce than histrom), but their library is growing, and the subscription is only $5.99 a month/cancel any time. I wonder if they have gift subscriptions?
      https://www.passionflix.com/

  5. 5
    Teenie Marie says:

    The last few years I’ve been giving special friends and colleagues wax covered amaryllis bulbs. They are regular amaryllis but their bulbs are dipped in wax with a wire stabilizer at the bottom and have fertilizer and food in the wax…..so there is NOTHING to do…just put ’em in a window and watch ’em! They are spectacular….I had six flowers at once at one point last winter….we’ll see about this year since I just put mine in the window planter yesterday. My Giftees loved them! Last year, I got them from a local grocery store and this year, I ordered them from Hirt’s Nursery. These are a bit more glittery than last year but from a better merchant.

    I am partial to Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America. I order all sort of autism awareness products from the website of Autism Speaks (and they raise all sorts of money for autism research)and ASA is a wonderful support to families affected by autism. I was a local ASA chapter president for quite a few years and know what good work ASA does. My son with autism is 37 and I think both these groups are skewed toward those with younger kids…there isn’t really much support for adults with this disability.

    • 5.1

      Wow… Glittered dipped? That’s a step above the grocery store boxed bulbs. Link is here, and yes, I did order myself one (though that’s not what the blog post says I’m supposed to do).
      https://hirts.com/search.php?Search=&search_query=wax+amaryllis

      Autism Speaks (terrific group): https://www.autismspeaks.org/
      Autism Society of America’s FB page has a donate feature: https://www.facebook.com/AutismSociety/

      • 5.1.1
        Teenie Marie says:

        Couldn’t resist, could ya? Mine from last year is still alive; not blooming but has a green shoot sticking out. We’ll see about the more highfalutin brand….hope it works out for you….keep us informed!

    • 5.2
      Sarah R. says:

      Teenie, I have 3 boys with autism. My twins just turned 16 and I am getting bombarded with transition materials. I have been living in denial the past couple of months, but 18 will be here before I know it and then everything changes. It is my hope that as a lot of this kids age there will be more and more stuff out there geared toward adults on the spectrum. My support coordinator was just telling me of a local apartment complex that houses special needs adults for a fraction of their disability checks and apparently the apartments are very nice and have well trained staff. Not sure if my guys will be able to live on their own but it does give me hope.

      • 5.2.1
        Teenie Marie says:

        In my state kids *age out* when they are 22. So watch it if the district suggests they *graduate* because once they do, they will no longer be eligible for further services. If you are able, don’t let them graduate but get them into a transition program until the Magic Age, whatever it is. In our state that used to be 21, now it’s 22 and I think in one or two other states it’s 23. Get all the services you can from the school district because once they are in the adult world it sucks, Big Time.

      • 5.2.2
        Sarah R says:

        Thanks for the advice, Teenie!
        I’m in Arizona, where they have fantastic services both in school and out. The in-home/clinic therapies are all paid for by the state as long as the qualify for long term care. That is a huge blessing.

  6. 6
    Sheryl says:

    I love gift cards, especially to Amazon so I can buy more books. I have been wishing for a new Kindle Paperwhite since mine is just about worn out.
    Vera Bradley’s website has some really cute gifts, like totes and fuzzy blankets. I think your giveaways are great, who wouldn’t love a book or chocolates from you? I also have a special love for The Shriner’s Hospitals for Children since my son is a Shriner kid. I also love Goats of Anarchy, a sanctuary for special needs goats.
    I enjoy reading the blog each week.

  7. 7
    Jess M. says:

    Scalzi’s a good human bean. I like it when my favorite genres collide, and this sort of collision is the best sort, where kindness, charity, and love all explode into good things.

    Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, holds an annual “James Garfield Miracle”, wherein people who are in financial difficulty can comment with an Amazon wishlist of things they would like to buy for their kids, but can’t that hear for whatever reason, and anyone who wants to can buy from those wishlists. Jenny obviously explains it better, so here’s a link: http://thebloggess.com/?s=james+garfield

    She also likes to encourage people to donate to Project Night Night, which gives homeless kids a book, blanket, and stuffed animal. http://www.projectnightnight.org

    Happy Holidays, Grace!

    • 7.1

      Thanks for that list. I honestly don’t have many people to buy for (my family isn’t very present-y) so buying a few items for unmet friends is a nice way to get my Santa-hat on.

  8. 8
    Sue says:

    I seem to be partial to simple jewelry supporting a cause. I have one from an animal rescue that I seem to wear a lot – especially when I am missing those of mine who have moved on to the rainbow bridge. Geese, I think I will go put it on now

    I like that ornament from Heifer you showed

    • 8.1

      Heifer has a whole barnyard of ornaments–a pony, a cow, a few others. Woven of alpaca yarn by the farmers around Lake Titicaca. If you come across link to your animal rescue charity, please leave it for us.

  9. 9
    Glenda says:

    One of my favorite things about my bosses is their dedication to helping out local shelters and rescues. This time of year we do a massive ‘food raiser’ asking our customers to buy a bag of food and we match each purchase. This year we are trying to raise 175,000 pounds of food to help feed over 35 rescues and shelters for a year. Every year the goal goes up. Many years we fall short but the owners make up the difference so the rescues and shelters don’t do without.

    As far as prizes from you, I love the chance to win print copies of your books – ARCs are awesome too! I do own all your books but in ecopy. I’m weird and have some books I want both in print and in the handy mobil ecopy versions. I have some print copies of your books, but am still building my collection.

    The truffles from the last 2 weeks looked amazing and just might have made it to my wish list for Christmas/birthday etc since my husband wanted me to include more variety. I do enjoy receiving chocolate and other food gifts as well.

    • 9.1
      Glenda says:

      I forgot to add that the Maggie’s Wool socks were added to my perpetual list as well…hubby said “buy them for yourself”, He doesn’t get that this time of year especially, I can’t justify buying something I don’t Need.

    • 9.2

      Thanks for weighing in on my giveaways, because I sometimes think, “They all have my books already…” But dropping a signed print book in the mail doesn’t take five minutes out of my day, so it’s easy for me. I can also send out audiobooks, but not everybody is a book-listener.

  10. 10
    Rita Gerstheimer says:

    I often buy a book for someone, I usually pick a topic or author they like. If I’m unsure, I give a gift card to a place like Target or even the local supermarket. There are also the prepaid generic gift cards from Visa or Master Card. I often got a card with money inside from my family and often still do. When I can find enough time, I have made homemade Christmas ornaments. Just don’t give them to people who are into comparing how much they spent on your gift and feel your gift is not in the same league. Most people do genuinely appreciate anything homemade, a plate of cookies or a hand knit scarf, etc.

    • 10.1

      I love the handmade stuff. I think anything we create–books, cookies, scrapbooks, gardens–takes on the emotions we carry as we do the creating, and most crafters are happy working their art. Most bakers enjoy the holiday baking. Most scrapbookers are blissed out putting together their tomes. So homemade works for me, and to heck with the bean counting. It’s the love that matters.

  11. 11
    Amy Ikari says:

    Happy Sunday! Your website is so beautiful and festive, it definitely puts the Merry in Christmas. Having had some health and no work issues over the past few years, I have been a little more personal in my gifting. One friend was sad that her mail was only bills, advertisements and magazines that she subscribed to by herself. She said even her church was sending out e-mail newsletters. So my gift to her was to send her a Christmas card for twelve days like the song and then send her a card and letter each month. For her birthday I sent her a birthday card each day for ten days so I think a great giveaway would be a letter from you or one of your wonderful characters. Another person had been kind to my mother and so I made her a thank you encouragement jar. I cut up about sixty colored strips of paper, wrote encouraging messages in each one and then placed them in a pretty candy jar along with chocolate kisses and gave them to her. Another great giveaway would be for someone to be mentioned in your blog as an encouragement to you. Another project I did was to collect recipes for slow cookers for twenty dinners because someone had a slow cooker but did not have time to find recipes. I also prepared shopping lists base on those recipes. I think that a third great giveaway from you would be to receive a post card from you on one of your travels. Not all of us travel now so having a piece of the world delivered to our homes as a postcard is wonderful! My one wish is for you to continue to write because since I discovered you about ten years ago, my book world has not been the same. Thank you for your great books! Have a blessed week!

    • 11.1

      Amy, thank you for all those very kind words, and for those great ideas. It strikes me that without spending much money at all, you’ve hit upon genius ways to make people feel cared for and thought about. It really, truly IS the thought that counts.
      And my readers are my best encouragers. I should say that more often and more publicly. Much about being an author is hard–making the stories happen, even when the words don’t flow. Dealing the reviewers, not all of whom are kind. Deadlines. Constant promotion. Social media. Editorial comments that don’t seem to ad up. More deadlines…
      Through it all, I have a sense of my readers whispering from the sidelines, “You have this. This book is worth waiting for. Don’t worry–we’re here.”
      Makes ALL the difference.

  12. 12
    Marianne says:

    Keep commenting, people! I need ideas.

    My two tutoring pupils (7 & 9) picked lavender from my yard, dried it, separated out the seeds and will be giving little lavender sachets to a few people, if I ever get them sewed together. They’ll have some seed to go with. I like pretty with purpose.

    I was trying to explain tartan to the younger one. Have any samples, Grace?!

    My niece, a tea party planner and an aspiring author, received a tea cup with the message, “You’ve been poisoned.” in the bottom. Etsy

    I love the descriptions of Valentine Windham’s lace. Someone brought me a wee scrap from Belgium that is beautiful. Handkerchiefs? Bookmarks?

    I believe that thinking about someone with the thought to give them something is very good for me, even if I miss horribly. My father once gifted me with a wearable sleeping bag in a particularly vile print. I would have been about 14. I’d enjoy the thing now. He was so excited to find me the perfect gift and so often completely forgot that no one said a word.

  13. 13
    Ona says:

    I love the monogrammed mugs at Anthropologie; mostly, their stuff is too pricey for me, but the mugs I can do, and some of the patterns are gorgeous. A monogrammed mug and a favorite herbal tea has been a go-to gift of choice for me. I had a boss give me and each of my colleagues such a mug once, and I remember thinking how nice it was.

    I give regularly to a couple of scholarship funds at the community college where I work; if you can help a person go to college, it does us all good.

  14. 14
    Gretchen says:

    Anything chocolate really

  15. 15
    anne egger says:

    Hmm… I guess because of the hurricanes I’m going with Presbyterian Disaster Relief fund, they do a good job.

  16. 16
    LSUReader says:

    I love to give and receive James Avery jewelry (www.jamesavery.com. Avery is a Texas craftsman. Many of his pieces are religious. The charms and bracelets are wonderful, and the jewelry wears beautifully. Books are always popular. I give them frequently. I prefer to receive book gift cards, especially Amazon, as most of my reading is electronic, on the Kindle application. Another thing that’s popular in my family–especially with the (grown) kids and (not grown) grandkids–is t-shirts specific to their likes…lots of sports activities and athletic teams represented, along with favorites like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, pets, works of art, music, and general silliness. We love socks, so I’ll have to check out the ones you recommended. My personal favorite charities this year were related to hurricane relief and rebuilding–J.J. Watt’s Flood Relief Fund, Catholic Charities of the Galveston-Houston Diocese, and the local Christian Renewal Center.

    • 16.1

      I’m a big fan of Catholic Charities. They are the reason an awful lot of the foster kids I represent get affordable counseling that includes the families, and does not include a lot of red tape related to insurance, copayments, deductibles and fine print. The quality of the mental health services matches or exceeds what’s available through non-charitable avenues, and they will try to help anybody who comes to their door.

      Here’s the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese link: https://catholiccharities.org/

  17. 17
    JoAnn Kernan says:

    I love your Christmas books, there is always so much joy, love & generosity conveyed in every story. Giving of oneself is a wonderful theme which I try to follow in my everyday life.
    My passion is knitting, besides reading your perfect romances, so I always try to gift a hand knit item to as many friends or family as time allows ( never enough time). The reward is the smile of the receiver of that special gift of time & yarn. My motto is “there is never enough yarn to bring happiness to some one else’s life”.

    • 17.1

      This is me, seeing if my swollen head will fit through the door sideways…. Thanks for those very kind words. Never met a knitter I didn’t like. Something about working with the soft wool, weaving something greater than the parts… it’s a lovely process. I wish I knew more than the basic stitch, but there’s time to learn…

  18. 18

    Why do I always come across your blogs late! lol.

    I love and loathe giving Tuesday. I love it because it’s a chance to do good, but seriously…why only one day?! Shouldn’t we try to give a little back every day? I got so annoyed with the concept of only one day, that I signed up for Amazon Smile. Now every time I shop on Amazon (and I do a LOT of shopping on Amazon), 0.5% goes back to my charity of choice. It doesn’t sound like much, but in the last 3 days I’ve already “given” $24 to my charity of choice.

    And since I have so many causes that are equally deserving, I swap them out each year…it’s so easy! Last year was Guide Dogs of America, they provide guides to visually impaired people across the country free of cost. This year’s charity is the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, who provides life skills and educational opportunities for blind children in the Miami area. They’re working on building the first preschool and kindergarten for blind children. My cousin’s son started going here after he lost both his eyes to cancer before he was 4 years old. Next year I’m going to switch to National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. They take inadoptable shelter dogs (and the occasional donation) and train them for urban search and rescue. They took my Guide Dog Flunkie and turned him into a Search Dog Superstar! He was recently deployed to Florida for the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

    With so many great charities out there, it’s so hard to choose just one!

    • 18.1

      Thanks for the reminder about Amazon Smile. I’m signed up too, though I seldom shop that site (or any site, except the Highland Chocolatier and Maggie’s, lately). For those who haven’t come across Smile, it’s the same website, the same products, but because you come in from a different web addy, Amazon knows to ante up some change for the charity you select. Great idea…
      https://smile.amazon.com/
      I also like the Panera’s in my area, that let you toss your change into the kitty for the local children’s hospital.
      It’s nice to walk into a Panera and see a sign, “You’ve helped raise $334,217 for Children’s Hospital–thanks!”

  19. 19
    Chris L. says:

    Practically all of my favorite things come from Etsy crafters! Here is an assortment of my absolute faves. Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of these stores or crafters, I am just a shopper who likes to share things I love!

    1) https://www.etsy.com/shop/VernaCrafts?ref=l2-shopheader-name
    Verna Crafts has a large assortment of pendants she makes by painting the background adding a charm and filling in with jewelry grade resin. I bought a Scottish thistle pendant from this store and wear it all.the.time.

    2) https://www.etsy.com/shop/nemki?ref=l2-shopheader-name
    nemki shop has so many different adorable animal inspired goods, like tote bags with sloths on them or travel mugs with goats on them (sadly no sheep).

    3) https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkyeCottageCrochet?ref=l2-shopheader-name
    Skye Cottage Crochet has adorable crocheted items. When you see her crocheted Highland coo  throw pillow, you’re gonna die.

    4) One more – https://www.etsy.com/shop/suegrayjewelry?ref=l2-shopheader-name Sue Gray Jewelry has THE most wonderful necklaces that have been stamped by authentic, antique seals she picks up at antique sales. My tiny forget-me-not one necklace is a staple. I’ve given these as gifts so many times. She does an amazing job of giving the meaning of the images, showing the size of the pendants, and discussing how she acquired the seals she uses to make her jewelry. She makes sea glass jewelry as well, but I’m in love with the ones made from the old seals.

    I want to conclude by saying that the best thing you give us (besides your books) is your time, Grace! It is so wonderful to be able to have conversations with you here at this blog. It is so very generous that you take the time to engage with your readers. Good luck with your holiday shopping!

    • 19.1

      Thanks for those links, but beware all ye who enter there: This is fun stuff! The coo hat and tea cozy look suspiciously alike. Hmm. Makes you wonder if somebody didn’t get to clowning around in the kitchen over a wee dram or two.
      I like this blog too. It’s like sitting down with book buddies over a cup of tea. I go through the week with an eye out, “Would the blog folks think that was interesting? Is there a way that article connects to romance novels?”
      It’s a little like shopping for friends…

  20. 20
    Carol Luciano says:

    I love those wool socks. What a wonderful gift to give. I loved the print books, scarves and now I’m adding wool socks to the list. 🙂 And GC’s are always a good thing. Everyone has suggested breast ideas. Happy Holidays