December 13, 2019

What to get the person who ‘doesn’t need anything’ at Christmas

By Natalie Hoefer

When I was younger, I was baffled by people responding to the question of, “What do you want for Christmas?” with the answer of, “Oh, there really isn’t anything I want or need.” How could you ever not want something, I wondered.

But I get it now. The longer we journey the earthbound path, the more “stuff” we accumulate. We can even reach the point of not wanting more, whether for lack of room or from a desire to simplify our lives.

So what do you get that person who has everything or wants nothing? Here is a list of ideas that will gift such souls without adding to their “stuff”:

A gift certificate to a retreat center where they can take time to grow closer to Christ. Here in central and southern Indiana we’re blessed with six Catholic retreat houses that offer gift certificates (nearby Catholic retreat centers can be found at Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center in Beech Grove (, gift certificates:, 317-788-7581); Mount St. Francis Center for Spirituality in Mt. St. Francis (, gift certificates: or 812-923-8817); Oldenburg Franciscan Center in Oldenburg, (, gift certificates: or 812-933-6437); Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis (, gift certificates: or 317-545-7681); Providence Spirituality and Conference Center at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in St. Mary-of-the-Woods (, gift certificates: or 812-535-2945); and Saint Meinrad Guest House & Retreat Center in St. Meinrad (, gift certificates: or 800-581-6905).

Make a donation in their name to a charitable organization or their parish, or if their parish is in the archdiocese, check to see if their parish already has a fund set up through the Catholic Community Foundation: You can search for their parish in the most recent annual report and also donate online, or call Amy Higgins at 800-382-9836, ext. 1482, or 317-236-1482.

Have Masses celebrated in their honor.

Give them the gift of your time. Buy tickets for you and them to see a show or go to a museum. Promise an outing to a park, or perhaps monthly outings to get coffee, your treat.

Give married couples the gift of time with each other with a gift card to a restaurant or tickets to an outing—and offering your baby-sitting services so they don’t incur that cost.

Give them the gift of words. Write them a letter or series of letters given throughout the year telling the person what they mean to you, or how they’ve impacted your life.

Give them the gift of your prayers. Write them one or more certificates for you to pray for them in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Give them a card listing the specific day you’ll offer a rosary for them weekly or monthly. Give them a bouquet of real or artificial flowers, each flower representing a prayer you will say for them and how often in the upcoming year.

• If they have a baptism, first Communion, confirmation or marriage coming up, or will be celebrating a milestone birthday (18, 30, 40 or 50-100 in increments of 5) or anniversary (10-80 in increments of 5) in the upcoming year, consider ordering them a papal blessing from the Vatican. Most of the fee, which runs from roughly $18 to about $27, goes toward parchment and processing fees, and the rest goes toward “the works of charity undertaken daily in the name of the pope by his office, in service to the poor.” (Shipping costs are handled separately.) For more information go to

These are just a few ideas. The gist is to consider what you know about the person. Think of how they like to show love—through quality time, words or acts of service—because how a person shows love is often how they most appreciate receiving love.

As for spiritual gifts, show me a person who says no to an offer of prayers, and I’ll show you a person who needs prayer.

May St. Nicholas offer you guidance as you seek to bring joy into the life of someone who “doesn’t need anything,” just as Christ brought joy to a world in need of so much love. †

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