Do you ever feel like you’re either buying more sugar or more clutter for your friends & family? I realized that is often the case for me, even when I’m really trying to choose something great.
I’ve spent a lot of time this year thinking about what makes a gift meaningful. In mulling over gifts that I have received over the years that meant a lot to me, I landed on characteristics like:
- supported a hobby, passion, or goal of mine
- celebrated an occasion or accomplishment
- helped with or solved a problem, issue, or frustration I was having
- gave me something that brought joy, fun, or relaxation
While those are all very different purposes, it makes me realize one main thing: Giving a good gift is basically being a good friend. A good gift makes the recipient feel known and loved.
And in order to give good gifts, we have to know about all those things – hobbies, struggles, big moments, guilty pleasures – and love them well by spending the time, money or effort to give with those in mind.
In essence, we have to just really know them.
With that in mind, I’ve been much more careful in choosing gifts, and I’ve also found a lot more joy in it!
It also can be a huge help if you broaden your scope of gifting. While a tangible product or sweet treat may still be the perfect fit for one gift, here are 5 other types of gifts you can consider as you brainstorm for each person!
*plus, don’t miss out on the brainstorming tool at the bottom! It absolutely saved me last Christmas!*
As I mention in my engagement gift ideas post, this really has become a go-to for me! You can give a certificate for something to do alone, with others, or with you! Last year, we gave my dad and brother a round of golf together. We gave my brother & niece tickets for a daddy/daughter day at the children’s museum. What I love about this is that you are essentially giving them memories, not just more stuff 🙂
This can also be gift cards to a great restaurant, a nail salon or old-fashioned barber shop, or a how-to class. Another twist- if you’re celebrating with a group, you could chip in for an experience together instead of exchanging!
This, of course, is a common deviation on traditional gifts, but it is worth mentioning. One of my all-time favorite homemade gifts was a family birthday calendar I made for my grandmother. Although mine was pretty simple, you can find a similar tutorial here!
However, this can include anything: homemade goodies, spice mixes, prints, jewelry, whatever you’re good at!
3. Book swap
It can even help to narrow down the gifts to a specific item. I think doing a book swap between your family or group of friends could be super fun! Whether it’s your favorite fiction or nonfiction book, your most inspiring self-growth resource, a great cookbook, or just a beautiful coffee table book- taking time to consider what the other people would truly enjoy can make a very thoughtful & meaningful gift. An added bonus- you get to talk about it later!!
4. Coupons for your time or service
Oftentimes what our friends & family may need most is just help. Whether it’s painting a nursery for a baby on the way, organizing a closet, cleaning up an elderly family member’s home, or babysitting for a date night- it can go a long way! I think those closest to us are touched when they know they’re not alone in their problems or struggles, and gifts like these let them know that.
5. Donations to a cause they care about
And finally, some beautiful people would rather their gifts go to others instead! Whether it’s a financial donation to a charity they love or a commitment to volunteer along with them, this is such a cool way to join them in their passions. Even more, you get to experience what makes it so special to them, and you may end up with one more thing in common!
Gift Ideas Brainstorming Worksheet
To help you get started, I’ve put together a handy brainstorming worksheet! It includes several prompts to get you thinking about their lives right now and how you could come alongside that – any life changes, new hobbies or interests, current problems or struggles, etc. If nothing else, I hope it keeps you from staring into space or searching Pinterest hoping the perfect idea will just pop into your head (been there, done that!)
I also put together a gift tracker for budgeting, ideas, & reminders with a 5-day email course to help you set up a stress-free gifting system & schedule!
Read more: All-In-One Budget Tracker & Shopping Organizer