Creative Gift Ideas
Growing up in my house, the easiest way to guarantee NOT getting a specific present on Christmas Day was to ask for it. My mom took pride in planning and buying her own set of gifts for us kids, not just taking our lists to the store and throwing items in the cart. The good part was we always got creative and thoughtful presents, even it if wasn’t what we necessarily wanted.
But now that I am the one filling up the space under the tree, I’ve inherited the same aversion to buying whatever someone asks for. I love Christmas shopping, but I put a ton of pressure on myself to come up with great ideas.
Over the years, I’ve managed to collect (or steal!) some themes that help make gift giving easier. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration too.
1. The “combo” gift: Pair two smaller gifts together in a funny, punny or creative way. A few years ago, I made the “Hangover-hangover” combo, which was “The Hangover” DVD and a bottle of that person’s favorite alcohol. Or try the “Bedtime” combo for new parents: a bedtime story book for baby and a bottle of wine and movie for after baby goes to sleep.
2. Photo gifts: These are especially great for grandparents or great-grandparents who constantly say they don’t want or need any presents. On even years, we give calendars with photos of our kiddos. On odd years, it’s coffee mugs. But there’s so many options now, including iPhone cases, playing cards, canvas bags or even bobble heads.
3. The gift of time: Combine movie tickets with a coupon for “free” babysitting. Or make a batch of freezer meals for your relative who always seems too busy to cook. Think about what each person on your list really needs to make life easier, then offer to do it! This gift is usually cheap, ultra personal and fun. (Is it just me or is doing other people’s chores always more fun than your own?)
4. Gift of the month club: Buying into a “of the month” club is usually really expensive. But creating your own can be inexpensive and a great way to show someone you care all year long. A while back I gave my brother a “Candy of the Month Club.” I tried to remember to look for unusual or interesting candy wherever I went. For their college graduation, I gave my brothers a “Care Package of the Month Club” membership, good for a random box of stuff delivered to their dorm each month. What about a “Small Toy of the Month” for your preschooler or “Book of the Month” for your excited new reader? You could even buy all 12 months at Christmas, so you won’t need to do much else the rest of the year.
5. The personalized pop culture gift: I stole this idea from my uncle, who for years would send us movies he had taped off of cable movie channels along with long letters about why he had chosen those movies for us. Why not give everyone in your family a movie or TV show along with a note explaining why you think they’ll love it? An IPod shuffle (which is under $50 on Amazon) is cooler if you download a few choice songs onto it. Even a short inscription in a book makes it that much nicer.
6. The tradition gift: Choose a gift your loved one would enjoy, then give them a variation of that gift each year. It’s not lazy or repetitive if you put time and thought into each one. I would love if someone gave me a new pair of pajamas every year. You could treat your best friend to a “date” or your husband to a new pair of shoes.
7. The creative gift card: OK, even the best gift giver can run out of inspiration or time. If you’re going the gift card route, try to package it in a fun way. For several years, I’ve paired gift cards for teachers with inexpensive but cute mini wallets. One year, my brother put a (slightly boring) grocery store gift card behind a ridiculous framed photo of himself. He let my cousin think his present was the portrait before finally pointing out the card. We laughed and laughed.
Your ideas! What creative gift idea do you have? Share with the group.