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The more Christmases you experience, the harder it is to give gifts that are not only useful, but also show how much you really know about the receiver. It’s easy to buy gifts for people we don’t know very well. One year, every teacher at my school got $1 scratch-off lottery tickets (nobody won). When it’s time to buy gifts for close friends and family, we have to stretch our imaginations a bit. As always, Team GEM has some ideas that we think you’ll find helpful. Read on for 10 thoughtful and fun Christmas gifts for almost everybody on your list.
This one is easy. Get a large Mason jar. Fill it with items your loved one will love. Here are some ideas: candy, a manicure set; a mini sewing kit; crayons, markers, and colored pencils for young children; assorted flavors of coffee and tea; homemade pizza or pie to bake later; or a make a terrarium. There are dozens of ways you can personalize gifts in a jar. Need more ideas? Take a look at this page on Pinterest.
So you want to do a picture collage for a friend, but you don’t have a lot of pictures of her or pertaining to her. Check out her social media pages, especially if she’s on Instagram or shares lots of pictures on Facebook or Twitter. Take the time to pick out some interesting shots. They could be pictures of her or her vacation shots. Avoid the ones taken at two o’clock in the morning after a night out. Then head over to a site like Picmonkey and create a collage. Have it printed and voila—you have a very thoughtful and very personal gift.
Hear us out on this one. Gift cards get a bad rap because, well, they seem impersonal and let’s face it—anybody and everybody can get or give one. If you buy everybody on your list a gift card to McDonald’s, then, yeah, that’s pretty dispassionate. But if you really think about who your friend is and the things she loves, then you can easily come up with some ideas that are specific to her likes and tastes. Check out GiftCard, a website where you can buy Visa, store, and e-gift cards. You can even design your own. How fun is that?
Personalized music isn’t just for lovers and it certainly doesn’t have to be cheesy. Here, again, when you think about who you’re creating music files for, it’s not so difficult to make a meaningful playlist. For example, do you have a runner in your life? If so, he might appreciate music that has a certain number of beats per minute so that as he listens while he runs, he can stay with the tempo of the music. Choose something slower for warm-ups and cool-downs with faster music in the middle. Or do intervals that alternate between up- and down-tempo beats.
Books and movies make exceptional gifts because there are hundreds of thousands available and you can find more than a few that are perfect for your loved ones. Finding the right ones shows that you understand their taste. If it isn’t too costly, you can really add some punch by pairing a book and movie together. One way to do that is to give the book and the movie based on it. Or, you could follow a theme. If your loved one enjoys baking bread, buy a book of bread recipes and a DVD that shows professional methods of baking bread.
An annual pass is a first-rate gift that will keep on giving—at least until the pass expires. Kill many birds with one stone by giving an annual pass to a family rather than an individual. There are many cultural and entertainment venues that are wonderful, but can be costly when a family would like to visit frequently. Many of these venues offer annual passes. Check out museums, aquariums, zoos, county and state parks, play and discovery centers, theaters, and amusement parks.
Let’s say you don’t want to buy high-priced gifts like electronics. Maybe you’d like to buy a cool case for your niece’s tablet or a leather case for your sister’s phone. Looking for something unique and handmade? Check out Etsy, where you’ll find a marketplace of people selling affordable and unique goods.
What do you get for the person who has everything? An experience gift, of course! They are perfect for people who don’t want or don’t need another inanimate object in their lives. Experience gifts are exciting and memorable. It could even be a gateway to a new hobby for a loved one. She could learn how to drive stock car, go on a romantic dinner cruise, take ninja lessons, go on an aerial tour, or experience a military flight simulator. There are a wide range of experience gifts that can be relatively inexpensive and are very thoughtful.
A year of dates is a good idea for two people in a relationship. Christmas is an excellent time to give the gift of dates because you can start the new year off on a good note. Here’s how it works: Plan a monthly date with your partner for the next year. Yes, life happens, so don’t get too excited if the date you planned for July falls through. Get 12 envelopes labeled with the months of the year and put your date ideas inside. They can include, but are certainly not limited to your anniversary celebration, birthday activities, dinner and a movie (out or in), a breakfast date, a dessert date, a spa day for two, a hiking date, a theater date, a museum date, a golf date… This is a gift for you just as much as it is for your partner.
What’s more personal and thoughtful than the gift of time? Everybody doesn’t deserve this gift, but we’re confident you’ll choose wisely. If your sister is the mother of young children, give her an afternoon where you go over her house and stay with the kids while she takes time for herself. If your child has a teacher you both love, volunteer to do something that takes the load off like redoing the bulletin boards. This kind of gift is simple, costs nothing, and because you gave a gift that’s wanted above all others, it will be appreciated and talked about for years to come.
So, how about you? What are your ideas for thoughtful Christmas gifts your loved ones will enjoy? Share your thoughts below.
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Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a writer, a work at home mother, and a new business owner. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.