I’m pretty convinced I’m good at gift giving (here are my best tricks).
Oh, that really weird, expensive soap you mentioned that you loved but couldn’t justify buying? I’M ON IT.
Your hilarious obsession with Gayle King’s column in O magazine? I will scan a year’s worth of pages and have them made into a journal. You’re super stressed and working three jobs? If I’ve got a key to your place I will secret clean it and then stock the fridge with groceries.
If you’d like to show the people in your life that you love them (or if you’re not a gift registry type) here are 11 things you can buy that a) aren’t insanely expensive b) are pretty stinking thoughtful.
11 customized gifts that will help you win Christmas or Hanukkah
Hard cover or signed editions of their favorite books
Lessons or classes for something you know they want to do
If they’re always talking about how they’d like to take a Salsa class, or study French, or cook Thai food – buy them some classes! And luckily for you, you can frequently find classes at very reasonable prices on Groupon
If you’re worried that a gift certificate makes for an uninspiring gift, buy something cute and little (a jar of peanut satay sauce or some brie) that is representative of the lessons and then wrap that.
A photo album of their best Facebook/Instagram photos from the last year
Most of us upload our photos to the internet and then let them sit there. Stalk your friend’s Facebook albums or their Instagram feed and make some of the best photos into a sweet little album.
Make a cookbook of your family’s best recipes
If you have access to the family recipe box, have a dig through and make your favorites into a cookbook
. If you really want to go above and beyond, scan in the recipe cards with your grandma’s handwriting.
Have a custom painting made from their favorite photo
If she’s had the same Facebook profile photo of her and her dog forever or you know that she loves that photo of her and her grandma, have it made into something a little more fancy. Etsy is filled with people who will make your photo into a painting. Watercolor
Vintage toys or action figures from their childhood
Convert their old home videos to DVD or digital formats
Oh, goodness. When I was at my parents’ house this summer we unearthed some old home movies and I laughed so hard I cried/stopped making noise/hyperventilated a little bit.
There are lots of companies
who will convert VHS to DVD and if you’ve already got them in DVD and it’s relatively easy to convert DVDs to mp4s
. If you’re feeling fancy, use a video editing program to add music and text.
Something from their home town/state/country
When I lived abroad
, I asked my mom to send me ranch dressing mix, vegetarian chili mix, Betty Crocker brownie mix, and the creepy orange Kraft mac’n cheese powder. If your friend is living far from home, they’d probably love a package of stuff they can only get in their home state or country. It could be local candy, preserves, coffee or cheese.
Make a donation in their name to a charity that means something to them
If they really, really have everything make a donation to their favorite cause. You could ‘adopt’ their favorite animal (you can adopt this otter
in my name, friends), sponsor a community garden in their neighborhood, or write a check to an NGO in a country they visited.
Pay someone else to do chores they don’t want to go
Give them a gift certificate (like, from an actual service provider – not a hand written gift certificate that says you’re going to do this stuff) for some of those things they hate to do. House cleaning! Pick up/drop off laundry! Snow removal! Mowing! Gutter cleaning!
Again, you can usually find discounts on these services through Groupon and Livingsocial or give Taskrabbit
a try! If you want to be clever, attach the gift certificate to a cheap bottle of wine and tell them to drink it instead of shoveling snow.
A modern mixtape
No, sharing a Spotify playlist doesn’t count! This jumpdrive mixtape
is adorable and a perfect mix of old school and high tech. Include songs from fun adventures you had this year and songs from your past. If you’re really ambitious, cut out pictures from magazines and glue them on the outside.
Tell me about the best, most thoughtful gifts you’ve ever received! And are you a good gift giver?