Creative Gift Ideas (That You Won’t Find in a Store)

When it comes to holiday gifting, I’ve found there are typically two camps of people – those who love to shop, wrap and adorn and those who are stressed out by the entire experience by December 2. I straddle between the two. I adore seeing the look on a loved one’s face when they open up a less traditional gift that is meaningful to them. But I feel there is so much pressure to provide abundance, rather than carefully thought-out items, and this undermines the true meaning and enjoyment of the season. Plus, if I’m being real, dealing with holiday crowds makes me want to cancel Christmas and watch the Grinch in my pajamas everyday for the next 31 days.

To combat my Mr. Scrooge alter ego, I’ve tried to find more creative, less commercial ways to express my love for others during the holidays. If you’re looking for a few out-of-the-box ideas, consider some of the below ideas that have been a hit over the years.

Framed pictures or artwork. One of my absolute favorite gifts from my wedding came from my aunt and uncle in Rhode Island, who gifted me and my husband a large painting of the historic Bristol mansion where we wed. It was so unique and thoughtful, and each time I walk past that painting in our home, I’m transported back to that blissful day. If you have any sentimental pictures a loved one would enjoy, enlarging the print and having it framed is a wonderful treasure to gift them.

A Christmas basket of homemade goods. When I was a poor, starving graduate student, I loved to bake holiday cookies, mini fruit breads and candies from scratch and create small gift baskets for loved ones. If you’re not the baking type, homemade spice blends and hot chocolate kits are also a big hit.

Donations to a charity in someone’s name. My in-laws actually exposed me to this idea, and ever since, it’s stuck with me. What better way to pay tribute to someone than donating to a worthy cause in his or her name?

Memberships to a group or club. Do you have a sister who loves the ballet? Or a husband who enjoys to golf? Purchasing a yearly membership to their favorite organization or pastime is a gift that they can enjoy all year.

Tickets to a show, museum or exhibit. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to purchasing tickets for a family member or friend – sports, the arts, entertainment, literature, etc.

Lessons for cooking, music or language classes. This one is definitely on the more expensive side, but if you have a spouse or child who has expressed strong interest in learning a new skill, you can’t go wrong with surprising them with paid lessons.

Customized anything. These days, you can have nearly anything customized, engraved or bespoke. Baby blankets with a favorite poem. Family heirlooms engraved with dates and details. The possibilities are endless.

I hope this list was helpful! Happy shopping!


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