It’s a little hard for me to believe, but with Thanksgiving less than one week away, the holiday + Christmas season is upon us! I’ve already been slowly accumulating gifts to give to friends and family for the holidays and today I thought I’d share just a little bit about some of the sources and general places that I’m looking to when coming up with gifts. While I do my fair share of just buying something that someone asks for, I also like to put a little extra thought and try to find meaningful gifts to give when I can!
In previous years, I’ve shared non-toy gift ideas for kids, toys with a bonus greater purpose, and some small businesses that I like to shop for toys. I still love all those ideas and I look to all those businesses and sources for gifts to this day! For this post, I just wanted to include a few more ideas for ways to buy meaningful or unique gifts for both kids and adults. If you have places or ideas to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
Books from Small, Locally-owned Bookstores
Personally, I think books are always a good idea! I have even been known to gift library books when my kids were little (which is a great gift hack if you have very young kids and not a lot of space: they get to enjoy new books for a couple weeks, then just when they start to lose interest, you can send the books back!) If I buy books, I really try to support a small, locally-owned store instead of Amazon or Barnes and Noble. This year I’m gifting each of my kids a couple books (and requesting a few on my own list!) all from a small bookstore I love.
Highlights for Kids
Last year, my mom gifted each of my kids a subscription to Highlights and it truly is the gift that keeps on giving. My kids get excited to receive their magazine in the mail each month! Vi’s is for younger kids and is made of a special type of paper that is hard to tear or destroy – perfect for early readers! LJ’s is more of a typical magazine and has fun stories to read and activities to do. I also love that the magazines show a lot of diversity (our magazines have included children with Down Syndrome, limb differences, and from various races and ethnicities and I love that they cover models are specifically diverse from month to month). They meet my kids with educational and fun material at their developmental levels and provide us with something to look forward to each month. For adults, maybe you can find a subscription box or magazine subscription catered to their personal interests that will be a fun gift to receive all year long!
I adore the company Mama Sing My Song – they create custom songs for children that are so beautiful and magical. Just check out their Instagram to see videos of kids reacting to their songs and it will melt your heart! You fill out a detailed questionnaire about your child and choose a style of melody, then they write a personalized song for your child and send you the file. I had one made for LJ for Mother’s Day and I cried listening to it! The first time he heard it, he was grinning from ear to ear because he recognized the special parts that were just for him. It captures him so perfectly! I now sing it to him every night and it’s just the most special thing. You can also order a stuffed animal that comes with a recording of the song inside if you want or the music sheet or artwork – what an amazing and personal gift for the child in your life!
Gift an Experience
Concert tickets. Pottery Class. A day at a local spa. A mini session with a professional photographer. Sporting Events. There are so many experiences that you can gift to your loved one to make them feel special and seen. This year my parents are creating an Escape Room for all my siblings as part of our gift and the anticipation of fun and all the memories we’ll make is a gift that will keep on giving for years to come!
I think anytime you can put a little extra time and thought into a gift, the one receiving it feels extra special and loved. One way to do that is through custom artwork. Maybe there’s a special building (a childhood home, a beloved vacation spot, a family cabin, etc.) or a cherished pet (still living or perhaps one that has passed away) that you’d like to memorialize for your loved one. A custom piece of artwork can be such a special gift. And bonus, you’re supporting an artist with their livelihood! You can even gift your loved one with a certificate to commission a work of their choosing, which is an especially good option if you’re not 100% sure what they would want or if the artist you love is already booked through the holidays. I do just happen to have an extremely talented sister who does commissions (check out her work here) but there are also many talented people selling custom work on Etsy of their own websites. Or if you walk through an arts and crafts fair or farmers market and see an artist selling work in a style you love, don’t be afraid to ask if they take commissions.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about giving a used gift just for the sake of being cheap, and I’m definitely not just talking about re-gifting or giving someone else’s junk. I’m talking about thoughtfully curating gifts that have been loved before and are still in amazing shape for another owner. The other day on Instagram, I say @shelbygoodman talk about how she found small, very inexpensive glass jars at a thrift store and planned to wash them, fill them with a homemade infused olive oil, cork them, and gift to friends. What an amazing, creative idea for gifting DIY + secondhand! If your loved one is a home decor lover, maybe it’s pairing thrifted vintage brass candlesticks + new tapered candles. If they’re a book nerd, maybe it’s a collection of classics and/or bestsellers from a secondhand store (books are always sold SO cheaply!) Maybe it’s a puzzle (make sure it has all the pieces!) or a vintage rug or a unique planter or container that you transplant a cute plant into. I just bought my niece a dress for her American Girl doll from Poshmark. It’s in good condition and I guarantee she will not care for one second that it’s used. Gifting secondhand is a great way to give a unique gift in a sustainable, often more budget-friendly way!
Shop Small (when you can!)
I get it. Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, all the bigger stores are often cheap and convenient. I’ve used them in the past, I’ll use them again in the future, and I’m truly not judging if that is the route you take. But whenever you are able to shop small and support a small business (bonus if it’s local to you), I would really encourage you to try to do so. Small business owners are working SO hard, particularly in this pandemic. They are passionate and driven. They are often working to provide creative, unique, and high quality items. Yes, the shipping can be longer and the cost is sometimes higher. But more isn’t always more; sometimes one high quality item is much better than three gifts that will break, wear out fast, or quickly go out of style. Buy once, buy well and give a gift that lasts!
I bought myself some earrings from Kipepeo and I’m considering buying more as gifts this year. They’re handmade clay earrings made by a young girl working out of her home. She’s created her own business as a teenager! The earrings are beautiful and high-quality and unique. They’re also a little pricier than something I could find at Target and the shipping is often a little slow. It’s. Worth. It. It might mean I can only gift this one item instead of multiple items. It might mean I have to order now and wait a few weeks for them to arrive. It’s worth it to me! There are a lot of small business making and/or selling very cool things that you might feel are worth it to you too and I encourage you to consider it if you’re able. Even if most of your gifts are big box stores and you buy one thing from a small business, that made a difference to the small business!
What places do you like to turn to when shopping for meaningful gifts?