how to give meaningful gifts this holiday season (& birthdays!)

I love a well-thought-out gift. 

While I would not consider myself a materialistic person, I do love when a gift screams “I know you well, I care about you deeply, and I’ve noticed this about you.”  I spend a lot of energy trying to make my gifts do just that. I realize quality gift-giving doesn’t come naturally to most people. So with the wisdom I’ve gathered along my gift-giving journeys, I decided to put together this little guide to help you brainstorm ideas for this holiday season. 

  1. A memory

If someone is a close friend or relative, memories with them are often the most cherished. Memories can be “given” in many packages such as:

  • a book of photographs
  • a short “film” of your video memories together
  • a favorite photograph printed and framed
  • a song written and recorded for them
  • a commissioned piece of artwork of a special place you share
  • a favorite letter from you framed 
  1. A favorite piece of art, music, or literature.

Art is often a point of bonding for many friends and families. Some of my dearest friendships began because of shared love for musicians or books. 

  • commission a local artist to paint/mold/print something personal
  • a beautiful or antique version of their favorite book
  • the lyrics to their favorite song artfully printed & framed
  • a CD or playlist with all your shared favorite songs
  •  a t-shirt or poster of their favorite band
  • a signed CD of their favorite artist (if it’s obtainable of course)
  1. An experience

This can be as expensive or cheap as you want it to be. Examples include

  • plan a surprise picnic or dance party
  • buy concert tickets for the two of you
  • hire a local photographer for a surprise photo session
  • purchase dance lessons or pottery classes for the two of you 
  • set up a “drive-in” movie in your backyard
  • go on a day-trip to their favorite near-by city
  • take them for a “fashion show” in the dressing room at their favorite clothing store and purchasing them their favorite item
  • take them to a fancy food store to buy ingredients for a fancy meal together
  1. A personalized assortment

This is a basket full of small things that you think they’ll love. You can even make it fun, and put a little note on each thing you put in there and say why you put it in there! There’s a million different things that could go in here, but as for some suggestions:

  • their favorite expensive snack, candy, tea, or coffee
  • a small gift card to their local coffee shop
  • their favorite type of writing utensil
  • an artsy postcard
  • a cheap t-shirt you found at a thrift store that looked like them
  • a good-smelling candle
  • a plant or flowers
  • an ornament
  • fancy soap
  • a funny card
  1. Nothing at all

Sometimes you’re in a season where you are low on money, and nothing you can think of seems to be worth it. At this point, my friends and family have a mutual understanding that it’s appropriate to not waste money, but instead just write a sweet note, pick up some wildflowers on the road, and give them a good squeeze around the neck! There’s no shame in this. 

Few quick tips on pricing:

  1. If it’s for one friend, BAND TOGETHER with other friends to give them a better gift together than you could have apart!
  2. Price ≠ Quality. If a gift doesn’t cost much, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t MEAN much, and just because a gift is expensive, doesn’t mean it means anything.
  3. Don’t be afraid of second-hand gifts. There is NO shame in a high-quality thrift-store find!
  4. Never underestimate the power of a hand-written letter with genuine sentiment & some home-baked goods or hand-picked flowers.

I plan to do a follow-up post called “why gift-giving matters.” This might sound odd to most, or possibly even materialistic! However, I hope you are surprised that my argument comes from neither a materialistic or a consumerist perspective. In fact, I think it’s pretty gospel-centered. Check my social media to see it coming out soon!

In Him,

Mary Mad

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