How to pick the most personal, affordable gifts
Holiday gift shopping can leave you feeling like you’ve hit a wall — because you’re out of gift ideas, or worse yet, because you’ve run out of funds. Either way, we have suggestions that will help finish off your holiday gift list without a single grumble of “bah humbug!” or “how can I afford it?”
Think experiences rather than things. This philosophy opens up a whole set of gift options that make it easier to give thoughtful, personalized gifts that can flex to whatever your gift-giving budget might be.
Check out some of our favorite ideas:
- A lesson or class ~ Who doesn’t love to try out something new, something they’ve been meaning to pursue? Class examples include dance, art, music, cooking, mixology, yoga, spin, or depending on your budget — even a session with a personal trainer. You can purchase a class for your recipient only, or make it more fun and include one for yourself too. Before you buy, always check out the website and do a search to see if there are any discounts available like Groupon.
- A helpful home service ~ There are a lot of meal kit services out there, and the competition benefits us. Many offer generous first-time discounts (or referral specials if you use the service yourself). It’s not hard to find one that allows for ordering just one or two meals on a one-off basis. Or, pay for an hour or two of a cleaning service, a trusted babysitter or maybe a home organization expert to help clean out closets.
- The gift of time ~ This one is a bigger deal than many of us might think. When everyone is constantly connected, multitasking, and stretched too thin, time is an extra valuable commodity. This gift comes in two forms — 1. Gift your own, undivided attention via a warmly written note or handmade certificate. Think a special date night with a spouse or significant other, or time at a favorite park with a child, or simply a walk on a beach and uninterrupted conversation with a friend. (Undivided attention = no compulsive cell phone use, in case you’re wondering.) 2. Give a helping hand, a special talent or skill. Create a special note or certificate for this one too, offering to cook dinner, tutor a needed skill, deliver and arrange flowers once a week for a month, babysit, take the dog for a walk, etc. Get creative and see the smiles that happen when your certificate is redeemed.
- The gift of ideas and knowledge ~ Think about how busy we all are, and how much we appreciate when someone else reviews a product, curates a list, or suggests where to go. And then, think about how special and valuable it is when it’s personalized just for you. This only requires a little thought and time, along with creating an attractive written list and a warm personal message.
First, consider who your recipient is, and what you know of their interests. Next, decide what they’d most like to know about. Then, write up a list of your favorite podcasts, books, blog sites, wines, restaurants, hiking trails, etc. that you know they’d appreciate. This works equally well for colleagues, loved ones, friends and neighbors. You can be sincere, heartfelt, funny or just informative, depending on how you put together the info. It’s another way to give of yourself, be thoughtful and creative.
Not sure where to start? Try one of these examples:
For a colleague – Write up a list of your favorite business, leadership or motivational podcasts. Not into podcasts? Do the same for books instead. Be sure to make a comment or two on what you liked about each item on your list, or give a helpful description. If you want to spend a little, consider including an iTunes or book store gift card.
For a fellow wine lover – Put together a list of favorite wines you’ve tried over the last year, or a short list of best wine shops for hard-to-get wines, or maybe even best bargain finds. Friends and family know you know them, and the suggestions you make will mean so much more than finding a generic list on the internet. A small gift card to that wine shop is a nice add if you feel like it.
For a fitness fiend – This one works well if you’re one too. Put together a playlist of favorite workout tunes, or a list of the best new exercise classes you’ve attended over the last year.
For the outdoors enthusiast – You know where you love to hike, bike and walk. Now share those places and describe what’s great about them. Attach the list and personal message you create to a bottle of your favorite sunscreen, or an insulated water bottle.
Take it from those of us who have already tried this approach to holiday gift-giving. Your holiday stress you will lighten, and your bank account and credit cards will get a breather. Best of all you’ll light up faces and earn some extra tight hugs when you hand out presents this year. But don’t just take our word for it, see what happens for yourself.