It’s the same story every Christmas, isn’t it? Without fail, the same expensive “big ticket” items top seemingly everyone’s wish list. Whether it’s expensive jewelry, new cars or the latest video game system, each Christmas is inseparably linked with the hot gifts everybody wants that year. And sure, dropping big bucks on these items is a pretty sure-fire way of pleasing the people on your Christmas list. But what about originality? Believe it or not, you can put a smile on someone’s face this Christmas without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars – and without the same impersonal, cookie-cutter gifts everyone else is obsessing over. Here are 12 thoughtful Christmas gifts that show you did more than swipe a credit card.
It’s a cliche, but sometimes the most warmly appreciated gifts are those that come from the heart. And few gifts are more heartfelt and personal than a lovingly constructed scrapbook. Whether the intended recipient is a spouse, child or friend, a scrapbook filled with your most cherished shared memories is sure to elicit smiles and appreciation for years to come. Fill it with anything significant that the two of you have shared: pictures, movie stubs, vacation tickets and souvenirs, bumper stickers, inside jokes, and anything else that captures your unique relationship with that person. The result will be a treasured keepsake your recipient enjoys forever.
A great supplement or replacement for a scrapbook is a collage. Think of it as a scrapbook of just pictures. Begin with a large canvas (poster board works great) and a shoebox of pictures. Then, try to arrange them on the canvas in some symbolic or meaningful way. For example, if the recipient is your boyfriend or girlfriend, consider arranging photos of the two of you from different periods of time – say, beginning from when you met and ending with the pictures most recently taken. Much like a scrapbook, a well-done collage is more meaningful than any store-bought item because it is literally a tribute to one or two unique people. ScrapBooks.com and similar websites offer great deals on starter supplies for any scrapbook you choose to create.
Pandora Charms (have unique meanings)
Jewelry makes a great gift, but it isn’t usually very customizable. The diamond bracelet you buy your wife or girlfriend is being purchased by hundreds (if not thousands) of other men the very same day you bought yours. A rare exception to cookie-cutter jewelry are Pandora charms. Unlike most jewelry, Pandora bracelets and charms are 100% customizable. Begin with a bracelet or necklace and attach any of literally hundreds of different charms, ranging from animals to astrology signs to flowers. The charms can be purchased at virtually any mall in the country and at numerous online retailers.
Gift Certificates (spa, etc.)
Some may be surprised to see gift certificates listed as a thoughtful, personalized gift. It is widely believed that gift cards reek of thoughtlessness. However, seen from another perspective, they might be the most personal gift you can give. Yes, it’s tough to put an original spin on a gift card to Subway or Burger King. But what about gift certificates to places you know the intended recipient loves, like bookstores or health and beauty spas? Chances are, these people have long lists of books they’d like to buy “eventually” or spa treatments they’d love to try “someday.” With some thoughtful gift card purchases, you can give these people exactly what they’ve been longing for all year.
Artifacts From First Meeting or Date
Call us cheesy, but what better way to make your better half happy on Christmas morning than with artifacts from your earliest encounters? If you met on a beach, go back one day (alone, of course) and scoop up a small bottle of sand from where you met. If you met at a park, go and pick some fresh flowers and snap a photo of where you were standing. If you met at a bar, see if you can buy a glass or souvenir with the bar’s name on it. The idea is showing that your first kiss or meeting was memorable enough to you to encapsulate into a gift many months or years later, in recognition of when it all began.
Another heart-warming way of capturing personal memories in your Christmas gifts is the memory box. Generally speaking, a memory box contains memorabilia from throughout your friendship or romantic relationship with another person. But remember – just because a gift is heartfelt doesn’t mean it has to be tacky. Don’t use a cheap cardboard box from the garage. Instead, visit a website like FindGifts or a local arts and crafts store. Special boxes are available for just this purpose, some of which can even be engraved with special quotes or phrases that personalize the memory box even more.
Locket With Photo Inside
No list of thoughtful Christmas gifts would be complete without the locket and photograph. There’s a reason so many movies and soap operas show distressed women drawing comfort from having her husband or boyfriend’s picture close at heart. Dripping with personality and sentiment, it’s a gift all women love – and for good reason. If you’re looking to show a casual girlfriend that you’re ready to start taking things seriously, a locket with your photo inside (or one of the two of you) makes a wonderfully thoughtful Christmas gift!
Homemade Tree Ornaments
One of the criminally under-appreciated romantic or family bonding moments of the Christmas season is decorating the tree. Luckily, this presents an opportunity for the creative gift-giver to work their magic. Homemade and personally significant Christmas tree ornaments make great gifts. Just wait until decoration night comes and all the usual ornaments are already put up. Then, spring out your gift-wrapped ornament and tell the recipient that they forgot one. Let them open it and watch their eyes widen with excitement.
Unlike many gifts, books must be selected with particular people in mind. Your 15 year old nephew wont like the same books that your 40 year old sister does. This makes books an ideal choice for personalized and thoughtful gift-giving. If you have an avid reader (or several) on your gift list, think long and hard about the types of books they enjoy. Which books have you seen them reading or heard them talking about? Better yet, do they have public wish lists on websites like Amazon? Before long, you should have all the clues necessary to buy books that your recipients will truly enjoy getting as Christmas gifts.
If you have young sons, daughters, nephews or nieces, what better to give them than the classic board games every generation loves? No child should grow up without playing Monopoly, Life, Clue or the other myriad games that make up traditional, early childhood play. If you’re looking for an alternative to mind-numbing shoot-em-up video games, look no further. These classics will develop critical thinking skills, stimulate imagination, and create priceless memories for any young person you give them to.
The movie buff on your list will be happier to receive some timeless flicks than just about anything else you could buy them. Much like book-buying, being selective is critical here. Different people are going to like different kinds of movies, and you don’t want to be “that guy” who just buys whatever big box-office hit came out on DVD last week. Try to pay attention to the types of movies the recipient enjoys most, and hit the stores. Between Walmart and Amazon, there’s no excuse not to track down the exact DVD or video your recipient will love.
Personal Mix CDs
Some people love books, some people love movies, and still others love music. And we’ve yet to meet the callous soul who doesn’t love listening to mix CDs burned especially for them. Knowing you took the time to carefully select each song on the track list makes the CD all the more special, and your recipient will think of you every time they listen. Of course, burning a personal mix CD as a Christmas gift works best if there is some kind of theme involved. Rather than simply burning a CD of random songs by their favorite bands, see if you can arrange them in some symbolic way – perhaps commemorating a period of the recipient’s life or memories the two of you shared.