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Give the Perfect Gift

It's that time of the year again where we shop for gifts for our loved ones, and usually have no idea what to buy. One thing I've learned to do over the years is start a list in my phone of things people have said they wanted or needed throughout the year. This helps me gather ideas and ensure my gifts are thoughtful. Still, I found myself stuck trying to decide what to get, so I started a new list, a list of unique ideas that would make a great gift.

The key to the perfect gift isn't about how much you spend, it's about the thoughtfulness and intentionality. Here are some ideas that go beyond the typical gifts and gift cards, will help you stay on budget, and will be the perfect gift.

For Him:

I don't know about your hubby, but Bill has all the tools and BBQ things one could need. Unless he specifically tells me there's a tool he needs, I won't be buying another socket set or ratchet set anytime soon. Since we don't have children of our own, buying or making things "from the kids" doesn't work for me. He's not a tie wearer, has enough clothes, and is a fairly simple man. So, I turn to what he loves the most, besides me of, beer, and beef jerky.

For Her:

I don't think I'm difficult to buy for, but Bill would say differently. My Christmas lists are usually full of decorations for the home and that's pretty much it. Here are some thoughtful gifts that she'll actually want:

  • Etsy is one of my favorite places to find unique and customized gifts. Engrave a family recipe on a cutting board, personalize a necklace with each of your initials, engrave a wine tumbler or a beer glass. No matter what you're thinking, someone on Etsy can make it for you!

  • Subscription boxes like Stitch Fix (a clothing and accessory box), Craft Box of the Month, Coffee & Chocolate Box, FabFitFun, or shop for more subscription boxes at Goldbelly.

  • Go to a liquor store that sells exotic spirits (like Music City's Wine & Spirits) and build your own alcohol variety pack with beer, liquor or wine she's never had.

  • Personalized calendar with all your treasured pictures and special dates (see "For Family, Friends, and the Ones that have it all" section below for more details.

  • Each year Sephora has a perfume sampler kit of 13 different samples and comes with a voucher to exchange the included voucher for a FREE, FULL-SIZE fragrance.

  • Surprise her with a hands-on activity like going Axe Throwing, doing an Escape Room Game, or spend a day at the spa. If you want to really impress her, book a quick weekend getaway somewhere! Pro Tip: Groupon constantly offers cheap weekend getaways!

For Kids:

If there's anywhere to set a budget, it's here. Bill and I have a large immediate family with lots of kids and gifts can get expensive very, very quickly.

  • Five Below has been our saving grace a time or two. If you're unfamiliar with Five Below, everything is less than $5 and are actually quality products from toys and electronics to beauty supplies and clothing! This is great for ensuring each child gets a similar gift at the same price point.

  • Surprise kids each month with a subscription box like MunchPak which sends snacks from around the world or Pizza Box, which is really a gift for the entire family, because who doesn't love pizza!?

  • Kids have more toys than parents know what to do with. Teaching and showing them to give back and think of others instills responsibility, shows compassion and love, and is beneficial to moral development. We've found success in giving gifts from charitable organizations and meaningful causes. Consider a 4Ocean Bracelet that supports ocean clean-up efforts; virtually adopt a Wombat and receive a certificate, a plush wombat toy, and photo of the wombat you adopted; Bombas Socks make great stocking stuffers and Bombas donates a pair of socks to homeless shelters for every pair purchased; or even help Save the Orcas with a Tailfin Bracelet. The options are endless, find something they're interested in and look for organizations that give back.

  • Consider adopting a family for Christmas. Every year, some families struggle to provide children the same Christmas experience as their peers. Adopting a family will give hope, spread love, and will positively impact their family and yours. There are numerous organizations that you can partner with in your community by contacting churches or lower income schools. You can even choose national organizations like Soldier's Angels and Christmas Family Adoption Foundation.

For Family, Friends, and the Ones that have it all:

  • Family Calendars have always been well received by our family and friends. So much so, I've been asked to make them for my mother-in-law and grandma-in-law for the past 11 years. Stores like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens all have great templates and can be created with the 1-hour photo option. If you use the same product each year, the site stores pictures, dates, and custom details that you imported. Plus, they frequently have major sales during holidays like BOGO & 50% off, so be sure you have a coupon before you purchase!

  • Groupon is one of my favorite sites to browse for activities and things to do for groups at low prices, making it a great gift idea resource

  • Surprise them with a hands-on activity like going Axe Throwing, doing an Escape Room Game, or enjoying a Pedal Tavern/Chicago Pedal Boat outing.

  • Subscription Boxes like CauseBox, Man Crates, Jerky of the Month Club or Subscription Box are gifts that keep on giving the whole year, Clark. Find more subscription boxes at Goldbelly.

Thoughtful ways to deliver these unique gifts

If you do decide to give an intangible gift like an activity or gifts that support a charity, consider creating a fun flyer that describes the charity, gift, or cause. Here are a few one-pagers I created for friends and family, had them printed on photo paper at Walgreens, and placed in a stocking. A simple way to still have something tangible and is fun to present.

Surprise kids with their gifts in a fun way and I guarantee you they'll enjoy that more than the gift itself. Bill and I went to Five Below a few years ago and got one gift per child. We decided instead of just wrapping the present, it would be fun to find two large boxes, cut out one hole per child, add two cardboard shelves, paint the box, and put tissue paper over the holes with their names written on them so they know which hole is theirs. They had to wait turns, tear through the hole and retrieve their gift. It was a hit!

Happy Gift Hunting!



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