5 Ideas for Meaningful Gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have all come and gone and many people are completely done with their shopping.  I have the bad habit of waiting until the last-minute to think about holiday gifts, which typically means I end up spending more money, make impulse buys and am not satisfied with my purchases.

This year I wanted to make my presents more meaningful. If you still have gifts to buy and are interested in doing the same, here are a few ideas.


1. Give experiences, not things

I read this article a month ago and have been thinking about it since. The idea is that most kids have soooo many toys, so why not give them “the gifts of experience, adventure, and more importantly, familiarity that they truly need instead of the things—toys, games, clothes—that they didn’t even really know about or want?”

The Mom who wrote it decided to start a new tradition and ask that their friends and family offer these experiences and time spent with their boys instead of money spent on them.

Our kids loves to get out and do things. They also have a lot of toys that are never used. (On my list this holiday season is to donate all of those collecting dust!)  We just moved to a city full of many things to do – museums galore, sports, whale watching, swan boat tours, ice skating, plays, concerts, performances and the list could go on. So it’s a perfect time to give the gift of experiences to my kids…museum memberships, Disney on Ice & Harlem Globetrotters tickets (hint hint family:)

As I was writing this my sister (who also has 4) called and asked if we could skip presents with the kids this year and instead DO something fun with all of them together. I loved the idea. It looks like we may be starting our own new tradition, as well with the cousins!

2. Shop local and support small businesses

There are so many benefits to shopping at local, independently owned businesses (read 10 of them here) and holiday shopping is the perfect time to think local first.

If you want to stick to online shopping, Etsy is a great place to support independent businesses and artists. They even have a gift guide broken out by price if you need suggestions. My favorite baby gift is personalized burp cloths from my friend’s  store, Cosmic Thimble. She also has the best tooth fairy pillows.

I wanted to find something unique and meaningful for my sister and her new husband for their wedding gift and found lots of choices on Etsy. I ended up with this personalized cutting board by Rustic Craft. They love cooking and it plays a special part of their relationship, so I was hoping they would like it & by what they have told me, they do!

cutting board, personalized gift

3. Donate to a charity in honor of your loved one

Last year I was trying to think of a gift for my mother-in-law, a breast cancer survivor, and she said (like every year) – don’t get me anything! Of course, we never want to come empty-handed, so she suggested donating to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I loved the idea and now will be donating every year in her honor. My mother passed away from breast cancer 13 years ago, so donating to breast cancer research, outreach and advocacy is meaningful on both sides of our family.

Every year since 2008, when my nephews were born 14 weeks early and spent 67 days in the NICU, we have donated to the March of Dimes in their honor for their birthdays. We have also gotten them presents because for 5-year olds a donation is NOT a fun gift! But, it is meaningful for us and hopefully my sister and her husband!

You could also give the gift of a donating a tree in the name of an eco-friendly friend or family member. Or you could donate to an organization like Oxfam and plant a vegetable garden or fruit tree or provide a bicycle or water purifier for a family in poverty. The possibilities are endless. Plus remember the key to a lifetime of happiness? Donating is a win-win gift!

4. Write a letter

How often do you sit down and tell your friends and family how much they mean to you? Not just “I love you”, but specific things about them that are special or that you love.

Everyone loves to be praised, whether they admit it or not, so why not take the time to let your loved ones know just how important they really are to you. My dad tells me he keeps every single one of the cards & thank you notes we send him. I do the same thing :)  So, if anyone else is like us, this could be a gift that lasts a lifetime.

5.Homemade and DIY Gifts

Like the letter, I think any gift that you take the time to make yourself is very meaningful. I always love getting mason jar gifts (here are 25 recipes). If the artwork framed in our parents house is any indication, I’m pretty sure they love the pictures made especially for them by their grand-kids.

Last year, we tried out homemade sugar scrub and chalkboard potted plants and herbs for gifts. sugar scrub, DIY

Be Happy, potted plants, diy







I’m looking into new ideas, so let me know if you have any suggestions!!


Gift giving can be stressful – if you let it.  There have been times I fretted forever, couldn’t decide what to give and ended up not giving anything at all! I have had really great intentions, but got overwhelmed and the recipient never knew how much I was thinking about them.

Now, I try to remember that really it’s not about the gift, it’s about the love in the gift-giving. If you remember that, it may help take the stress away.

What about you? What type of presents to you give? Any favorite meaningful gift ideas??

PS- If you really want to make gift-giving easy this year by shopping on Amazon and having all of your gifts shipped to your door, I’ll have a list up soon with some wellness-inspired ideas!