You don’t have to spend a buttload of money to give your people thoughtful gifts this holiday season. Often it’s the smallest packages and gestures that mean the most. Stumped? Here are a few easy ways to show someone you really care. Gift cards are lame – we can do better.
1. In lieu of a framed photo, print a little book of your favorite Instagrams on a site like Print Studio (formerly known as Printstagram). You can select a handful of your most beloved photos and they’ll bind it into a tiny book. I gave one to my dad last year and it was his favorite gift.
2. Does one of your dude friends flip for Jameson? Infuse it. We did this a few years ago and gave jars to our friends and landlord, and everyone loved it. It was so easy and our landlord in particular was touched by the gesture.
3. A classic Moleskine notebook with a few sweet words written in the inside cover is a great gift for the writer in your life. I stockpile these things and have them in various handbags and drawers.
4. My dad is always complaining that his coffee a) spills all over his precious pickup and b) doesn’t stay cold. We listened to his complaints one year and bought him a hardcore Thermos to take along, since he spends a good deal of time on the road. Listening to your loved ones’ concerns and desires throughout the year equals a super-thoughtful, often useful gift at Christmas.
5. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a big fan of buying antique prints on Etsy to frame and give as gifts. You support small businesses and get something totally unique.
6. Did you spend hours playing a certain game with your family when you were a kid? Has that game disappeared? Find a cute vintage version online and grab it for a sibling or your parents. Play again when you’re home for the holidays.
7. If your mom likes to relax with a good book, make her a little relaxation package: a new book, a box of fancy tea (Aveda’s is yummy) and some cozy slippers or a pretty candle. Or offer to help her program her iPod and iPad without complaining. (Ha.)
8. Nice, high-quality blankets are always appreciated, especially if the receiver lives in a cold climate or is always a little chilly. It seems like a lame gift at first, but it’s the kind that comes in handy over and over again.
9. A stack of your favorite childhood books with a sweet inscription is a perfect gift for the little readers in your life.
10. Ready to let your significant other into your world on a whole ‘nother level? Give them a key to your place wrapped up in a cute little box.
11. Antique and vintage books can be had for very little cash at thrift stores. Get them for your history-obsessed brother or best friend. If anything, they’re pretty decorations, too!
12. Buy a pack of blowouts, manicures or spray tans for a friend who is going through a tough time or a breakup. A little beauty boost can help her regain confidence and feel more optimistic about everything in her life.
13. Does your younger sibling have a record player? Find them vinyl copies of the music your parents listened to when you were kids. Aw, nostalgia.
14. Some of us don’t have fancy cars we can stream our iPhones through. Mix CDs are cute stocking stuffers – tailor them to each person, or make your own special Christmas mix year after year.
15. Give your Type A friend these adorable “Daily Page” notepads; she can list and organize to her heart’s content!
16. Have a friend who just moved into a new place? This is the only time I’d advocate giving a gift card. Give her one to Target and one to Home Goods for those pesky needs that crop up when you move. Wrap them with some pretty dishtowels to make them feel more special.
17. This year, I’m donating to a few small organizations in the name of some of my late loved ones. Do the same for a friend or family member who has lost someone they love.