If There's Been a Year to Be Thoughtful, It's This Year - Here's 10 Meaningful Gift Ideas for This Holiday Season

Ren D


Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

With the challenges of this year, the downright horror for some, the holiday season may seem extra daunting. What do you get your family and friends? The usual gift card seems too impersonal in a year where social interaction was minimal. What do you get someone who has lost a family member or friend this year?

We've all learned lessons this year. We've learned the value of our normal lives. We miss seeing our elderly parents, or grandparents. We miss seeing our friends. We miss convening in large groups. We miss big events. We pretty much miss everything we normally did.

So, this year when thinking of gifts, it's essential we put some thought into it. It's been a year where we're all more self-aware, our gift giving should be the same.

Here are ten meaningful gift ideas for this year.

1. Give an experience.

Think about an activity the person would enjoy doing and gift it, or partially gift it. Would she like rock climbing? Would he like skiing? Would they like a night away? Depending on your budget, think of an experience they would enjoy and put money towards that experience. You're giving more than just a gift. You're giving a memory.

2. Give a functional item.

Yesterday my family and I went on a hike in the snow. As we walked through the winter wonderland, I was surprisingly warm. Last year, my husband gave me gaiters for Christmas. For those unfamiliar, they are fabric that provides protection against snow or mud from entering the top of your boot. I wore Athleta polartec leggings that I wear when hiking in the cold, the gaiters, my usual hiking shoes and micro spikes, yet another gift from my husband last year. I was able to easily walk in the snow. This allowed me to enjoy what we were doing rather than focus on the cold. These functional gifts didn't seem too exciting when I received them. But yesterday showed me their value. By giving the gift of function, you're contributing to the enjoyment of an experience.

3. Give a meaningful gift.

Did your friend lose someone this year? Did she have a baby this year? Consider the occurrences of this year before purchasing a gift. For someone who experienced loss this year, an engraved picture frame or donation to specific charity may be a good idea. For a couple with a newborn, personalized gifts are always a good choice.

Thinking back to the year I lost my father, I would have appreciated receiving something of his, or a recollection of a memory we had together. He was a Leo and had a chain with a lion pendant. My mother gave it to me shortly after he passed. It is the most meaningful gift I have ever received.

4. Give a gift for the house.

We have all spent a lot of time at home this year. We've had time to realize if we love our space, or if we need to work on improving it. In that time, we've decluttered, organized and purchased some new items. If you've heard your friend spending time doing any of these things, consider buying them a gift for the house. You can gift a house plant or organization bin. It may seem impersonal but these gifts mean something. It means you thought about what she’s doing and gifted something of value.

5. Give a gift for a hobby.

My friend recently commented she's been into art lately. She's had a particularly tough year and has used art as therapy. She colors and paints. She draws. I met her a few weeks ago for dinner. I wanted to give her a gift for the holidays. I bought her a sketchbook and monochromatic pencils with charcoal. She opened the gift in front of me and smiled. It was one of the best giving experiences. I knew she would use the gifts and giving her something she would use made me happy.

Think about what your friend enjoys doing and purchase something for that hobby. I hike a lot and over the years, my husband has purchased most of my hiking gear. It is my most used clothing.

My brother has started woodworking this year. As he starts a new project, he borrows a couple things from my husband. For Christmas this year, we got him a pocket hole jig. While it won't be the most exciting thing to open on Christmas, I know it’s something he will use.

6. Give more of a loved product.

Everyone has brands they love. Their moisturizer brand or favorite body oil.

When my brother and I were in college, my mother would fill our stockings with toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash and conditioner. We'd laugh when opening them but we were thankful. For the small budgets we had, these gifts went a long way.

I use Loccitane products. I love the way they feel on my skin. I have the hand lotion, foot lotion, and immortelle divine line. It's a no brainer gift for me. I will use what I'm given.

7. Give a subscription.

Does your friend enjoy reading? Give him a subscription to Audible or Medium. Does he enjoy podcasts or music? Give him a premium membership to Spotify.

8. Give a meal service.

We’ve all been home too much this year. We’ve cooked more than we have before. For those working virtually with kids in virtual school, lunch is painful. Give a gift of a meal service. If they enjoy cooking, consider a service that sends ingredients with a recipe so they can follow it and try something new.

9. Gift the gift of baby or pet sitting.

For those on a budget, this is a great idea. When life goes back to normal, people will race to the airport. Pet adoptions have skyrocketed this year. For a person with a new furry friend, give the gift of pet sitting. It may not be something they use immediately but they eventually will.

10. Give the gift of learning.

Do you have a friend that’s looking for something more? He may not be fulfilled with his career, or looking to get into something new. Maybe she’s started a side hustle and wants to learn to market it. By purchasing a class, or online learning course, you’re contributing to their growth. You are helping them get one step further into a trade they are considering, or a new hobby they want to learn.

For someone looking to further their career, consider a premium subscription to Linked In so they can take advantage of Linked In learning modules. There are many other services with a variety of courses. Udemy courses are a great option for a budding software developer.

This year has shown us that experiences are more valuable than materialistic things. The ideas above are meant to get you to think outside of the box. They’ll enable you to give a gift that’s not going to sit in someone’s closet and eventually be donated.

By considering the ideas above, you’ll give your friend more than just a gift. You may contribute to their growth as a person. You may help them find their purpose. You may contribute to them finding their passion. These are the types of gifts we could all use this year.


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On a journey to find fulfillment. I write about personal growth and development, love, minimalism and life lessons.


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