Of course, knowing your recipients and tapping into their hobbies, interests, etc makes sense when picking out their gifts. But if you want to go a little outside the box, here are some suggestions that meet a range of budgets and personalities. I also give helpful hints on how to save money when purchasing these items! Don’t be bashful to give a gift that you saved money on (or didn’t cost you anything at all). Remember, it’s the thought that counts, not the dollars you spend!
- Magazine subscription: This is a gift that keeps on giving all year long. If you’ve got a golf enthusiast in the family, hold off on another collared shirt or box of golf balls and dig deeper. Ordering an annual subscription to Golf Digest or some other golf lover magazine provides a year’s worth of reading material to help them with their game. Obviously, this gift idea isn’t limited to the golfers on your list. You’ve got periodicals out there that cater to all different interests like fishing, fitness, and finance. Another nice thing about this gift, is that you’ll be remembered every time a new issue is delivered!
- Custom Calendar (via VistaPrint): This is one of my best repeat gifts. It is inexpensive (under $20), has perfect timing (ready to use in January), and the customization options allow for your own special touch. Taking the time to pick out your favorite photographs and personalizing it with important dates (i.e. birthdays) on each month will guarantee that your loved one(s) will adore this calendar.
- Photographs: Framing a special picture or creating an album (perhaps highlighting the past year's events) generates a sentimental gift. With all of the photo printing services out there (like SnapFish and Picaboo), you can make a creative and personal item that will be cherished forever. You can keep the cost of the gift minimal by giving a single photo in a frame or you can go all out with a high quality photo book (which can still be done for less than $50). Look for promo codes online if you’re using a web-based printing service!
- Your Time: If you’re strapped for cash this holiday season, that doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts. You can utilize yourself and your skills to show your appreciation for those on your list. After all, that is what gift giving is supposed to represent.
Be a teacher- Perhaps you’re a great tennis player or can speak another language. Offer to teach your recipient what you know- not only will they gain the knowledge, but you’ll get to spend time together.
Fix something- Maybe you are handy and can use your skills to repair something. Eliminating a leak or that buzzing sound that’s been in the house for years will be sure to bring a smile the your recipient’s face.
Offer to babysit- The going rate for babysitting is not cheap, so if your loved one(s) has kids, give them a coupon to cash in for a few hours of your time, while they go out and enjoy themselves.
Volunteering to help out someone special in your life costs you nothing but time. It will allow for a greater level of appreciation than something found in a wrapped box.
Medium- Large Budget
- Massage: Everyone enjoys a good hour of relaxation. People don’t often make the time to treat themselves to a massage, so why not show someone that they are deserving of this luxury by buying them a gift certificate for a massage? Local spas, chiropractors, and massage centers tend to give specials this time of year like 2-for-1’s (one for them, one for you?) and in addition to their direct discounts, you can certainly find offers via coupon websites like Groupon, Voice Daily Deals, Living Social, and Gotta Half It. There are several sites out there that cater to specific regions. These are just some of the ones that I use here in the South Florida area.
- Event tickets: Check out what upcoming events are happening locally and get your gift recipient in on the action. Whether it’s their favorite band or sports team, or a musical or festival they might enjoy, this type of gift shows that you care about them and know who they are. It also creates a memory that will last them a life time, not just a season (like a sweater or a pair of sunglasses). And what is even better is getting yourself a ticket too, so you can share in the experience together! Don't you remember every concert you've been to and who was sitting next to you while you sand along to your favorite tunes?
- Restaurant gift certificates: If there’s something we all have in common, it’s that we all have to eat. This necessity can lead to the perfect gift. I’m sure there’s a restaurant in town that your gift recipient has never tried, but you know they would love it. Or maybe they like to stick to the places they know. Whatever their dining preference may be, this is a great gift because it gives them a chance to go out and enjoy a nice meal on your dime. During the holidays, a lot of restaurants give incentives for buying gift cards (i.e. an extra $20 with a $100 purchase), so check out the local eateries and see what’s available. See Discounted Dining for more info. on how to purchase gift certificates for less.
- A Life Experience: Whether you are aware of it or not, there are activities constantly happening in your surrounding area that could be the greatest thing to get for the people on your list. It could be something over the top like a helicopter or hot air balloon ride, or something a little less extravagant like a wine tasting, cooking class, or renting kayaks for the day. There are activities of all sorts, to fit all budgets and interests, occurring all around you- just do a little research, and you can make someone on your list a happy camper. The discounted coupon sites also tend to have a lot of these “experiences” advertised at great savings, so keep an eye out for them!
These are just a few ideas that I hope allow you to check some (or all) of the people off your list or at the very least, help get the ball rolling for more thoughtful gift ideas than the typical ones. But if you’re still looking for something to wrap up and deliver, remember there are lots of deals online and you don’t have to deal with the store crowds to save money! Check out my article on Fat Wallet where I tell you how to earn/save money by shopping online.