Your Holiday Gift-Giving Guide

Once again this holiday season, everyone is abuzz with finding the perfect gift for friends and family. This is no easy task. Sometimes the perfect gift just comes to you, or seems to magically appear in a shop window. Other times, you’ll find yourself wracking your brain, wondering what you can possibly get for the person who has EVERYTHING.

With the hope that this takes some of the pressure and stress off this gift-giving time, here is a small guide:

1. The Make-it-yourself Option

Have a talent? Paint or draw a picture! Are you a fast learner? Learn to knit an easy scarf! Love to do arts and crafts? Make a shadow box or a terrarium! Head to Michael’s (even just to get some inspiration) or another crafty store, and take a crack at the homemade option. The possibilities extend as far as you can imagine.

Some of my favorites:sewing jar

  • Scarf, mittens, misc. knitted items (super easy to learn, check out YouTube)
  • Terrariums
  • Candles – Check out this link for some ideas
  • Baked Goods (in a nice, festive tin)
  • Mini holiday/themed kits. Take a mason jar and fill it with goodies. My sister made me a mini sewing kit to take with me to school; she filled a mason jar with thread and needles, scissors, and a mini tape measure – super cute. You can do the same with hot chocolate mix and marshmallows!

2. The Sentimental Option

Have a some parents or family members that seriously miss you? Feeling homesick yourself? Sometimes a meaningful gift can mean more than any knick-knack. A few ideas: Look through some old family pictures and put a photo album or scrapbook together. It’s cute and nostalgic, and will be a hit with parents. You can also find a recent family photo and have it nicely framed; parents love having a updated picture of the fam to hang up at home.

3. The Inside Joke / I-just-know-you-that-well Option

When you’ve known someone for a while, you start accumulating hilarious stories and unique moments. Get something in memory of one of your many inside jokes, or something that aligns with your friend’s/family member’s main hobby or interest, and you’re sure to have a winner.

*I once gave my best friend a pineapple (we were obsessed with the show Psych at the time, and she loved it. We were also really into preparing for the zombie apocalypse at one point (who wasn’t, really?), so a book to help the cause was the perfect gift!

4. The Something-they-actually-need/can-use Option

Worst comes to worst – ask them! Maybe someone you’re buying a gift for actually needs something. Sometimes buying something useful is just as good/better than buying something they will never use. Colorful, patterned or festive socks are always a winner; everyone needs socks. 

Is a friend or family member traveling/studying abroad soon? Get them a journal where they can log their memories, or a large map where they can track the places they’ve visited when they return. Sometimes many travelers are on a budget, so sometimes it is extremely helpful to contribute to their trip or gift them something they could use abroad. Again, extra socks never hurt. 

5. The Gift Card Option 

The least original, but sometimes just what a friend or family member needs. And it doesn’t have to be a generic target gift card. Get thoughtful! Maybe a gift card for their favorite coffee shop (for when they need to escape the cold) or a gift card to a spa for a massage or a manicure/pedicure. You can also go the DIY route and offer a IOU, for a homemade dinner on you, or something of the sort.

6. The I-just-started-university-and-nobody-has-swag-yet Option

A slightly more expensive option if you’re doing all of your shopping at the local university bookstore, but it is definitely an option if you’ve just started college and you have friends/family members who could use some school swag. Family members will be proud to don your alma mater’s colors and name on their bodies and car windows.

*Last year, my friend who goes to University of Michigan sent “Michigan Mom” and “Michigan Dad” shirts to her parents, and a “Michigan Friend” shirt to me.

If you’re still feeling completely lost, take a minute to really think about the person you’re buying a gift for. Gifts should be thoughtful! Also, remind yourself that this season is about spending time with family and friends – it’s easy to get caught up in, but it’s not all about the gifts.

(But getting presents sure is great!)


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