Can you believe the holiday season is upon us?! My inbox is bursting with coupon codes and freebies from companies hoping for a sale. And while I’d love to buy ALL the things, it’s just not practical. So instead of piling boxes of toys under the tree or on the table, here are a few ideas that will WOW your loved ones without a lot of clutter.
#1 Buddy Day
If your recipient enjoys a favorite hobby, create a gift certificate to do it together. Heading to the hills for a hike on their favorite trail, tagging along to (window) shop the outlets, or hanging out at the firing range are all great ways to spend time together.
Do you possess a unique skill like playing an instrument, decorating cakes, woodworking, or crocheting? Create a gift certificate providing time to teach that skill to your recipient. I know you won’t be able to teach ALL of it, but consider it an introduction. You can also reach out to local artisans, fitness studios, or online course companies to purchase a gift certificate for a class. Groupon is a great place to look for discounted classes.
#3 Coupon Books
There are hundreds of FREE, online templates for little books you can staple together or tie up with a pretty ribbon. They’re great gifts for all ages, but particularly the young and the old. Include acts of service like reading books together, using the REALLY messy finger paint, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, or prepping meals ahead of time.
#4 Covert Old Data
No matter who you are, you’ve got old data on obsolete technology that you want to save. Your loved ones are no exception. You can transfer the data yourself if you’ve got the hardware/software or you can purchase a gift certificate for your loved one to have it done elsewhere. IMemories, SouthTree, and Costco offer these services.
#5 Date Night in a Box
Grab some of your favorite drinks, print a copy of the menu, and toss in some items that you’ll need for your night out.
#6 DIY Talk Topics
Foster conversation around the dinner table with printed conversation starters. Find a fun box at your local craft store or Goodwill to store the cards in and wrap with a pretty bow.
#7 Floral Arrangements
If you’ve got a knack for creating beautiful bouquets, use that talent to spread some joy! Purchase vases at Goodwill and flowers from your grocer to create one of a kind arrangements!
#8 Get Crafty
Create wooden trivets, whip together a scarf and mitten set, or sew up a blanket using your recipient’s favorite colors or patterns. Grab a piece of reclaimed wood (possibly from your deck project earlier this year) and give it new life with vinyl lettering.
#9 Go Green
Does your loved one love the environment? Pick up some new recycling containers for their garage or help them to build a composting bin out back. Give seed packets or baby plants to children.
#10 Homemade Treats
Do you love to bake? Whip up something tasty like mini-loaves or assorted cookie tins to give out during the holidays. Include the recipe with your treats so that the memory of your gift remains long after the goodies are gone.
#11 Ingredient Sets
If you know someone who likes to bake (or a child that likes to make), then this experience idea is for you. Gather all the ingredients your recipient will need to make a recipe you’ve found and package them in a gift basket you picked up at your local Goodwill. (I’m a huge fan of giving ingredients for making slime or playdough for little ones, particularly because I get to throw in a container of glitter!)k
#12 Meal Prep
Everyone is getting the flyers for pricey meal prep companies that send you boxes with the exact ingredients you need. You can gift someone the same service and take it one step further by assembling the ingredients. Make balls of chocolate chip cookie dough, freeze them on a cookie sheet, then drop them into Ziploc bags by the dozen. Write baking directions on the bag and give these with an entrée you’ve assembled in a bag or metal tin. Busy people LOVE a good homemade meal. When you can’t deliver a hot meal to their doorstep, give them a prepped freezer meal that only requires thawing and baking.
#13 Movie, Show, or Event Tickets
Use these printable tickets when you don’t know which movie you’ll see together; or simply pick up the tickets in advance. Wrap them in a box and include some snacks like Mike & Ikes or chocolate covered pretzels.
#14 Music + Apps
While giving a mixed tape might be a thing of the past, you can still give the gift of music online through gift cards and subscriptions. All kinds of apps exist for educational games, recipe organization, home inventories, and data storage. Purchase the app, set it up for your recipient, and then teach them how to use it.
#15 Pampering Appointment
Treat the men in your life to an old-fashioned hot shave at the new barber shop in town. Women love manicures and pedicures. Check your local Groupon for deals! If giving a gift certificate doesn’t feel like “enough,” add in a few items that go along with your theme like a fancy can of shaving cream or some nail polish and a manicure set. You can find gift items like these at TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Home At Last, Target, and many others.
#16 Puzzles for Days
Open the door for intense shoulder-to-shoulder time when you give the gift of puzzles. Pick a design that reflects a memory you share with your recipient(s) or select something they personally would enjoy. Dollar Tree carries a variety of puzzles made just for kids, as well 1000-piecers for the braver souls.
#17 Service Appointments
This idea isn’t so fancy, but it’s great for the practical people in your life who aren’t big gift-givers. Pay for an oil change, spray for weeds/pests, or repair a leaky faucet for your recipient. Women would love for someone to come and help them pick out paint colors, clean the baseboards, decorate for the holidays, organize their pantry, or babysit their kiddos!
Make a one-time donation or “adopt an animal” at a zoo for a fun, clutter-free gift. The non-profit will most likely send you a picture or literature that you can include with your gift. The only caution here is to make sure the sponsorship or donation is for a cause your recipient appreciates.
You can conduct them yourself or find a local tour guide to introduce your gift recipient to the treasures at the local museum, behind the scenes at your zoo, through the gardens of an old plantation, or even historical landmarks in a nearby city.
#20 Treasure Hunts
Print off a map or a list of items your recipient will need to search for. Maybe it’s a list of famous barbecue joints, playgrounds, or statues. Include clues or facts in your treasure hunt and consider joining your recipient on the hunt to make memories together. You’ll have to do a bit of planning on the front end to pull this off, but it’s well worth the effort.