Buying gifts — whether they are for your child, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your spouse, your mother or father, or a friend of other family member–is difficult. The last thing you want to hear your loved one say when you have spent a lot of time and money on picking something out is, “Well, it’s the thought that counts.” Gift cards were introduced in the 1990’s and their popularity has risen in drastic proportions over the years. In 2016, gift card sales amounted to 140 billion US dollars and has been on a steady rise ever since. While they are an easy option and allow the person receiving the card to spend the money on what they please, it’s not as personal or meaningful as a gift you pick out or make. Below are some ideas for affordable and thoughtful gifts if you are having trouble coming up with something but don’t want to give in to purchasing a simple gift card.
Make it Personal
The most important thing about giving someone a gift is using it to show him or her how well you know and care about him or her. You can tailor a gift to your recipient in many ways. One way is to create a personalized photo album. You can include pictures of the recipient and the two of you together, particularly if you have known each other for several years or been on multiple adventures together. Another great idea is to order something along the lines of personalized books for adults. You can find fill-in journals with prewritten prompts and questions that you can fill in the answers to as they relate to the future recipient. With a company like Heartfelt Books, you can fill in the answers to questions that you choose (based on how well they fit with your relationship) online and they will send you a beautiful hard-bound book to give.
Give to a Charity in His/Her Honor
For people who always tell you that they don’t want anything for their birthday or Christmas, a great option would be to donate money to one of their favorite organizations. A 2013 study found that people felt happier after giving in a personalized manner rather than an anonymous fashion, especially if it is the holiday season, you and your loved one will feel great knowing that your gift is going to help someone in need.
Create a DIY Craft
Giving a handmade gift is always a great option, even if you aren’t a particularly crafty person. It shows your loved one that you took time and effort to make something meaningful for them. You can search online for thousands and thousands of great videos teaching you everything from how to make miniature dollhouses to friendship bracelets to arm-knitted blankets. If you go with the dollhouse idea, content creator Donna will show you how to make clothing and houses for dolls by hand despite living with a disability. You can learn how to make all kinds of things whether you have experience or not, and your recipient will appreciate your thought and effort.
Give Experiences, Not Objects
People who receive experiential gifts–concert tickets, love coupons, a day at a museum or the zoo–feel more connected to the person giving them the gift. It is always a great idea to gift an experience that someone will be interested in such as baseball game tickets in NYC. Sociologist Allison Pugh has stated that “if gifts are about expressing and forging love, one for the best ways to do that is with your own time.” An example of experiences that you could give is to write out twelve fun activities on different pieces of paper or cards and place them in individual envelopes. The recipient can open an envelope each month of the year revealing things like going to a museum, baking a cake together, camping, having a beach day, etc. Memories of experiences will last much longer and mean more than objects.
When deciding what type of gift you want to make or purchase for someone you care about, just make sure you choose something you know they will appreciate. Any of the above ideas are sure to let your gift recipient know that he or she means a lot to you. Happy gifting!