Do Something Different this Year with our Holiday Gift Guide

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Last updated on November 17, 2020 Comments: 13

Finding the right gift for the people on your list is no doubt challenging–it needs to be unique and something that this person will use. After all, what’s the point of spending money on items that will find its way into the trash bin or donation pile?

Instead of spending hours looking for the perfect gifts, keep scrolling down to look at our gift guide which is full of alternative ideas that will help your recipients feel truly loved this season.

Charitable Giving

If your loved ones are minimalists or they’re hard to buy for, you can gift your loved ones with charitable giving. When doing so, think about their values and causes they want to support. Figure out where they would prefer the money to go, and send the donation there.

Donate to a Charity in Someone Else’s Name

If you want to choose the charity for the recipient, consider some of the following charities, which offer gift cards you can give as a present, as well as some unique tangible items:

  • Oceana lets you to adopt sea creatures on behalf of recipient. Various spending levels offer different gifts–it’s a fun way to still have something tangible for the recipient to open.
  • Kiva loans money in the form of microloans to small business owners (mostly in developing countries). Money will then be returned and you can make a loan all over again–you also have the option to donate money to operating costs. Give a gift card and your loved one can use your finds to make donations over and over again.
  • TisBest lets you design a charity gift card and your recipient the chance to follow their passion.
  • Charity Choice offers access to more than 1,000 charities (including local ones) so your recipient can make a difference in the lives of those who live nearby.
  • Alternative Gifts International lets your recipient use a gift card to “shop” for a cause or charity that resonates with them.
  • American Forests lets you plant a tree in the name of your recipient. A certificate is printed out and the recipient will receive a one-year subscription to American Forests magazine.
  • Oxfam America provides necessities for those in developing communities. The cards you give can be a humorous way to let someone know you’ve made a meaningful donation in their name.

Items That Provide a Percentage to Charity

Many organizations have items where a percentage of your purchase goes towards charity. It’s a win-win: your loved one gets a thoughtful gift, and the charity gets funds towards their organization.

  • Heifer International donates livestock to people in developing countries. Shop their marketplace for unique gifts like handmade bags to spice sets.
  • Sierra Club offers a wide variety of merchandise in its store, including calendars and children’s activity sets.
  • UNICEF offers holiday greeting cards, unique gifts, and corporate partner gifts where a portion of your purchase can support the charity.
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation has popular branded gifts such as bags, umbrellas and even golf balls.

Invest In Their Future

Instead of gifting money, why not put it towards something that can help your recipient for years to come?

  • Stockpile: You can buy gifts of stock (even for minors) and your recipient can choose from companies like Nike, Snapchat and more.
  • Acorns: This is an investment app that lets you gift money to someone else’s account.
  • 529 College Savings Plan: Did your recipient open a college savings account for their child? You can purchase a gift card at Gift of College and the funds will count as a gift towards this account.
  • Money board games: Games such as Million Dollar Challenge and Cash Flow 101 can provide a source of entertainment for your family while learning about investing at the same time.

Clutter-Free Gifts

Consumables and experiences can be a great way to show you care and are a great choice for those who hate cluttering up their home with items.

Food and Drink

Here are some great ideas for the gourmands in your life.

  • AeroGarden kits: Your recipient can grow herbs and other small kitchen foods right in their home. There are many sizes to choose from.
  • Food club memberships: From cheese to wine to coffee to breakfast foods, you can find monthly club memberships that keep giving throughout the year. Examples include coffee club, BBQ sauce club and even dessert club.
  • Private cooking classes: Companies like The Chef and The Dish offer private cooking classes via Skype.
  • Food gift baskets: Food baskets offer a variety of items, everywhere from fruit, chocolate, wine, cheese and meat.
  • Meal prep kits: Companies like Blue Apron, Purple Carrot and Hello Fresh offer great ways for people to try out new recipes without the need to head to a supermarket. Consider diverting your membership for a week or two to treat your loved ones.
  • Wholesale warehouse membership: Though not 100% food related, providing a Costco or Thrive Market membership gives them the option to save money on grocery items throughout the year.

Spoil Someone

You don’t need to buy a tangible item to show your loved ones you card. Even if you’re after budget-friendly options, consider some of these choices:

  • Spa days: Consider inviting the recipient to your home and offer facials, manicures or manicures. Simply purchase items from the drugstore or a spa kit like this one. You can also consider getting a certificate to a national chain like Massage Envy or check out Spa Wish for a list of local experiences for the recipient.
  • Bath products: Consider all-natural bath products. These can be great ways to help others enjoy their time. Scented soaps and bath bombs can really make someone’s day. You can find bath bombs at websites like Lush, supporting independent makers through Etsy or even get recipes for making homemade soaps and make them yourself.
  • Outsource a task: One of the best ways to show someone you care is to buy them more time. Get the recipient a cleaning or laundry service (search for one on Merry Maids). Pay for a babysitter (find one through so the recipients can go out on a date.

Homemade With Love

Homemade gifts are a great way to show someone you care without breaking the bank.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Gifts in a jar: Recipes like chicken noodle soup or gourmet hot chocolate mixes can be a lot of fun to put together–and fun for the recipient to make. Taste of Home offers 30 great recipes, along with ideas for dressing them up to make a pretty presentation. Redbook also has a list of 35 Mason jar gift ideas you can try out.
  • Embellished notecards: Create a pack of unique, embellished notecards for your loved ones. They’ll appreciate the unique look, and you might be surprised at how easy it is for you to make DIY cards that pop.
  • Homemade preserved food: Are you known for your salsa recipe? Maybe people love your freezer jam. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out a new recipe first and make another batch as a gift.
  • Handmade scarves: If you’re a crafter, consider crocheting, knitting a scarf or making hats. This is a chance to give away something beautiful, warm and heartfelt.
  • Buy a digital photo frame and upload a bunch of great pictures: While not totally homemade, it does give you a chance to personalize a gift.
  • Free services: You can provide homemade certificates offering services like editing papers, tailoring clothes or even teaching them how to make scented candles.

Article comments

AndrewSmora says:

Moving mo = ‘modus operandi’ of expression. Keep it up!

Anonymous says:

Hi there – just wanted to add another option to your list. At you’ll find many gift giving options, including our new biodegradable gift card. We’ve got over 400 grassroots projects around the world that givers or card recipients can choose to support.
Give away!
Donna @ GG

Anonymous says:

Giving to someone’s favorite charity in their name can be a much nicer gift than yet another sweater or tie. But please – make sure it is a charity that the recipient supports. Don’t just give to your favorite charity and put someone’s elses name on it. Or give to the charity, but don’t pretend it is a gift.

Sasha says:

Sunshine – you’re right; I knew I’d seen a shopping service or two which allows you to donate to charity with all your purchases, but didn’t recall this until you mentioned it. Perhaps I’ll post an addendum, since it’s such a great option.

Sasha says:

10K Portfolio – thanks! I’m so glad to hear the article was inspirational for you.

Stephanie – I appreciate the link and will definitely check it out. Sounds like a good way to personalize a gift while helping a cause.

Sasha says:

Mrs. Micah,

I share your “thing for llamas”. In fact, I was debating whether to add yet another image to the post, but the llama’s adorability tipped the scales in its favor. I may have to add one to my holiday wish list.

Anonymous says:

I started promoting Holiday for Charity in 2002. The idea is for you to tell anyone who would give you a gift to make a donation to the charity of their choice in your name. They get to give money to their charity, take the tax write-off and you don’t get another tie you won’t wear. You’ll find more information about this and other charitable giving ideas for the holidays at

Anonymous says:

I have a thing for llamas, so one of my friends bought a llama for me through either Heifer or World Vision for my wedding present. It was happy. 🙂

Anonymous says:

Just another thought – I totally agree with the nonprofit hounding you after someone makes a donation, which is why we at offer Charity Gift Cards where the recipient of the gift chooses the charity, not the sender. That way your name stays confidential and you, as the recipient, have more power over who gets the donation!

Anonymous says:

#4 – use Goodsearch’s “Goodshop” to do your online shopping. You click one of their links, a % of your spendings goes to the charity of your choice. So far I’ve found most of the biggies are there, although there appears to be a glitch in that the logos don’t always show up and you have to fish around. But it’s new, I’m hoping they straighten that out.

Anonymous says:

There’s a company in Vancouver called “mondonation” that sells customizable t-shirts and pillowcases, and donates a percentage of the purchase to a charity of your choosing. I have two of their shirts (birthday presents) that I absolutely adore, because the shirts themselves have messages that are special to me, and I know a portion of the money spent on them went to charities that mean something to the people who gave them to me.

Anonymous says:

Only trouble with this is that you as the giver will be hounded for years and years after giving one of these gifts. Calls, letters, etc. The charity that we donated to for my Brother-In-Law has spent that money and more trying to get more money. Research your charity carefully, or give anonymously in the person’s name, if you can.

Anonymous says:

My aunt actually started donating to charity in all of our names a few years back. It is a great gift since all of my family is at least middle class we really cannot afford to purchase anything that is of great value to each other. Why not give to charity instead and enjoy giving again?