It’s that time of the year again: winter holidays. In many cultures and places around the world, the holiday season is a symbol of joy, love and hope. People seem to be a bit kinder this time of year. We think more about others. And we express our love and appreciation by buying gifts to the important people in our lives.
I think that this tradition of exchanging gifts is a great one. But, at the same time, I think we’re not doing it the right way. We often struggle to find the perfect gifts and this puts a lot of pressure on us. And if we can’t find that perfect gift, we often buy something else that the recipient may or may not need.
Unfortunately, we are also very wasteful around this time of year. We buy people things they probably don’t need or like – because we have to buy them something! And if you are one of the people that also tries to reduce the negative impact you have on the planet, then the “gift hunting” is even trickier.
But I’m here to try to help you out! I think that you can give people great gifts that are useful or not materialistic at all. Here’s a short list of gift ideas I really love. And the best part is that you can get some of them even at the last moment!
Gift Idea #1: Give useful gifts
If you want to buy someone a great and useful gift, ask them what they need! This way, you can buy something for them that they would have bought themselves. The chances that they will like and use your gift are much higher this way. Maybe someone needs gym clothes, hiking equipment, a new device and so on.
Ask them to make a list of things they need and then pick something that is in your price range and that they will like.
I know that the ides of useful gifts may seem a bit less cool and exciting. But I think it’s just the opposite. Asking someone what they want to get them something they will like shows that you care about them. To me, this shows more love than buying them another Christmas decoration that will end up in a box or the 37th pair of gloves!
You can give someone a great gift by thinking about what they need.
Gift Idea #2: Give meaningful gifts
Another great way to make sure you give great gifts is to think about what matters to them. What are their interests or passion? What field do they work in? What do they talk about most of the time?
Think about what they really care about and then try to buy a gift related to that. For example, if someone cares most about their family, you can give them a photo album with pictures of everyone in the family. If you have a friend who loves to workout, buy them a protein shaker or some protein bars. If you have a colleague who loves to hike, buy them a good backpack or hiking shoes.
One you identify what they care about, it’s quite easy to find many ideas for great gifts. If you don’t know much about their interest or field, do some research. Read a few articles about this or reach out to someone who shares their interest and ask for advice.
You can give someone a great gift by thinking about their passions, interests and hobbies.
Gift Idea #3: Give the gift on experience
Good gifts are not always materialistic. Actually, the most memorable gifts are perhaps shared experiences. How can you give someone an experience as a Christmas gift? Pay for it! You can buy tickets for the cinema, for a theatre play, for a concert and so on. Some companies even prepare for this time of year and they have special vouchers that are great as Christmas gifts.
As with other gifts, try to choose something that the recipient will like. Do they have a favourite band? Have they always said they would like to dress up and go to the theatre? Is there a marketing event they would like to attend? Do they love going to the movies?
Try to pick an experience or event that you know they will like. You can buy two tickets and go together or let them go with their partner. This type of gift will make someone happy especially if you buy them tickets to an event they would normally not afford. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but maybe even $20-30 is a lot for them if they are living on a budget or saving for something.
You can give someone a great gift by giving them the opportunity to go to an event you know they will love.
Gift Idea #4: Give the gift of knowledge
This is definitely one of my favourite gift ideas: books! I think that when you give someone a (good) book, you give them the opportunity to learn more about themselves and the world. You give them the chance to improve their skills and increase their awareness. You give them the gift of knowledge and the chance to better themselves.
For me, a book is never just a book. Whatever type it is, a book is a chance to relax, forget about your worries and get lost in a fantasy world or connect with the real world more. Yes, it’s true, I am a book lover and I rarely let more than a few days go by without reading at least a few pages. But I think anyone can enjoy a good book.
How can you pick a book someone will love? Again, try to think about what they are interested in. Do you have a friend who wants to become a social media expert? Buy them a book on marketing! Do they study psychology? Get them a book about that! You can find many book reviews online to pick one that people loved.
Also, a book can be a classic (printed book), an ebook or an audiobook. Pick the type that they already prefer. I honestly love physical books, especially since you can wrap them and put them under the tree. But different people have different tastes.
If you have no idea what book to get someone, let me give you a few recommendations!
For the woman who aims to improve herself and become successful: #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso or Girlcode by Cara Alwill Leyba
For the person who reads the news and wants to understand where our world is headed: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
For the creative person: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
For the friend who wants to be an entrepreneur: Zero to One by Peter Thiel
For the overachiever who struggles to do more: The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
For the people who wants to understand themselves or are passionate about psychology: Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Flourish by Martin Seligman
For the person who believes in law of attraction and manifestation: The Master Key System by Charles F Haanel
For the one interested in astronomy and the ways the Universe works: Cosmos by Carl Sagan
For the person who is concerned about the impact social media has on society: Hooked by Nir Eyal, You are not a gadget by Jaron Lanier, 10 Reasons to delete your social media accounts by Jaron Lanier (I did not read this one yet, but I am almost certain it is insightful)
For the person interested in politics: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, Optimism over Despair by Noam Chomsky or any book on this topics by Noam Chomsky
For the person who likes novels: Lion by Saroo Brierley
And that’s about it. There are many great books out there and you can find reviews on them on Amazon or other websites. If I had to recommend just one book, that would probably be 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari. It is an interesting book that covers different important topics. You can read my full review here.
You can give someone a great gift by giving them the gift of knowledge through a great book.
Gift Idea #5: Give the gift of contribution
This gift is perfect for the people that care about their community or the planet. It’s great for the givers who don’t like to receive materialistic gifts for themselves and who are happy to make sacrifices for the greater good. Instead of buying them something, you can make a contribution on their behalf.
There are many organizations that let you make online donation and give you a certificate that you can print out and give to your loved one. There are many types of organizations and the price range varies, so you may want to do a bit of research.
As with other gifts, try to think about what your loved one would prefer. Are they passionate about people and care about the ones in need? Then you can donate to a shelter, an orphanage or an NGO that helps families in need. Do they care more about the environment and protecting endangered species? In this case, opt for donations to organizations that care for and protect animals, animal shelters or work on reforestation. There are some great options out there and some organizations let you “adopt” an animal. This means that your money will go to support that particular animal and you may even receive updates about them!
Again, you can do a bit of research, but it shouldn’t be hard to find something they will like! Here are a few recommendations.
International Animal Rescue lets you adopt an orangutan, a sloth bear or a slow lorris.
WWF lets you adopt animals from a wide range of species. They may also have a regional website so you can adopt an animal from your country.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust lets you donate for or adopt an elephant or a rhino.
Save the Orangutan lets you adopt an orangutan, help replant the rainforest or donate so they can prevent orangutans from becoming extinct.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International lets you donate to or adopt a gorilla so they can help them survive in their habitat.
These are only a few organizations I looked into. But there are many organizations who let you make a contribution online in just a few minutes. I would recommend donating for a cause your loved one cares about and preferably for a local or national organization. Then print out the certificate they sent you or create one yourself and print it. I think many people would like to know that you made a contribution to a better world on their behalf!
You can give someone a great gift by making a contribution to an organization that works for a good cause!
Gift Idea #6: Give the gift of great memories
This last gift idea is a bit more materialistic, but I love it. You can give someone a Polaroid camera. If you don’t know what is, a polaroid camera lets you take small photos that are instantly printed out. I have one and I love using it! You can find one on Amazon or on many websites that sell electronic devices.
The reason why I recommend a polaroid camera is because it’s more than a camera – it allows you to take pictures and make your memories permanent. I use it when I travel or on special occasions. But if you use this camera to take many great pictures, even a normal Sunday afternoon at home can be made memorable.
The pictures it makes are small, but lovely! You can also display them on a board in your room to remind you of special occasions or happy moments. Plus, our world is becoming increasingly digital and having a printed photo seems a bit more special than having 50 photos on your cell phone. And this is why I recommend buying someone a polaroid camera – it gives them a way to make some moments last forever. If they are interested in photography, they will probably love this gift.
You can give someone a great gift by giving them the chance to make memories last forever!
These would be my Christmas gift recommendations. If you are still looking for presents for your friends or family, I hope you found this article useful. I know that most of you probably did the Christmas shopping sooner, but you can keep these ideas in mind for the next holidays or for birthdays. I wasn’t planning on writing this article (this is why I am sharing it so late), but as I was looking for interesting ideas that are meaningful and less materialistic, I found these great ideas and I wanted to share them with you. Let me know if you found them useful. If you found other great ideas for amazing gifts, please share them in a comment below.
I want to also wish you a Merry Christmas with your loved ones. Keep in mind that this holiday is not just about gifts, it’s about being together and showing those around you that you love and appreciate them. Happy Holidays!
Some of the organizations I mentioned were recommended by Kate from Travel for Difference and Jannie from Discoveries of a Dane. Thank you both! If you are curious about them, click on the links to visit their blogs.