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10 Unique Gift Ideas for Christmas

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Every Christmas I rack my brains to come up with unique and useful Christmas gifts for friends and family members. I try to put thought into the gifts I give and I want to give my loved ones something they will remember. Often, the best gifts aren’t the latest gadgets on the market – they are those that come from the heart or have special meaning to the recipient. Here are a few great gift ideas that you can use to give your loved ones the perfect gift this Christmas.

10 Unique Christmas Gift Ideas

1. Give an adventure. This year my wife and I went skydiving and went on a hot air balloon ride. These were fairly expensive adventures but they were also well worth the money! You can find similar experiences through Soaring Adventures. Other ideas include taking an outdoors trip like biking, hiking, boating, white water rafting, camping, rock climbing, etc.

2. Create a memory. Memories last longer than most presents you can put under a tree. Consider organizing a family reunion, giving tickets to a concert or sporting event, organizing a family trip, visiting a museum or aquarium, going to a national park, seeing monuments, or anything else your loved ones would enjoy and remember for years.

3. Give memories. Share the memories you have made with someone close to you or commemorate a special event in their life. You can make a collage of photos from their childhood, frame a picture you took on vacation, make a scrap book, create a personalized map with markers showing the locations you’ve been as a couple or as a family, and many other special gifts.

4. Give the gift of learning. Chances are you know many people who often say, “I wish I could fill in the blank...” That blank is usually something like, play piano or another instrument, speak a foreign language, dance, cook a gourmet meal, fly an airplane, or many other activities. Giving the gift of lessons gives your loved one the opportunity to fulfill their dream.

5. Hobby gift basket: Like the gift above, a hobby gift basket gives someone the tools to participate in their favorite hobby. Ideas include a sushi making set, cake decorating kit, sewing, knitting or quilting equipment, beer brewing kit (I’ve used the Mr. Beer home brewery kit; it makes good beer!), wine making equipment, recipe box with family recipes, photography accessories, and more.

6. Handmade gifts. This is a great gift for children to give because they are often full of creativity, but light on money. Ideas include painting a picture, writing a poem or book, coupon books (for things like chores), or other gifts children can easily make. Adults can make handmade gifts as well. Popular gifts include handmade quilts and blankets, knitted sweaters and scarves, pottery, woodworking, and more. Gift options are limited only by your imagination and abilities.

7. Personalized books and CD’s. You can order certain books and CD’s with a child’s name in it, making them part of the story or song. This is a unique way to get the child involved in the songs or story and make them feel special throughout the year.

8. Make the gift a treasure hunt. My wife told me about one of her family traditions when she was growing up. When her family gave gifts that were difficult to wrap, like a sled or bike, they would turn it into a treasure hunt by giving clues that guide the way to another clue, then another. Making a treasure hunt is more fun that just setting the gift next to the tree.

9. Give a book that has inspired you or changed your life. Almost everyone has read a book that made a lasting impression on them. Sharing that book with another person is a nice way to give them insight into what makes you tick. When you give this book, be sure to tell the person you are giving it to why the book means so much to you. You can even write it in the title page so they can look back on it later.

10. Give to someone you don’t know. There are many ways you can give gifts to people you don’t know. You can adopt a family, answer letters to Santa Claus, drop off gifts for Toys for Tots, volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, visit a nursing home or children’s hospital, give to military members through the USO, and much more. Here are more great gift ideas.

Your gift ideas are limited only by the imagination. Instead of giving your family the latest and greatest gizmo that will only end up in a closet by this time next year, give them something they can use and cherish. They will enjoy it more and remember it longer. Merry Christmas!

Special thanks to my wife for helping me come up with some of these ideas. :)


Published or updated November 8, 2010.
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andy @ Retire at 40

I think giving experiences is a really good thing. Giving out material possessions just hasn’t been good for me for years, either to receive or give, so I think something a bit different goes a long way.

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2 Kristen

My grandparents are always the hardest people to buy for. We lucked out this year. We just got our wedding photos in, so we can frame photos of us with our grandparents from the wedding for gifts.

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3 Ryan

Andy: I agree. I have almost everything I need; the rest is just “wants,” or “would be nice to haves.”

Kristen: That’s exactly what I gave my Grandparents after my wife and I were married. :-)

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4 Craig

Great ideas, not just for the holidays, but for any occasion. The reason I agree is because presents are usually tangible, can cause clutter, may not always be wanted or needed. If you can create an experience, it’s something you can have forever. For example a trip. If you go on a trip somewhere, you will always have the memories and pictures from it. More valuable than a sweater.

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5 Sarah F.

Great list of ideas! I’m using several of these this year. I’m framing pictures of my niece for my sister in law, giving a copy of a book that I love to my father in law, and I donated some children’s clothes to the Salvation Army this year. Also, I’m in the process of finishing a quilt for said niece’s birthday in January.

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6 David

I especially like #10 – Since we can basically afford whatever we want and get things when we do want them, it’s easy to forget that so many cannot. Even a small gesture goes a long way to helping someone else have a great holiday.

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7 RC@Thinkyourwaytowealth

Nice list, Ryan. I like the treasure hunt idea- I may have to try it on my kids when they get a little older-so they can read the “clues”!

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8 Ryan

Thanks, RC. And I’ll let my wife know – that was a tradition in her family! :-)

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9 Curious Cat Investing Blog

Give tech support to your parents :-) You can use a product like co-pilot to easily connect to your parents computer and fix whatever they broke :-) And if you do it on weekends it is free. http://management.curiouscatblog.net/2008/01/28/giving-away-your-service-for-free-on-weekends/

You can also buy tech support from someone local to your parents or someone that uses copilot or something similar to connect to their machine remotely.

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10 Dan the Music Master

Handmade gifts are always a treat, especially when received from loved ones. Happy holidays to all.

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