The holiday season is a time of giving. But if we aren’t careful, we can end up caught in the cycle of consumerism, buying stuff just for the sake of having something to give.
I love the feeling of surprising someone with a gift that is meaningful, heartfelt, or is something they will really get enjoyment from.
On the flip side, there is nothing more frustrating than endlessly trudging up and down the aisles of a store (or scrolling down pages on Amazon, if you’re like me and do most of your shopping online) desperately trying to come up with an idea for a gift. And then, if you end up buying something just because you’re out of time and you have to get something.…that is the WORST.
I’m also not one of those people who like to just buy items on someone’s list of “orders”. I prefer finding something on my own that I know they will appreciate, because I’ve spent time with them, know their likes/dislikes, and really listened to the things that make them happy.
And a lot of times, those things that really have a lasting impact on people are experiences or activities, not things.
If you’re struggling to find just the right thing to give someone on your list this year, I’m here to offer some suggestions of “non-stuff” alternatives that might give the recipient longer-lasting enjoyment without adding to the clutter of unwanted or unneeded items that wind up in a closet or drawer, unused.
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1. Tickets to a show, a sporting event, or concert
When you gift someone tickets to an event, you’re giving them a memory instead of a thing. Are they a sports fan? Tickets to a college game, or hometown team would probably be appreciated. Got a theater lover on your list? What about tickets to an off-Broadway musical or for a community playhouse production?
Some other possibilities:
- The ballet
- The orchestra
- A local comedy club
- A singer or band that’s coming to town in the next couple of months
- A rodeo
- A car show
- A home and garden exhibit
- A wine tasting event
2. A subscription box
Subscription boxes have been popular for the past couple of years. I love them because there are so many options that you are sure to find something that appeals to your intended recipient, and shows them that you are “dialed in” to their hobbies or interests. Also, because they are generally a consumable gift, they don’t add to the build-up of clutter and stuff.
Below are some of the subscription boxes that I have personal experience with, either having gifted them to someone else, or received them myself, but there are numerous other options available if you do a little research.
- Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Club I’ve written about our Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Club membership before. I’ve gifted it to a couple of different people now, as it’s so fun and unique. You can read my detailed post about it here.
- Hello Fresh Meal Kits I gave my son and his girlfriend a gift subscription to Hello Fresh last Christmas. They like to cook, but are college students on a budget. With the gift membership, they got to select the meals they wanted, and the delivery dates that were convenient for them. Then, all of the ingredients needed were delivered right to my son’s apartment! It was perfect because they got to have the experience of cooking together, while also eating a healthy meal that they might not otherwise have purchased on their college budget. For busy families, this would also be a great gift!
- Grill Masters BBQ Club Box The kids gave this to my husband for Christmas last year and he really enjoyed it. Each month, he received a box with various BBQ sauces and rubs, plus wood chips and recipes. He really had fun experimenting with it, and the rest of us got to enjoy the amazing things he grilled up. It was like a gift for the whole family! 😃
- Daily Harvest Smoothies I tried these myself over the summer, as I was looking for a healthy, quick meal option for summer days when I was home by myself. These come in several delicious flavor options, and are stored in your freezer until you are ready for one. Then, you just mix in the specified amount of liquid, blend, and pour it back in the cup. You can use my referral code to get $25 off your first box! Gift them to someone on your list, or yourself if you need healthy options to keep you going this winter!
There is a subscription box out there for just about anything you can imagine, so do a little research and you’re sure to find one that matches the interests of the people on your list.
Amazon Kindle Unlimited is a great option for the readers on your list. You can gift a 6, 12, or 24 month subscription that allows the recipient to:
- Enjoy unlimited access to over 1 million titles
- Browse this month’s popular magazines
- Listen to thousands of books with audible narration
- Read anytime, on any device with the Kindle app
My dad is retired and loves to read. He doesn’t get out as much as he used to, but has a tablet that he reads on regularly. I’ve gifted him a subscription to Kindle Unlimited in the past, because then he doesn’t have to try to make trips to the library or buy books and wait for them to arrive. Titles can be instantly downloaded, and he has access to literally millions of choices. Plus, he takes his tablet with him wherever he goes, and can read while he’s in the waiting room of an appointment.
Amazon Audible is the world’s largest seller and producer of audiobooks. If you or someone on your list prefers to listen to books, this is a great option. It’s also an excellent idea if you have older people on your list whose deteriorating eyesight might make it difficult for them to read print. You can sign up right now for a free 30-day trial.
✓ Free membership for 30 days with 1 audiobook + 2 Audible Originals.
✓ After trial, 3 titles each month: 1 audiobook + 2 Audible Originals.
✓ Exclusive audio-guided wellness programs.
4. Amazon Music
I have a subscription to Amazon Music myself, and I LOVE it! I used to have Apple Music, but when we built our house last year, we had a whole-house audio system installed, and it wasn’t compatible with Apple Music.😦
So, I tried out a couple of options such as Pandora and Spotify, but finally settled on Amazon Music and I’m so glad I did!
It works effortlessly with our HEOS Home Audio and allows me to stream music via wifi in any/all rooms of our house, the deck, or the screen porch!
It also works great through my car’s Car Play app, and allows me to stream Amazon Music as I drive. I don’t have to pay for a Sirius Radio subscription because I get double-duty from my Amazon Music and use it at home and in the car both.
I love that I can search for a particular song or artist, a genre, or even a pre-made playlist and it’s ready to go! Right now, I’m loving all the Christmas music playlists. I’ve been alternating between a Classic Christmas playlist and the Best of Pentatonix Holiday playlists lately.
It’s so much music, instantly accessible, and it’s only $9.99 per month. Even better, if you’re already a Prime member, it’s only $7.99 a month, which makes it less than most of the other monthly streaming subscriptions out there.
This is a great option for any music lovers on your gift list.
5. A gift certificate to a new or favorite restaurant
A gift card for dinner out is a great gift idea. When you give a gift card to a restaurant, you are not only giving the gift of a great meal, but also the gift of time, and relaxation. So many of us lead busy lives, that a restaurant gift card is like a “free pass” to take a night off of meal planning and cooking.
If you want to personalize the gift a bit more, select a restaurant that is one of your own favorites and include a little note telling your recipient why you love it. You could even include some menu selections that you think they might enjoy. Something like:
“You work so hard, and always give so much of your energy and time to others. Please enjoy a dinner out at ______________. It’s one of our favorites and we think you’ll love the quiet atmosphere and subdued ambiance. Consider ordering the black pepper-crusted salmon–it’s one of my personal favorites!”
Or select a new place that you know your gift recipient has been wanting to try, and make a note in the card that you heard them talking about it, and want them to try it as your treat. These little touches add a special element to the gift that lets the recipient know that you really put thought into selecting something for them.
6. A gift certificate for a massage, pedicure, or spa treatment
A gift card for a little pampering is always a great idea. Sometimes, this is something people can’t, or don’t want to, splurge on for themselves. Again, the gift seems more personal if you select a place you love yourself, or if you include a sweet note about wanting to gift them with some pampering or time for themselves.
If you have a shopper on your list, and they don’t already subscribe to Prime, this is a great gift option! It’s also a solid choice for someone who is busy and just doesn’t have time to run to the store for every little item they need, or go store-to-store to comparison shop. Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without Prime.
Another great aspect of Prime that I have recently discovered is Prime Wardrobe. This fall, when I was looking for mother-of-the-bride dresses for my daughter’s wedding, I tried it for the first time. And let me tell you, it won’t be the last!
With Prime Wardrobe, you can select up to 8 items, which are then shipped to you in one box. You have a week to try them all on and select what you want to keep, if anything. Returns are free, and there are no shipping fees. You are only billed for what you keep, as long as you send the rejects back by the end of the 7 days.
You guys, I love this! You can try items on in your own home, at your own convenience, rather than running store to store and into the dressing room. At home you can see them in various forms of lighting, you can try them with different pairs of shoes or jewelry. You have a whole week to decide, with no risk.
I really like Prime’s version of this, because there are other wardrobe services like this out there, but most require you to pay a “styling fee” or there’s a fee if you don’t at least keep one thing from the box. For some, the prices are different based on how many of the items in the box you keep. None of that applies to Prime Wardrobe–it’s very straightforward.
For my daughter’s wedding, I had at least 10 different dress options at one point, and I think maybe 6 for the rehearsal dinner. I finally decided on one for each event, popped the rest in the box, and dropped it at UPS. So easy. Such a time-saver, and a sanity saver.
So, gifting a Prime membership is worth it, just for the Wardrobe feature in my opinion!
Right now, you can even sign up for a free 30-day trial membership of Prime, if you want to give it a try yourself.
8. A magazine subscription
A magazine subscription is another gift idea that is consumable, and also shows that you know something personal about the recipient, such as their interests or hobbies.
Consider a magazine focused on:
- cooking or baking
- home decor
- home improvement
Did you know you can purchase magazine subscriptions directly from Amazon? You can even add subscriptions purchased elsewhere to your Amazon account! I love this, because I can keep all my subscriptions organized in one place, see exactly when they are due to expire, and renew or cancel them with one click of a button. Just visit Amazon’s Magazine Subscription Manager to see how to do it.
9. A gift card for an activity or class
A class or an activity where your recipient can learn something new, or create something original is always a great idea.
Again, think about what types of things they are interested in, or what types of things might they like to learn how to do? What about a photography class, a cooking class or an art class?
There are so many places anymore that offer “make & take” type activities. Not long ago, my daughter and I registered for a session at Board & Brush, where you make wood crafts that you can customize to your own taste and style. It was so much fun, and I’m hoping to do it again sometime! I would be thrilled if someone gave this to me as a gift!
Board & Brush specializes in woodcrafts, but there are many other types of venues that specialize in different things. In our area, these are a few that I know about:
- The Knotty Nail-– customizable string art
- Bottle & Bottega— painting classes
- Pinot’s Palette — wine and painting
- Glazed Expressions — pottery painting, candle/soap making, paint & sip, and wood decor
How fun would it be for you to gift one of these classes to a friend, and then both of you go together? Giving the gift of time spent together doing something fun would make this gift extra special.
10. A charitable donation in their name
Finally, if you have people on your list who insist that they “don’t want anything“, what about a donation to a charity that would be meaningful to them personally?
Include a card with a personal note explaining your donation, and you’ve got the perfect gift with long-last and far-reaching benefits. Plus you’ve honored that person’s request of not giving them “anything”, yet you’ve still accomplished what gift-giving should truly be about–honoring the relationship you have with the recipient through an offering that recognizes the importance of that relationship in your life.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got some suggestions for other gifts that aren’t “stuff”. This is my favorite type of gift to give and to receive. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. ❤️
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This post contains affiliate links.