Forget the Wrapping Paper with These 3 Thoughtful Gift Ideas

December 19, 2019

In the year that Marie Kondo’s wildly popular decluttering philosophy hit screens, it’s no surprise that many have become wary of buying things that don’t “spark joy.” We all have those items that we keep on our shelves not because we love antique figurines, but because we love the person who gave us this gift. 

This year, consider skipping purchases that may be stashed away in a closet or collect dust on a mantle. 

Here are 3 thoughtful gift ideas that will have a lasting impact while avoiding unnecessary clutter. Plus, we’ve included a few bonus tips to help you better plan your purchases and avoid a holiday shopping hangover. 

Gift Idea #1: Travel

There are many ways to travel. Whether it’s an extended trip overseas or a weekend camping trip, many people enjoy shaking things up with a vacation. 

Since you won’t want to plan someone’s entire trip for them, consider a flexible gift that they can use on their next trip. For example, many accommodation booking sites offer a gift card option. Can you picture your friend in a charming Parisian apartment? Check out Airbnb. Is your loved one more likely to cozy up in a desert cabin? Take a look at Hipcamp

For those who like the idea of gifting plane tickets, here’s a secret: while airlines often charge a hefty sum for transferring miles to other accounts, you can avoid those fees. Instead of transferring miles to your friend or loved one’s account, offer to redeem your miles to buy a plane ticket for the recipient. Perhaps you have a close friend living across the country who hasn’t had the chance to visit you, or your sibling has always wanted to travel abroad. Maybe you can help them accomplish that dream!

By giving the gift of travel, you can ignite travel inspiration while making a dent in the recipient’s travel costs — all while giving them the flexibility to choose how and when they travel.

Gift Idea #2: Education

Whether you have children of your own or a family member who is going back to school, consider giving a gift that supports their education. 

For the young people in your life, you can set up or contribute to a 529 college savings plan. These plans can be used to pay for expenses associated with higher education and K-12 school tuition. The beauty of these plans is that they can grow federal tax-free and are not taxed when withdrawals are made for “qualified” educational expenses, like college tuition or room and board.     

For adult friends or family who are going back to school, consider supporting their educational pursuits. This can range from contributing to actual school costs — such as tuition and books — to lower-cost gifts that support a student’s lifestyle, such as: 

  • Free babysitting
  • Meal planning services, like Blue Apron
  • Coffee shop and bookstore gift cards

However you choose to support a friend or family member’s education, rest assured that this is a gift that will have a lasting impact.

Gift Idea #3: Peace of Mind

The older we get, the less we want to accumulate stuff. That’s why many seniors especially appreciate thoughtful, wrapper-free gifts that will grant them peace of mind. 

Safety and security are often top of mind for seniors and their families. There are many safety systems that you can set up for the senior in your life, including:

  • Smart doorbell cameras, which allow the user to see who is standing in front of their home before opening the door.
  • Medical alert devices, which will signal for help in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Anti-scald valves, which prevent scald burns caused by extremely hot water. 

Experiences that offer a creative outlet can also make great gifts. This can be especially true for loved ones with cognitive conditions like dementia or Alzheimers. Engaging with music can make people with such conditions less agitated and more engaged. Offer to spend some quality time watching a musical production or listening to music together. For those who struggle with mobility, online classes like those offered on Bluprint will teach the recipient to learn skills from embroidery to photography from the comfort of their homes.

How to get it all done

Juggling gift giving during the holiday season can be a challenge. Here are a few guidelines to help you reduce stress and overspending:

  • Set a budget. Review your earnings and expenses, and then decide how much you’re willing to spend on holiday gifts. 
  • Go online. Even if you plan on going to a brick-and-mortar store for your gift, start online. That way you can avoid impulse buys. 
  • Do your research. By comparing options in advance, you’ll be able to strike a balance between quality and price that matches your budget.

We can help you make it happen

If you’re unsure about how holiday gift giving fits into your overall financial plan, or you have yet to craft a complete financial plan, there’s never been a better time to figure it out! Relieve some holiday stress and set positive intentions for the new year by getting your finances in order.