Holidays, and especially holiday gift giving, can be extremely taxing.

But this year why not take a step back and create something special?

Save the physically draining desperate crawl around the mall.

Pour a  glass of wine or a mug of cocoa and spend a bit more mental energy dreaming up something unique.

You might find it doesn’t take a lot more time, and it definitely won’t cost more.

Plus I always find I get more joy in giving (and getting) creative gifts.

Here are some ideas:

5 Creative Gift Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

1. Write a Special Letter.
Think about what you love and admire about someone and put it down in writing.

Not to be too morbid, but think about what you would say about them if they were gone and write it now to share with them while they can really appreciate it.

If long prose isn’t your thing, you can make a bullet point list.

Here are some thought starters. For Christmas, “25 Reasons you Brighten My Life”. For Hannukah, “8 Things I Love Most About You”.

You can do this on the computer, choose a pretty font and print it out and deliver it in a frame.

Of all gifts I’ve given my mother for Mother’s Day, she speaks most highly of the letter I sent her last year outlining how much I admired and appreciated her.

2. Give a Jump Start on a Healthy New Year
You’ve probably heard your loved ones talk about how they’d love to get in better shape.

But the first step is the hardest. Help them on their way.

Make sure it’s associated with fun and learning something new so it doesn’t do any damage to their self esteem (e.g. I’d stay away from offering a Weight Watcher’s membership and instead focus on something active that you can do together).

Some ideas:

• A certificate for a tennis lesson taped to a can of balls with a big bow.
• A new yoga mat with a schedule and check for the first lesson.
• An colorful print scarf with a certificate to try a Zumba dance class.

3. A Book Club Just for Two
Give a book you’ve been dying to read along with an invitation to drinks/coffee to discuss it. Set a time and place (about 5 weeks out in your favorite coffee shop, wine bar etc). You can also include a list of questions with the book as thought starters.

This is a great gift for long-distance friends as well. You can set a time to talk or Skype about the book.

Also great for teenagers in your life. Send one of your favorites from when you were young.

This works as a great grandchild to grandparent gift as well.

4. Bath Time Fun
It’s hard to know what to get for friends who have little ones, particularly if its not their first child, they usually have the big stuff already (e.g. strollers, high chairs).

But one thing people always need more of is bath toys.

This is because kids take lots of bath, the toys get a bit water logged and gross and kids always like new things for the bath.

Buy a few inexpensive and colorful washcloths and wrap them with a half inexpensive bath toys.

Think creatively.

Lots of kitchen stuff works great in the tub too as long as it’s plastic (ex. Measuring spoons and cups, basters, sieves etc.).

5. Scavenger Hunt
We all know most of the fun of getting gifts is unwrapping them.

And for kids (young and old) the fun is amplified when they have to find the gifts as well.

Take inexpensive toys (ex. hair ribbons, candy, picture books, playing cards, dreidels, gum. stickers etc.) and wrap them each individually.

Then create clues and hide them around the house.

Give the kids flashlights so they feel like real explorers.

For older kids, write out clues in the form of riddles.

For younger ones draw “treasure” maps. You can also hide little toys in plastic Easter eggs if you have any left over. In our house, we don’t celebrate Easter, so we call these “dinosaur eggs”.

I guarantee these little gifts will mean more than the big ones because of the experience around them. Also a great thing to do if you have a snowy vacation day with bored house-bound kids.

A little creativity can go a long way during the holidays.

What’s your twist? What are your tried and true creative gift ideas?

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


  1. Or try these:

    I’ve taken the awful, comically misspelled subject lines from porno spam and put them on badges. 50% of my profit on these goes to

    I love the idea of turning spam into cash for a great cause.

    They buttons look cool and are under $5.

    Julie, sorry, I think I’ve just spammed your comment section….

  2. Sorry about the plug, but I’ve spent all year creating a twitter feed called “twipple” it was the first random acts of kindness meets twitter concept:

    There are dozens of free, fun, kind ideas that you are welcome to try out.

    Plug over.

    Thank you 🙂


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