Alternative present ideas for the gift-giving challenged

A guide to help you steer clear of the ordinary

Image by: Christian Smith

A sweater, socks, chocolate, a gift card. These are just some of the safe options for gift-giving this holiday season. 

Over the holidays there’s a lot of pressure to find the perfect gifts for the people we love. It’s a time we’re supposed to express how much they mean to us, which can be daunting if you can’t think of any ideas that fit who they are. 

Some go for expensive presents and some make their own crafts, but what will really make or break what’s under the tree is how well it fits their personality. Making someone feel special is a lot easier when the gift you’re giving is unique to them and sometimes, going that extra mile to make your present stand out means thinking outside the box of traditional gifts. 

If you’re in the mood to enter the danger zone of gift-giving this year, allow me to present some options. Try out one of the ideas below, or use them for inspiration to get you in the gift-giving mood. 

For the eccentric: The Mysterious Package Company

A gift from the Mysterious Package Company is guaranteed to create curiosity. The company’s premise is that you can purchase a mystery for the receiver to solve, entirely done through letters and a series of mysterious packages.

The gift is meant to be the excitement of becoming a pseudo Nancy Drew sleuth for a week or two. The experiences range from Cold War evidence of zombies, proof of time travel, the investigation of a giant sea monster, and a haunted diary. 

They come at several different price points, and do all the heavy lifting and organization for you. If you have a friend or family member who loves the eccentric and unexplainable, this gift could be the best one they ever get. 

For the bookworm: Litographs

This company prints the entire text — and a thematically-correct graphic design — of your favorite books onto t-shirts, tote bags, posters and scarves. If they won’t mind being stared at by other bibliophiles who try to read their shirt in public, this is the gift for a book lover you know!

For the romantic: Name a Star

Yes, it’s a cliché but naming a star can be the most ridiculously romantic gift imaginable and not as expensive as you would think. 

Name it for a special someone, or give them the registration information so they can choose the name themselves. 

On a side note, if you don’t have a significant other — or just want to leave your mark on the universe — there’s no limit on what the name can be, no matter how absurd. 

There are many packages online, but beware that this ‘name’ is only recorded in the records of the company you buy it from. No astronomer is going to refer to your star by “Julie” or “Donald Drumpf”. The International Star Registry is the only one officially recognized. Still, the gesture is a nice and inexpensive one. 

For the sentimentalist: Photos to paintings

Before photographs, people had paintings done of the people and things they loved. Now, you can have them both. 

You don’t have to be an artist to give a loved one a piece of art, you just have to know what they love most. An oil painting of a favorite person, place, or even a pet is a unique way to get sentimental, just be ready to fork over a couple hundred dollars.

There are plenty of websites out there for people who want to send their photos to be reproduced by artists as a painting, however Paint Your Life is a great tool to use to find an artist whose style is exactly what you’re looking for.   

For the person who has everything: Charitable gifts

Canada Helps and World Vision are just two organizations of many that will let you choose a gift within your price range and in the category that interests you. You can decide to give a monetary donation to the charity of your choice, or a specific item to people in need. Not only does this gift benefit others, but puts the holiday season and gift-giving into perspective.


gifts, guide, Holidays, Lifestyle

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