Select a meaningful holiday gift

Photo and graphic by Olga Zarytska, Lauritta/

The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time to start thinking about what to get your spouse or loved ones.

If you’re like me, you have that one family member who is simply impossible to buy for. Does “I don’t need anything this year, just you” sound familiar?

One thing I’ve always been good at, if I may brag a bit, is selecting gifts for friends and family — even for people like my father who seem to have everything. If you haven’t purchased any holiday gifts or are totally at a loss as to what to get for your significant other or loved ones, I’d like to share some personal tips as well as ideas from others on how to select that perfect and meaningful present.

Know your audience

More often than not, we select a gift for others based on what we would want rather than what they would want. Take a step back and really think about the person. Have they already mentioned something they would want? If not, the next thing to do is to think about that person — what are their interests, hobbies, etc.

What are their interests? What do they enjoy?

Although it seems logical, we don’t always consider the hobbies of our loved ones. Does your spouse like to fix things? Maybe there’s a tool they’ve wanted for a while or they need a new tool chest.

Have they mentioned something they might be interested in starting, such as fishing or scrapbooking? A subscription to magazines or even a beginner book on the subject could help. For example, when my sister was learning how to knit, I bought her a how-to book as well as a few different kinds of yarn.

This gave her an opportunity to learn more about the various styles of knitting, the fabric and how to design new items.

Give them an experience

The actual gift doesn’t always have to be tangible. “If they have tons of stuff then try to do an experience — a pass to the zoo, a sports game, etc.,” suggested Katie Reynolds from Miesenbach.

Do they like music? Maybe their favorite musician or band has a concert or event coming up they might enjoy. Do they like art or history? Buy them tickets to a museum they’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t had a chance. Do they love watching sports? Instead of getting them a jersey or another  element of sports paraphernalia, maybe think about a subscription to a magazine or sport network, such as NFL Ticket. You could also consider sending them on a scavenger hunt for their gift. The search for the gift can add to the adventure and make the experience memorable.

Sometimes simple is the best option

Thanks to websites like Pinterest and Etsy, you are all but sure to find simple answers to your dilemma. Do your in-laws have a favorite vacation destination or location they love to visit?

Think about framing a picture or drawing of some of these places. What about a formal family picture? No need to break the bank on this one either.

Ask a friend to help with pictures, upload the picture to a user-friendly website like Shutterfly to edit photos, make canvas prints or create a picture album. It’s a heartfelt gift that never goes out of style.

Do it yourself

The holidays can get a bit busy so this may not be a great option, but if you have the time and resources, sometimes the most meaningful gifts are the ones we make ourselves.

Referring back to Pinterest, there are boards for everything and anything you can think of with regards to DIY gifts.

From creating a family scrapbook, mounting pictures in a frame or even creating a cookbook of all your family recipes as a keepsake, help is there for you! Additionally, you can also find some great ideas if you can’t think of any yourself.

Home is where the military sends us

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? One of the things my husband and I do is send trinkets from each new location we live. Karlie Gaspard from Birkenfeld agreed, explaining that since she’s been living in Germany, her and her husband have been sending German-themed gifts to family and friends.

Of course, if you’ve been in Germany for more than a year you may have already thought of this, but you should also consider gifts from the places you visit while you’re living overseas. If you’re planning a vacation soon or are about to go on one, think about things that your family or loved ones might enjoy that you can only get in those destinations.

Consider gift cards

I shudder at the thought of this because I’ve always thought of gift cards as impersonal, but sometimes they can be very thoughtful.

“Last year we got my parents a Home Depot gift card because they needed to get work done on the house,” explained Brooke Sands from Bann.

Does that special someone really need a break? A gift card or certificate for a massage or spa day would be appropriate. What if you know a store the person likes to shop at but you aren’t quite sure what to get them? This is when a gift card would be appropriate.

Use the internet

There are a variety of great websites that can help with selecting a gift. One of my go-to sites is

This site not only has awesome gift suggestions, but you are also likely to find some of the most unique presents you’ve ever seen. Another site is

When you visit this site, you’ll be prompted to answer a few questions based on the personality of the person you’re shopping for.

Do the short quiz and peruse their suggestions. If all else fails, check to see if they’ve made an Amazon Wish List.

Simply go to and search for their name or email under the Wish List section.