One thing we don’t talk about often enough is that Christmas is a time of remembrance, a chance to share and create your own new memories and traditions. In a world where the holidays seem to be the only chance to truly make time for the people you care about, it seems more important than ever to uphold this sense of togetherness.
One of the ways you can celebrate the people you love is by giving them a meaningful gift that commemorates your relationship. Here are some ideas for memorable gifts that I’ve given, received, or heard about throughout the years.
(1) When we graduated from high school, one of my friends gave each of the girls in our group a picture commemorating a vacation we had taken together the summer before our senior year of high school. She personalized them with inside jokes and funny memories she shared with each of us using a Sharpie and a wooden frame. It was so simple, yet so special, and I still have it to this day.
(2) One of my favorite Internet trends is seeing all the people re-creating old childhood photos as a way of marking a special occasion. Getting a family portrait done at Christmas is one way of sharing memories with family and friends, but I happen to think that adding your own humorous flair makes the idea even more special. (Check out this site for some inspiration.)
(3) Can’t decide on just one photo? Commemorate a special event, trip or person by putting together a mini-scrapbook as a gift, or create your own professional-looking photo book using a service like Blurb or Shutterfly. I did this for my sister for her birthday a couple of years ago and it’s still one of my favorite gifts I’ve ever given.
(4) The only thing that a bookworm loves more than books is books about books, which is why I created a personalized reading journal for a friend of mine one year for Christmas. A big part of our friendship consisted of raiding each other’s bookshelves, talking about what we’ve read, and looking for what titles to pick up next. Using a blank notebook I created lists of virtually every category I thought would be of interest and included quotations from some of his favorite novels. Plus, there was still lots of space left over for his own thoughts, doodles and notes. I ended up liking it so much I wish someone had made one for me!
(5) If bacon is more your thing than books, consider taking the book list idea and fill a notebook with favorite recipes, or lists or favorite wines or restaurants or try. I’ve carried a recipe binder for twelve years now filled with the food my family and friends love. Some of the recipes from there have made their way to other people’s recipe binders, too. Don’t limit yourself to just a binder either- recipe cards, notebooks, duo-tangs or even your own self-published version could all work.
(6) All that work it takes to create a book can be daunting to some people. A time capsule is a great way of sharing memories that cuts down on the time and effort put into designing a book. For example, if there’s been a new addition to your family this year, get each of your relatives to write a letter to be opened at a later date to commemorate baby’s first Christmas. Some families turn this into a yearly tradition by gifting children their own dated ornaments, or instead create a ritual like buying seasonal pajamas each year to be open and worn on Christmas Eve.
(7) Put your kids to work by getting them working on their own Christmas projects for family and friends. My co-worker’s daughter painted portraits on canvas for all of the friends of the family one year; the portrait she painted of our other co-worker and the beautiful message she included with it brought me to tears. She also made me this awesome re-creation of my dog, Gemma, using Perler beads. (I love how she kind of looks like the Pink Power Ranger.)
(8) Can’t turn your kids into a Christmas craft-making factory? Make your life easier by re-purposing their artwork to make unique gifts for family and friends. Spoonflower is a great tool to turn your kids drawings into fabric, wallpaper or gift wrap, and sites like Society6, Café Press and Zazzle allow you to upload any image and print it onto apparel and accessories like iPhone cases, beach towels and tote bags. (And more! Honestly, none of these sites paid me to say that.)
(9) You don’t really have to feel guilty about re-gifting something you know that someone else has been coveting. One of my best book buddies unloaded a huge stack of books on me one Christmas because she knew how badly I wanted to catch up on the series we were both reading. Sure, I know it was something she already had but the fact that she wanted to pass them on to me so I could enjoy them as well was worth way more than the money she could have spent. Just throw in a gift card to your favorite local coffee shop and you’ve set the recipient up for a lovely afternoon.
(10) At the end of the day I think one of the nicest gifts you can give is your time. When I look back at my holiday memories, I remember the experiences more than anything-going skating with my friends, my Uncle taking my sister and I to The Nutcracker ballet, dancing around the Christmas tree with my fellow members of Toronto’s Swedish community. If you really want to do something memorable as a gift this holiday season, do something together. I guarantee it will be more meaningful than anything that can be bought in a store.
Holiday celebrations can be fun, but only if you can ensure that things go smoothly. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to social gatherings, there are still plenty of ways to get your holiday game on. Click here to read more of them, or click here or here to read about some of the other best practices I’ve been trying to put into my place in my life.