Non-Traditional Gift Guide

It seems like this week we have been bombarded with AMAZING deals and flash sales and coupon codes. But, sometimes the best gifts can’t be purchased with Amazon Prime. Check out some of our ideas below if you are looking for something a little more unconventional.


This year we are trying something new and I’m so excited about it! Starting December 1st we are doing a “re-gifting 12 days of Christmas.” Each day we will pick out something we own that is in great shape but we don’t need/use/want anymore (or at least two of those three). The goal is to not just get rid of stuff but to find items for specific people who we know will love and appreciate them. Sending things to the thrift store feels so impersonal and I want my kids to FEEL something for the person getting the gift. I think it will help us sacrifice good things more freely.

For example, for Kristine’s son we’ve already decided to gift him several different Thomas and Friends toys, for Bethany’s boys we are planning on sending our k’nex roller coaster (shh, don’t tell), and we are trying to think through the perfect person to gift an electric guitar and amp to.

I’m not sure how this experiment will end up but I know it’s already been great for us to explore ideas of gifts without spending money. Especially for my kids who don’t have incomes, giving of toys is a way to gift generously of something they feel deeply about. And it also helps us stay focused for a few weeks on what we can give up, rather than what we are hoping to receive.


We are taking a pass on traditional Christmas Cards this year. (This pregnant lady doesn’t feel like taking family pictures, or addressing and mailing them all out before we head out of town.) But, I am still planning on delivering some handmade goodies to our friends. A quick Pinterest search will bring up dozens of free Christmas cards that you can print yourself or at a print shop. Combine a hand written note with a favorite treat and you have the perfect little (budget-friendly) gift.

Loving this card I found here.

My mom’s banana bread and coconut bread are two of my favorite treats to gift. (See this post for tips on making quick breads.) I like to use paper disposable loaf pans (like these). Another great gift-able treat is the easiest and yummiest fudge recipe. It is easy to customize with the mix-ins you like, but I would highly recommend raisins.

I’ve also been thinking this year about how I can better give the gift of my time, especially to my family. When my son wanted to watch a movie the other day I sat on the couch with him, instead of popping up to do the dishes, and had a great time introducing him to The Grinch. He will probably remember those few hours better than any of the toys I bought him on Black Friday.


Part of the advent calendar I’m making for Kristine

Of course all of my unconventional gift ideas (and most of the gifts I give) are handmade. Whether that be a baked good, crafted item, handmade by kids, or even some sort of “kit” for the receiver to make themselves. Handmade gifts do take time, but when you get one you can tell how much love went into it. In my opinion it’s way more than any traditional store bought gift.

One year for Christmas our dad gifted each girl a watercolor he painted himself. It takes patience to paint the same thing four times, but it’s something we will always cherish.

From personal experience I would recommend planning homemade gifts far in advance, but I’m not too good at that as I tend to do things spur of the moment. For this year I have a kid friendly advent calendar for Kristine almost complete. Something shes been requesting for awhile. For Kimberly, Bethany, Zachary’s sibling, and our parents I’m not too sure yet. Ideas include an ornament nativity like the one above and/or embroidered tea towels with a yummy treat. It’s best to keep it simple, especially when the list of handmade gifts keep adding up.

Last year I embroidered and sewed this fish pillow for Zach. It was his first summer in Stanley and he fell in love the with the mountains, river, and especially the interesting story behind sockeye salmon. This was the best I knew how to combine something “manly” like a fish with my very girly gift idea of a pillow. Finding gifts for Zach is very difficult and I was so proud I came up with something he thought was cool and I could do on a budget. It took about 10 hours which seems crazy now that I work a full time job, but I know we will keep and love it forever. Looking at it on the couch everyday reminds me of our first summer together in Stanley and how much fun we had. Now those are the best types of gifts!

2 thoughts on “Non-Traditional Gift Guide”

  1. The most popular neighborhood gift I’ve done was a package of cough drops. (Halls defense to be exact). With a card with some saying about Deck the Halls. Easy, affordable, and I’ve had many people comment on using them.

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