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5 Meaningful Gift Ideas That Are Better Than Things!

5 Meaningful Gift Ideas That Are Better Than Things!

5 Meaningful Gift Ideas

(That Are More Than Just Things)

'Tis the season to blow all your money on overpriced stuff for people who don't need it! To spend your lunch break whipping around the stores like a maniac. To dedicate your evenings to cursing paper cuts and picking up scraps of ribbon that wouldn't curl, all in the name of love.

Of course you want to show your friends and family you care, but isn't there another way?

Coming up with unique and meaningful gift ideas may sound harder than filling up your Amazon basket, but it doesn't have to be! Here are five of our faves:

1.Plan a trip

Planning a trip with someone is an awesome gift (that no one will want to exchange for store credit!)

It can be anything you want it to be: road trip, staycation, city break, full on fortnight sun-sand-sea extravaganza...

Packaging Ideas: If it's a surprise, get inventive!

You could make an old-school "This voucher entitles you to…[a weekend camping with me!]" which is great if you don't know when the other person will be free, then you can plan it together. You could use an empty notebook and have the first page be a letter explaining the gift, even add a few printouts or clippings of what you might do, scrapbook-style. Then you can fill up the rest of the pages with photos and ticket stubs from your getaway.

If you're gonna go ahead and book something like a flight, you can go paperless and send them an ecard with the flight confirmation inside.

The beauty of the getaway gift is that you and the recipient can agree to get it for one another. Sure, it may not be a surprise, but you don't have to worry about them outspending you, or that they secretly hate the limited edition, plastic-wrapped, overpriced bath and body set you spent way too long smelling, choosing, lining up for and wrapping.

Tip: this is a gift for someone you like to hang out with. Your bestie. Your partner. Your mom. Or not. You decide.

2. Give the gift of giving

If the person is adamant that they DON'T. NEED. ANYTHING. No, SERIOUSLY. Then take them seriously! Donate the money you would spend on a gift to a charity or organization. Think about the issues that really matter to this person and find a cause that you know they would want to support.

Tip: Charity Navigator is a great place to find worthy organizations to support. Some organizations, such as The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, will even offer the option to "foster" or "adopt" an animal, such as an orphaned elephant - giving you progress updates and sharing their story.

Packaging Idea: When you're ready to put this gift under the tree, print out some information about the organization, roll it up and tie with a fun ribbon!

3. Pick an activity

Do you have a friend that always talks about how much she wishes she could paint? Or perhaps one that loves stand-up comedy, but he's never been to a live show?

Go ahead and get tickets or a voucher! To a concert, a scuba diving lesson, a cooking class, a month at a gym or yoga studio. Groupon and Living Social are great places to discover fun activities at reasonable prices.

Like the getaway, it can be a surprise or, if it's someone you're close to, you can agree to buy each other's ticket and go together.

Tip: This is an awesome idea for families with kids because you can get them all the same thing instead of going to four different stores! Pick a family-friendly play or day out.

Packaging Idea: Send your friend a calendar invite and don't tell them where you are taking them!

4. Support an entrepreneur

Ever heard of micro-lending? Kiva is a non-profit organisation that connects "borrowers" with "lenders" all over the world. You can send $25 or more to the borrower of your choice, to help them to fund their business, get an education or help their community.

Isn't that the same as donating? Nope. This is a loan, so you actually get your money back again. It's your choice if you want to re-lend it, donate it, or withdraw it.

So how is this a gift? Well, just like with a donation, take your time to choose a borrower who you think your friend will care about. Making a tangible difference in someone's life is really gratifying, so chances are once the money comes back their way, they'll want to keep on lending!

Tip: This is a great gift to inspire wannabe entrepreneurs! Watching someone else on the other side of the world make their dream come true can be just the thing to help a procrastinator get out of their head and work on their own vision.

How To Package: Set up a Kiva account and lend $25 in your friend's name, they will get the email once they are signed up! (Maybe send a preemptive or follow-up email too, so they know it's not spam.)

5. Get creative

As in, actually make something! Knit a scarf, frame one of your sketches, write a short story (or a long one! Fun fact: Did you know that Stephenie Meyer originally wrote the sequel to Twilight as a gift for her sister? Um, I'll take a personalized novel please!)

And don't forget the ultimate way to someone's heart… food! You can make jam, cookies, cake, mulled wine, fancy herbed popcorn, whatever - everyone knows homemade tastes best. The beauty of this gift is that you can make a huuuuge batch and give the same gift to a bunch of people. Delicious and efficient.

Tip: If you're worried this might make you seem cheap, don't. Your time, your skills and your ideas have value. (Think of how much you pay for stuff when other people make it!)

How to Package: If you're cooking something, you could add the printed or handwritten recipe so they can recreate it for themselves.

Tell us:

Have you ever given any of these gifts before?

Which is your favorite, or do you have one to add?

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