Gift ideas: It’s the thought that counts

Gifting doesn’t need a lot of time or money, just a little thoughtfulness

Gift Ideas

Serious gift-givers may invest hours in thinking about gift ideas and looking for the perfect gift. But most of us don’t have the time, and sometimes even a budget, to match that kind of perfection.

During this brouhaha of buying a gift, a zealous gift-giver usually assumes that an expensive gift may feel more special. But most times, the receiver feels burdened by a hefty price tag. Although an expensive gift may take you a long way with popularity, it’s a thoughtful gift that creates an impression of a lifetime. It may sound too good to be true but a meaningful gift doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or time. A thoughtful gift demonstrates the care and attention on the part of the giver; it evokes emotions every time it is used, seen or even thought about; it strengthens alliances which reap the intangible reward of happiness in the giver and the receiver.

Decipher the meaningful gifting code for everyone, from your family and friends to your boss and colleagues, even those whom you might know only a little about.

Edible gifts

To an epicurean, homemade food would probably be the most thoughtful gift. You could pass on your traditional culinary skills or secret family recipe. Create a small recipe booklet or just write basic instructions with the ingredients to cook it and give it in a basket decorated with ribbons. If the recipient is not an ardent chef, making a batch of their favourite cookies or chocolates would work well too.

edible gifts

A basket with an assortment of teas/coffees could be an instant hit with a tea or coffee lovers. Add coffee mugs found in gift/bargain shops or a tea set; some gift shops even personalise them. Tea cookies or biscotti in a decorated tin or rewrapped add a personal touch.

A big bag of assorted nuts may not seem like a meaningful gift to any sane person. But it can be a healthy and meaningful gift for people close to us, especially those who deal with our craziness daily. A nutty personal note saying, “I know I drive you nuts but thank you for loving me anyway” could add a personal touch to it particularly if you’re trying to show appreciation or say sorry to the recipient.

If the gift recipient is away from home, getting their favourite local food shipped could be a great gifting option.

DIY gifts

It may seem daunting to create a gift; however, it will be a gift that will be remembered by the recipient for years to come. A little thought and time is all that is required.

Making glittered candles couldn’t be simpler. Just buy plain candles and place it in a box. Apply a coat of glue and spoon glitter on them. Let it dry overnight. These candles will add sparkle to the recipient’s room even when it’s not lit. One idea is to make an ‘I love you because’ box. Fill a box with handwritten notes bearing messages about why you love the person. Adding ribbons, buttons or things that you would think are beautiful would make it even more personal. Another simple yet expressive idea to make a gift would be burning a CD of the recipient’s favourite music.

Gift tickets

Buy a couple of tickets to the recipient’s favourite show, drama, concert or movie. You could probably even write a personalised note saying, “You rock my world” or “You are my most favourite person.”

Memory gifts

some more gift ideas

Equipped with technologically advanced phones that come bundled with multi megapixel cameras, we click more pictures than ever before. But most of these photos never make it out of our phones/computers. Fill a journal with good old printed photographs, memorable quotes and moments to celebrate the receiver of the gift. Decorate it with ribbons or coloured paper to add more spark to the gift.

A collage of photos can be easily made on a computer or by simply pasting pictures on a sheet of paper. This collage could be framed and would make a wonderful gift to be cherished forever.

Blast from the past gift

If your gift can evoke nostalgia in the receiver, it can’t get more meaningful than that. How about making a memory drawing? You don’t have to be remotely artistic to make this gift. Just draw a simple picture of one special memory that you share with that person. For example, if you solved crosswords with the recipient then make a small crossword-drawing with meaningful words like love, peace, friendship etc. Get this framed so that it can be preserved forever.

How about burning their favourite childhood songs on a CD? To add to it, you could record your personal message before each song, recalling your shared memories associated with the song.

Gift of time or skill

There are some things money can’t buy, such as your time. Give the recipient a music lesson or help them set up a blog or plant a garden—any skill that you have and the recipient would love to inculcate.

We all have a friend or family member who expresses their desire to learn a skill like dance or pottery but never really takes the trouble of signing up for a course. Enrol them to one to get them started.

Financial and charitable gifts

Instead of giving clutter gifts to children, open a joint or individual account for a child and contribute an amount every birthday. Your child will look back over the years and thank you for the precious gift you have given them. You could even do this for others’ kids. It will even be appreciated by other parents.

Any act of kindness and generosity comes back to us manifold. A gift of donation to a cause close to someone could increase their happiness exponentially. However, this gift will work best when given to someone who is known to be philanthropic by nature.

Gifts in a jar

Gifts in a jar

Buy a plant from a local nursery and, instead of a traditional clay pot, pot it in a mason jar. A herb like tulsi, coriander or mint would be preferable choice. It will be an aesthetic as well as utility gift.

Homemade sugar scrub in a jar is a good gift for any beauty conscious person. It can be effortlessly made by combining one cup of cane sugar, one cup of light olive oil, 4 – 5 drops of vitamin-E oil and half a teaspoon of vanilla essence. It is an excellent scrub for the feet and hands. Tip: embellish it with ribbons and a note.


Monogramming is the easiest way to add personal touch to any gift. In fact, it has been a common practice since centuries. People pressed for ideas could get a gift monogrammed. You won’t need to drift around because a lot of companies and stores specialise in monogramming and do it on almost anything from watches to towels. A personal message or just the initials of the recipient is a good way to show someone you care. If you can’t manage to find a monogrammer, just grab a permanent ink marker or a tube of oil/fabric paint and get going by making a small motif of initials on a T-shirt, coffee mug or even coasters.

Gift certificates

A gift certificate or card would be the last resort of a thoughtful gift-giver and it can be easily labelled as a fall back. However, it could be personalised in the most meaningful way. All you need to do is find out one interest of the recipient. For example, if you’re gifting an avid reader, make a list of some of the books he or she might love and attach it with a gift certificate of a book store.

Gift of love

When we bear in mind that the best gifts are our family and friends we embrace the true spirit of gifting. That’s why the most meaningful gift of Love cannot be wrapped. And it is one gift that will always be the most thoughtful gift of all times and seasons.

This was first published in the February 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.


  1. A subscription to a magazine or newspaper you know the person will enjoy is a gift that keeps on giving. Large-print calendars with family birthdays, anniversaries, etc., marked and personalized with family photographs, are welcome, as are large-print address books with information transferred from the recipient’s records.


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