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8 Gift Ideas that "Go Beyond" the Occasion

by Carol White Llewellyn


Over the years, most of us have received gifts for birthdays, holidays and anniversaries we’ve deeply treasured. The most memorable gifts, whether tangible or not, are those that show us the giver really knows and understands us.


When I was four or five, my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I had seen her make ballet costumes for children in the neighborhood, so I told her that, more than anything, I wanted a ballerina costume.


Christmas morning came, and no Rockefeller City Rockette was ever more thrilled than I to see a lovely red ballerina costume, complete with sassy little red hat, that was lovingly made for me by my mother. To this day, it remains among my top ten favorite gifts.


Over the years, there have been many favorite tangible and non-tangible gifts from those I love. What all have in common is that the giver showed, through the gift, how important I was to them. It was never about the amount of money they spent, but about the thought that went into the gift.


If you’re struggling to find a perfect birthday, holiday or anniversary gift for close friends and family on your list, and nothing seems to “hit home,” consider the following ideas for inspiration:

  1. The gift of membership – A membership to a museum or an arts organization is a great way to give two gifts in one…the gift of a year-long experience to your loved-one, and the gift of support to the non-profit arts organization.
  2. Photo gifts – Some of our most treasured memories get captured in photos. There are dozens of wonderful items, from wine glasses and trivets, to ornaments and photo books, that make ideal ways to share a memory as part of the gift.
  3. The Honey-do list gift – Most people have a long list of things around the house that need to be done, from changing out electrical sockets to painting a room. If you have home improvement skills, they can be a perfect gift for friends or family who are home improvement-challenged! My sister and brother-in-law did a living room makeover for their best friends, who were delighted with the gift offer and thrilled with the results.
  4. Experiential gifts – This gift always entails spending time with your loved one…taking them to the zoo or out to lunch, enjoying a picnic together, setting up a tea party, taking a day trip, visiting a state park, gardening, pottery painting or fishing together…. The gift is in the sharing of the experience and each other's company.
  5. The charitable gift – When I was in college, I always gave my French Professor a small token of my admiration and appreciation. I was often perplexed about what to get him. I remember asking, “What do you give the Priest who has everything?” I wish I’d thought then about making a donation to a charitable organization in his name.
  6. Handcrafted gifts – If you have a special talent – jewelry making, woodworking, photography, knitting – a handmade gift from the heart can never go wrong. These types of gifts are lovely gifts, not only to the recipient, but to the person creating the gift.
  7. Tickets to a show or sporting event – Almost everyone has a few challenging people on their lists for whom to find gifts. Tickets to the movies, a sporting event, a concert or theatrical performance -- especially if you go together or they can take a friend or family member -- can hit home when more tangible gifts fall flat.
  8. The gift of time – If you have friends who would like to get away, but who have pets that need care or a parent that needs attending, the gift of volunteering to take over those responsibilities – whether it’s for an afternoon, a day, or a week – can mean the world to a friend in giving them time for themselves.


Coming up with "the perfect gift" often means skipping the malls, and tapping into your heart and creativity. But I guarantee the results will be worth the effort!


If you have other ideas of gifts that “go beyond,” won’t you please share them with me by sending a note to Carol@BeyondtheNest.com.