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2020 Non-Commercial Holiday Gift Guide

by Jessica McLaughlin

The year 2020 has been an emotionally grueling one. But, if nothing else, it also brought a sense of perspective and opened our eyes to how fast our lives can be remade into something else entirely. It showed us the importance of small daily sacrifice: wearing a mask and staying six feet apart to ease the lives of others. The year also revealed the fatigue of isolation and with that, the insignificance of material items. Instead, we were faced with the longing for laughter around full dinner tables and the healing that comes from a single hug. This holiday season is about making up for lost time with family and friends and ensuring those around us feel special through warm-hearted and thoughtful gifts. Here are a few non-commercial gift guide ideas you can share with your loved ones to create lasting memories that will carry into the new year.

1. Make a Scrapbook

Fill the pages of a scrapbook with photos and other sentiments (concert tickets, pressed leaves, etc.) that remind you and a loved one of the moments you’ve shared. If you’d like, you could even leave a couple of pages blank in hopes of filling them out together. There are a few templates available online if you get lost along the way. The idea is to create something unique, representing the relationship between you and a special someone.

2. Give a Subscription Box

A niche subscription box is a gift that will continue long after the holidays. With hundreds to choose from, there’s bound to be one for every person on your list. Each month, a carefully curated box arrives in the mail with new items: books for the avid reader in your life, tools for the craftsmen, or make up for your favorite fashion guru. Subscription boxes are ideal presents for hobbyists, those who enjoy supporting small businesses, and the giftees in your life that are tough to shop for.

3. Write “Open When” Letters

Another easy-to-craft gift idea is “open when” letters. You can create as many as you’d like, similar to the coupon book, with a personalized title on each envelope. A few examples: “open on Christmas,” “open on your birthday,” “open when you’re having a bad day,” etc. You can include a note or letter for your loved one to re-read for years to come.

non-commercial christmas gift ideas

4. Handcraft a Coupon Book

Many retailers sell generic coupon books with fill-in-the-blank sheets, but it’s easy and inexpensive to create your own. You can tailor them for whomever you’d like: a coupon to take Mom out for lunch or a night out (without the kids) for your spouse. The coupon book will give your friends and family endless opportunities to make memories with you throughout the year.

5. Gift a Virtual Class

Nowadays, a quick Google search will offer you many ways to learn a new skill or help you brush up on an old one. MasterClass, the e-learning website, lets you practice photography with Annie Leibovitz or your comedic timing with Steve Martin. You can purchase an annual subscription or buy individual classes. Another option is Coursera, which offers philosophy and mathematics courses for those who want to expand their knowledge of the world around them. And if a collegiate experience isn’t the right thing, Craftsy has classes on knitting and woodworking. Or, if you would like to support a local business, try a virtual paint and sip class or yoga studios in the area.

non-commercial gift guide 2020

6. Plant a Tree or Name a Star

The Trees Remember is one of several websites dedicated to planting trees in honor or celebration of a loved one. The gift is a thoughtful tribute that will last for generations, while also helping restore fragile ecosystems in U.S. National Forests. The company gives the recipient a personalized card with the tree’s location and a card for you to write your own message. Adopting or naming a star in the night sky, available through the Online Star Register, might also be something to look into if you have a star-gazer in the family.

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