These truly are one-of-a-kind gifts.

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The past year and half has been hard for a lot of people, and after being away from our loved ones last Christmas, this season is the perfect time to let them know how much you love and appreciate them. I love giving sentimental gifts (I pride myself on being able to choose the perfect gift for everyone on my list), and after the year we’ve had, it seems fitting to shop for gifts that are especially meaningful. Whether you’re back to in-person gatherings or mailing your gifts from afar, these sweet gifts will let your family and friends know how much they mean to you.

The best part? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to give a sentimental gift. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite thoughtful gift ideas (starting at just $4!) to help you get started. 

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Credit: Courtesy of Artifact Uprising

Custom Recipe Book

Artifact Uprising is my go-to for photo book gifts, and this season they’ve pulled out all the stops to help you create something special. They’ll show you how to put together a custom cookbook full of handwritten recipes from family and friends using one of their high-quality photo books. 

Buy It: Everyday Photo Book ($62, Artifact Uprising)

gold necklace that says momma with a flower
Credit: Courtesy of Made by Mary

Heartfelt Jewelry

Made by Mary has dozens of customizable jewelry pieces for a truly thoughtful gift. Add her kids’ names to a stamped disk necklace, or give her a charm stamped with her birth month flower. This gift is perfect for anyone from your bestie to your grandma.

Buy It: Nora Disc Necklace ($78, Made by Mary)

maroon mug that says thankful
Credit: Courtesy of Chalkfuloflove

Thankful Mug

Let them know just how thankful you are to have them in your life with this gorgeous ceramic earthenware mug. This inexpensive gift doubles as a practical Christmas gift, too, because they’ll think of you (and remember how much they mean to you) each time they pour a hot cup of coffee.

Buy It: Thankful Mug ($20, Chalkfuloflove)

puzzle of the new york times
Credit: Courtesy of Uncommon Goods

New York Times Puzzle

As we spend more time indoors and with perhaps fewer people around this winter, we’re all looking for ways to stay occupied and sane. This Christmas, give them a custom puzzle designed to match the cover of the New York Times on the day they were born. It’s a thoughtful gift that’ll keep them busy as the chill sets in outside.

Buy It: Custom Front Page Puzzle ($50, Uncommon Goods)

multicolor ornaments with names and dates
Credit: Courtesy of Etsy / ProperLetter

Custom Christmas Ornaments

I love giving ornaments as gifts because you know they can be reused year after year. This Christmas, order a set of custom ornaments hand-painted with names and dates. You can request a family last name (great for newlyweds!) or place an order for first names and dates to represent the children in the family. The ornaments are available in 19 colors and you can choose from 10 customization options to create something truly special.

Buy It: Custom Christmas Ornament ($20, Etsy)

photo canvas on a green background
Credit: Courtesy of Shutterfly

Photo Gifts

Shutterfly is my go-to for personalized gifts, because you can easily turn family photos and memories into keepsakes. Order a custom canvas for mom, or get a coffee cup printed with dad’s favorite photos. This year, I’m making gifts with travel photos from years past. We weren’t able to go on a family vacation this year because of the pandemic, so I made custom gifts for my parents using photos from our favorite vacations through the years.

Buy It: Easel Back Canvas ($15, Shutterfly)

framed dog print on a table
Credit: Courtesy of West and Willow

Pet Portrait

If you're shopping for someone with a pet (or two!) consider a framed illustration of their four-legged friend. These custom portraits from West and Willow are easy to create: Choose from one, two or three pets per print. Send over a good photo of the furry friend to be featured, and choose how you'd like it customized.

Buy It: Framed Pet Poster ($65, West and Willow)

mickey shaped black mugs
Credit: Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Sentimental Souvenir

We may be stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t commemorate a favorite vacation with something functional and reusable. Think of it as a post-vacation souvenir! These Mickey-inspired holiday mugs from Pottery Barn are one way to commemorate a visit to the happiest place on earth. 

Buy It: Mickey Mouse Lidded Mugs ($25, Pottery Barn)

photo map print
Credit: Courtesy of Thunder Bunny Labs

State Photo Map

Preserve your favorite travel memories with this creative photo frame. When you order the map, you'll be able to easily use their website to upload and print photos in the shape of each state. Plus, you can go back to the website year after year to print new photos each time you take a vacation.

Buy It: 50 States Photo Map (from $59, Thunder Bunny Labs)

yellow box of gifts
Credit: Courtesy of Box Babe

Sunshine Gift Box

A one-of-a-kind gift box from Box Babe is an easy way to make someone feel special this season. Choose one of their curated boxes (we’re loving the cheery Box of Sunshine), or use the ‘build a box’ feature to completely customize your own. Plus, each box is delivered in a gorgeous patterned box, so you don’t even have to wrap it!

Buy It: Box of Sunshine ($50, Box Babe Gift Co.)

white candle in a jar
Credit: Courtesy of Birthdate Candles

Birthdate Candle

One of the reasons I love giving sentimental gifts is because you can usually be sure they don’t already have it. This year I’m giving friends these unique birth date candles, so everyone will get their own candle that’s been completely customized based on their birthday and zodiac sign. You can shop by specific date or by astrological sign, if you aren’t certain of the exact date. Since all 365 scents are different, you can be sure they don’t already have a similar scented candle in their collection.

Buy It: Birthdate Candle ($38, Birthdate Candles)

blue floral box of rifle cards
Credit: Courtesy of Rifle Paper Co.

Sweet Stationery

During the pandemic, I’ve gotten back into sending snail mail, and I’ve realized what a thoughtful way it is to keep up with your loved ones. While the modern conveniences of FaceTime and Skype are great, there’s nothing quite like seeing Grandma’s handwriting on a letter in the mailbox. This set of gorgeous notecards from Rifle Paper Co. will help your recipient send their own snail mail in the coming year.

Buy It: Mixed Florals Card Box ($30, Rifle Paper Co.)

candle with personalized photo
Credit: Courtesy of Shutterfly

Photo Candles

I love giving photo gifts because it’s such an easy way to give them something that captures a memory—but there are only so many times you can get away with a plain framed photo. This year, Shutterfly has stepped up the photo gift game with a huge selection of gifts your recipient will actually want. This customizable candle is a unique way to commemorate any favorite photo.

Buy It: Design-Your-Own Candle ($22, Shutterfly)

23 and me test
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Ancestry Test Kit

This best-selling, top-rated DNA testing kit can reveal information about your ancestry and health. Nearly 15,000 buyers swear by the 23 and Me kit. After you purchase your kit, simply send in saliva samples and in a few weeks, you'll find out where your family comes from, and maybe even discover some famous relatives. This makes a great gift for a grandparent.

Buy It: 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service ($99, 23andMe)

navy print with a print of stars
Credit: Courtesy of The Night Sky

Night Sky Print

If you’re not usually the sentimental gift type, it can be hard to know where to start looking for ideas. One of my favorite things to do is give a gift inspired by an event in my recipient’s life that year. Whether they got married, had a baby, or bought a new house, you can usually find a gift to commemorate that occasion—like these totally customizable night sky prints. They’ll turn the date and location of any event into a print of what the constellations looked like at that exact moment. It’s a heartfelt way to acknowledge their life event, while giving them something they can display for years to come. 

Buy It: Custom Sky Print (from $50, The Night Sky)

Jerusalem cookbook
Credit: Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

Travel Cookbook

After a year of canceled vacations, it’s safe to say we’re all looking forward to being able to travel again. If you’re planning a family vacation next year (or rescheduling one you had to cancel because of the pandemic), give a gift that’ll help your vacation cohorts prepare: a travel-inspired cookbook of your destination.

Buy It: Jerusalem: A Cookbook ($31, Barnes & Noble)

mint floral recipe tin with recipe cards
Credit: Courtesy of Rifle Paper Co.

Recipe Box

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to put together an ultra-sentimental gift. If you’re on a budget this year, consider giving them a recipe tin filled with handwritten recipes from family and friends. You’ll have to buy the recipe tin (I like this one from Rifle Paper Co. because it comes with matching recipe cards), but you won’t have to pay for any customization! Simply take one recipe card to each family member you’d like to include and ask them to write down their favorite recipe. Once you’ve collected the cards, fill the tin and wrap it up.

Buy It: Citrus Floral Recipe Tin ($34, Rifle Paper Co.)

cutting board
Credit: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Personalized Wood Board

Sharing a meal is one of the best ways to spend quality time together. For the days where you can't split a meat and cheese platter in person, give your friend or loved one a personalized board. They'll think of you each time they break out the charcuterie or start chopping veggies for dinner, and it'll be an extra special touch when you are able to spend an at-home happy hour or meal together.

Buy It: Monogram Cutting Board ($165, Williams Sonoma)

scrapbook paper
Credit: Courtesy of Echo Park

Scrapbook Kit

A scrapbook kit is an ideal Christmas gift for family members, because it doubles as an activity you can do together. This season, grab a scrapbook, a selection of themed papers (this Cozy Christmas kit from Echo Park is a festive option for an at-home holiday celebration), have a few photos printed, and wrap it all up into one big gift. Once they’ve unwrapped the box, you can spend time creating the scrapbook together. 

Buy It: Echo Park Cozy Christmas Kit ($15, Joanns)

red and white question cards with red pencils
Credit: Courtesy of We're Not Really Strangers

Meaningful Card Game

A sentimental gift doesn’t necessarily have to be personalized. A gift like the We’re Not Really Strangers game is a thoughtful way to help your recipient dive deeper into their relationships. The game holds 150 cards filled with questions and wildcards, so they can play it with anyone they want to connect with and help them learn more about each other with deep and thought-provoking prompts. This one is a great gift for couples or best friends.

Buy It: We're Not Really Strangers Card Game ($25, Target)

white robe with monogram
Credit: Courtesy of Crane & Canopy

Personal and Practical

This cozy gift is practical and thoughtful (my favorite kind to give!) It’s so soft, you know they’ll be wrapped up in it all winter long. Plus, the monogram option makes this a great gift for a newly-engaged couple or anyone who has recently gotten married and changed their name. I’m all about a practical gift, especially if you can find a way to dress up something you know they need or want.

Buy It: Plush Cotton Bathrobe ($80, Crane & Canopy)

two people looking at photos on the floor
Credit: Courtesy of Legacybox


Every year, the montage of Clark Griswold watching old family movies in Christmas Vacation gets me a little teary eyed—there’s nothing quite like watching old family movies to get you in the holiday spirit. And this year, you can turn your old home movies into DVDs or digital files to easily share with the whole family. Just box them up, send them to Legacybox, and get back your physical copies with a set of digital copies.

Buy It: Starter Kit (from $32, Legacybox)

meural frame from best buy
Credit: Courtesy of Best Buy

Digital Photo Frame

If you can't choose just one image for a sentimental photo gift, try giving a whole album of photos inside a digital frame. The Meural digital photo frame allows you to upload up to 1GB of images for a parent, grandparent, or anyone else who might like to look back on happy family memories this season. Plus at 15 inches wide, the display is bigger than most other photo frames.

Buy It: Meural Digital Photo Frame ($300, Best Buy)

tote kits
Credit: Courtesy of Wildflower Delivery Co.

Modern Sewing Kit

We’re focused on supporting small businesses this season, and Wildflower Delivery Co. is a new one we recently discovered. They create all-in-one modern sewing kits that will help you create bright clothing pieces from gorgeous fabrics. Choose your style and fabric, then use the materials and instructions involved in your kit to create a gorgeous, handmade item to wear (or gift!).

Buy It: Canvas Tote Kit ($70, Wildflower Delivery Co.)


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