An Unconventional Gift Guide

No stressful mall experiences needed

Jayde Atchison (she/her) // Opinions Editor 
Natasha Lee (she/her) // Illustrator

No matter how many holidays have passed in our lifetimes, we never truly feel prepared for December. Each year, procrastination gets the better of us and many think they are able to do the impossible and find the perfect gift in a shop days before the present exchange. Amazon is one way to get around the stress of crowded malls, streets or markets, but then you risk shipping delays and having your gift lost in the fray of underwhelming generic — well let’s face it — crap. 

Unless it’s something materialistic that has been on the wishlist for years or for sentimental reasons, the memory of a mundane item will fade and the last minute purchase you threw together won’t be remembered for long. Instead, shake things up and blow your loved one away with a thoughtful, unique and inexpensive gift that will stick with them for longer than any pair of reading socks will. 

For the sentimentalist in your life, you can craft an “I love you soup.” The ingredients are simple and can be found affordably at your local Michael’s (or Dollarama if the budget is extra tight this year). Collect some coloured paper, a mason jar or any receptacle of your liking, and a sturdy pen or marker. The way you make the soup is by writing down reasons you love the person receiving the gift and tossing them into the jar. Add some favourite memories and thank-you notes to spice things up. You’ll have them laughing and (hopefully) crying with a gift that was curated just for them. 

For the adventurer in your life, it can be hard to shop for them because they typically are boy-scout-level prepared for anything. For them, a scavenger hunt could make a memorable and exciting experience for you both. This can be done in a few different ways, but with the same overall theme. If you are also an explorer of sorts, you can go to the sites ahead of time and hide items (photos, letters, picnic items) for the giftee to discover later. Alternatively, create a list of places that mean something to you both, go on the hunt together and keep the items in your backpack for once they have figured it out. It’s a fun way to rediscover past memories and spaces that hold meaning to the relationship. 

The most important thing when it comes to creating a holiday gift that will never be forgotten is to listen to the person all year and pick up on what outside the box ideas could work for them. If you have a book lover in your life, take them to a used bookshop. Offer a game of choosing a book you think the other would like, and buy both at the end of the day. If your person has been mentioning in passing that they wish they knew how to cook, organize a cooking class for both of you to attend (or if you’re good at cooking then you can cut out the middleman and offer a fun one-on-one lesson). 

People are easy to ‘shop’ for if you’re willing to take a deeper look into their lives. Instead of simply buying a candle and calling it a day, get creative and try and imagine if there’s a more meaningful way to celebrate the ones you love. In the end you’ll be contributing one less thing to the landfill, and probably being nicer to your wallet as well.

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