Not sure what to get someone this holiday season? Got a Christmas list that’s far from finished? Worried about whether things are in stock?
Whether you’re finding empty shelves or are otherwise stuck in a holiday shopping rut, I’ve got seven alternatives to traditional gifts that’ll please the pickiest recipients. The best part, you can buy any of them from the comfort of your couch.
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1. Send a personalized video message from your recipient’s favorite celebrity with Cameo.
Know somebody with a celebrity crush? You can make their Christmas with a personalized Cameo video message from their favorite celebrity. With Cameo.com, you can select from movie stars, reality stars, sports icons, musicians, comedians, and more.
Prices range from $3 for lesser-known actors to $2,500 for Caitlyn Jenner. There are plenty of options in the $100 and less price point, but they’re mostly ensemble and voice actors. You’re better off in the $100-$200 range, where you can get Randy Travis, Taye Diggs, and some cast members from The Office.
You can even request the big man himself, Santa Claus, to say something special to your loved one. Most complete your request within 24 hours.
For the budget-conscious gift giver, consider sending your loved one a celebrity DM for less (singer Lilly Allen will chat for $5.99). There’s also 1:1 video calls. Cheapest I found was $5 for two mins with Whiskey N Chops (two French bulldogs) and the most expensive, $500 for five mins with Manny Fernandez (serial entrepreneur and angel investor).
2. Give an experience with a gift membership and/or subscriptions.
For those hard-to-please people on your Christmas list, try skipping the material things this holiday season and gift them one of these memorable experiences instead:
Airbnb Online Experiences
Did you know about Airbnb online experiences? With these unique opportunities, your recipient can enjoy global adventures without leaving their living room — including Italian grandma pasta cooking classes, science exploration with Bill Nye, and museum tours.
Bright Cellars Wine Club
Bright Cellars gifts make sure your recipient won’t have to stress about an empty wine cabinet.
Their one-month subscription for six bottles is their cheapest ($100), which breaks down to $16.67 each.
No matter the subscription, the per-bottle price remains $16.67. Sorry, no bulk price break here. You can also get:
- Two months (12 bottles) for $200
- Three months (18 bottles) for $300
- Six months (36 bottles) for $600
- One year (72 bottles) for $1,200
Costco Gold Membership
A Costco Gold membership is perfect for your favorite savvy grocery shopper. A one-year membership will only cost you $60.
Once they receive the gift card, the recipient has to bring it to the membership counter at their local Costco. If they already have a membership, they can also use the gift card for renewal or upgrade to an Executive Membership for a 2% annual reward on select purchases.
Disney+ Streaming Service
Gift Disney, Pixar, Marvel, or Stars Wars fans with a year of the Disney+ streaming service for $79.99. All you have to do is provide the recipient’s email address, select when you want the subscription sent, and include a message if you wish.
Unfortunately, this gift is only for new Disney+ subscribers. After the year’s up, they can either continue the subscription or cancel.
A one-year MasterClass membership can encourage anybody to learn from the greats. Whether it’s cooking with Gordon Ramsay, photography with Annie Leibovitz, or playing basketball with Stephen Curry, an all-access pass MasterClass subscription allows your recipient to take any number of classes.
To gift an individual course, just click on any class from the MasterClass homepage and tap the “Give This Class” button.
3. Lend a hand with a gift of services from Care.com.
For a great Christmas gift alternative, be an absolute LIFESAVER to a friend or family member by giving them a service like childcare, housesitting, tutoring, housekeeping, or pet-sitting from Care.com. Because Care.com doesn’t offer gift cards or gift certificates, you will need to post a job and conduct a search for a caregiver on behalf of your recipient.
Once you’re ready to interview prospective care providers, get a background check, and see reviews on them, you’ll need a premium membership (one month $38.99, three months $25.99 a month, or an annual membership for $12.99 a month).
Although the cost varies based on the type of care you want, where you live, and how long you need services, Care.com babysitters earn an average of $14.25 an hour and pet sitters earn $12.50.
4. Satisfy foodies on your Christmas list with snack boxes.
Got a foodie on your Christmas list? Here are a couple of untraditional gift ideas:
You can order a Harry & David gift basket, tower, or box with various holiday treats, such as chocolates, sweets, bakery goodies, fruit, wreaths, wine, and stuff for the kitchen and home. Enter your email at Harry&David.com and receive 10% off an order right away, or save it for later.
Snackers on your list might enjoy the CraveBox care package on Amazon. For $24.95 (with same-day delivery possible for Amazon Prime members), you can send your recipient a box filled with 45 snack items like:
- Granola bars
5. Send group personalized JibJab e-cards to family and friends (and save a few bucks over conventional Christmas cards).
Instead of mailing out traditional Christmas cards, get krazy creative with a personalized JibJab e-card, gif, or music video you can send to a group of recipients.
While they offer a free account, it’s pretty limited in that you can only create a couple of free cards. But if you usually send out Christmas cards to a bunch of people every year, it might be worth the $24 annual fee for JibJab’s premium account, which offers unlimited e-cards for any occasion.
6. Customize electronic photo albums, pillows, blankets, coffee cups, and more.
You can create photo gifts for your loved ones this Christmas, such as albums, pillows, or blankets with CanvasPrints.com. Enter your email to save 10% on your order. Place your order by Dec. 15, 2021, for Christmas delivery.
Photo books at MixBooks.com start at $15.99, but now through Dec. 31, 2021, you can save 50% with the code SRCHTRYMIX if you’re a new customer.
You can customize cards, albums, calendars, and home decor for anyone on your Christmas list. Once you order your print book, you can order a mobile-friendly copy for $15.99 and up.
Here are the cutoff dates for Christmas delivery:
- Foil Cards: Dec. 13
- Lay Flat Books: Dec. 17
- Everything Else: Dec. 20 (with Express shipping)
You can customize pretty much anything on Shutterfly.com. I’m talking pillows, puzzles, magnets, coffee cups, and more. Create an Instant Book (20 pages) from your smartphone, computer, or tablet in minutes, and they only cost $9.99, which includes shipping. Sign up for Shutterfly text alerts and save 20% on your order. Here are your deadlines for Christmas delivery:
- Economy Shipping: Dec. 16
- Standard: Dec. 17
- Expedited: Dec. 18
- Rush: Dec. 19
- Super Rush: Dec. 20
Like other digital photo printing sites, Snapfish.com allows you to customize various items, including phone cases, tote bags, and playing cards. Watch for deals like 70% off photo book orders of $20 or more to save big bucks. Here are the shipping deadlines for Christmas delivery:
- Ground: Dec. 9
- Expedited: Dec. 16
- Rush: Dec. 19
7. Email digital gift cards (and stick it to shipping deadlines).
Gift cards are a solid go-to for the holidays, especially for last-minute gifts. When you’ve passed up the shipping deadlines for packages, send e-gift cards, and you won’t have to worry about them getting lost or being late.
Raise offers discounted gift cards that can save you up to 30%. They offer gift cards from national and smaller retailers. You’ll find the biggest savings on restaurant gift cards, for example:
Buy 1 $30 Cold Stone Creamery gift card for $23.02 (23.30% off)
Buy 1 $25 Bob Evans gift card for $18.63 (25.5% off)
Buy 1 $10 Noah’s New York Bagels gift card $7 (30% off)
GiftCardMall.com has multi-store gift cards and custom Visa gift cards. While they don’t offer discounted gift cards, you might find these the perfect gift for anyone you have trouble deciding what to get every year. Here are a few holiday multi-card options:
- Lowe’s, GrubHub, Chili’s, Kohl’s, and GameStop
- BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, Maggiano’s, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Red Robin, and The Cheesecake Factory
- Athleta, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buffalo Wild Wings, Grubhub, Macy’s, Outback Steakhouse, and The Cheesecake Factory
Gift Card Granny
Like Raise, Gift Card Granny offers discounted gift cards and 1% cashback on gift cards for retailers like Target, Sephora, and Starbucks. I admit the cashback amount isn’t tremendous per card ($0.25 for a $25 gift card, $0.50 on a $50 gift card, and $1 on a $100 gift card), but it all adds up. They also offer customizable Visa and Mastercard gift cards.
GiftCards.com offers 1% cashback on most gift cards and allows you to create a Visa or Mastercard virtual account that you can customize with a message and photo. At GiftCards.com, you can buy gift cards from $25 to $500 in $5 increments.
For the gamers in your life, find digital gift cards for PC and Mac from SteamPowered.com, Playstation gift cards at the Playstation Store, and Xbox gift cards at the Microsoft Store. You can also buy them online at many retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy.