There’s nothing like early-November door-busting sales of mass-made acrylic scarves to make anyone allergic to the idea of giving impersonal items that will be returned, lost or forgotten soon after they’re unwrapped. The retail climate has changed so much in the past decade that the combination of ridiculous excess, poor quality, and the constant din of sales pitches, deals and steals has taken the fun out of holiday shopping – and made it into a circus of spending. The answer, it turns out, is to give gifts of meaning in the form of personalized photo books that solidify memories – in the form of calendars that mark special occasions close to the heart – and in the form of note cards that keep loved ones connected over the miles. Here are our top picks for gifts that friends and family members will actually cherish – that won’t be returned or forgotten – and that are made to last.
FOR THE SIBLINGS
Best-Of Holiday Photos Book
Gather a few family photos from every holiday from over the years – starting with the big hair and bad outfits of yesteryear and spanning every year since. Take it all the way up to what we believe to be the great hair and fabulous outfits of the present. With its homespun feel and classic holiday themes, Mixbook’s Elegant Christmas photo book template is the perfect backdrop to years of celebrations.
FOR THE GRANDPARENTS
Even if the grandparents are far better at remembering significant dates than you are, a personalized 12-month photo calendar with every family event pre-entered is a wonderful, thoughtful gift. Print lots of copies for every grandparent, plus extras for siblings, aunties, uncles and close friends.
FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Interview Your Children (and Illustrate Accordingly)
Here’s a chance to be a little sneaky and create a fun Christmas-morning surprise. Come up with ten to twenty questions for your kids, then interview them surreptitiously under the guise of some other endeavor. Print your questions on each page of a personalized photo book, then include the answers of each child in your family beneath. You can include some everyday questions like: Why does mommy love daddy? What is mommy’s job? What is daddy’s job? And you can include aspirational questions like: What will you be when you grow up? Why? What will an average day be like when you’re 30? Questions like that will be fun to get answers to now – and poignantly hilarious when they’re revisited…30 years from now. Priceless!
Secret Family Recipes
Ask everyone in the family to submit their favorite recipes – one that’s an old standby with lots of nostalgia attached, and one that represents their ideal meal today. Include the recipes, photographs, stories, anecdotes and quotes in a photo book that’s an ideal gift for everyone in the family from siblings, parents and grandparents to godparents, adopted aunties, in-laws and friends so close they feel like family.
FOR THE BESTIES
Book Club Redux
Make a photo book of pics from your beloved book group, including scans of all the books you read. Add book quotes, favorite quips, legendary lines from your favorite book-club banter and, of course, photographs from every wine- or dessert-fueled gathering. We love the warm, literary feel of the Vintage Everyday Book complete with a classic typewriter icon.
FOR THE KIDS
For little girls who love princesses and pink, and little boys who love superheroes and capes (…or vice versa, we don’t want to stereotype…), there’s nothing more awesome that seeing your young face framed with scrolling frames and crowns or masks and lightning bolts. Keep it simple and create eye-candy for years of dreaming – or add a personalized story to the pages for a custom fairy tale or comic book.
FOR THE BEST FRIEND
Whether you’re surprising your bestie with a beautiful wedding album with their actual wedding photos – or you’re creating an unauthorized account of the behind-the-scenes fun at the wedding, a photo book all about their big day is bound to be a winning gift.
FOR THE LOVES OF YOUR LIFE
An I-Love-You Book
Depending on the bounds of your love (or how long you’ve been together), you can create a shortish or tome-like book about all the things you love about your favorite human being. If you’re going big, we say choose a simple everyday photo book template like Mixbook’s Chalkboard Sayings, then start racking of the reasons. An impressive number might be 365 – one reason for every day of the year. If you can’t think of that many reasons – or you like to stick with broad strokes of affection – go with Mixbook’s Ten Reasons Why I Love You photo book template. A solid dozen or a few hundred – either way you go, you can’t lose.
FOR FRIENDS, FAR-FLUNG FAMILY MEMBERS & COLLEAGUES
There’s no one who doesn’t love personalized note cards. Choose a fun-loving or classic design, then input their name – or even a great photo. Every time your friend, family member and colleague has a note to jot, they’ll think of how thoughtful and personal it was to create custom stationery just for them. Plus, you might just get the good kind of mail again!
Happy Mixbooking! Happy Meaningful Gift-Giving!