Giving Gifts That Are Not Things

Giving Gifts That Are Not Things


Here at Bargainmoose, we give you a lot of information about great deals you can purchase, along with some freebies, although these are mostly rare. With the holidays approaching, many people are shopping for gifts to give, but so many times, most people don't need "things". I think about my kids with this one, who have more toys than I probably ever had my entire childhood. My son's birthday is also in December, so I'm constantly being asked for gift ideas for my children. A lot of the times, I don't even know what to say because they have everything, and if they don't, it is probably on my list to get for them.

What I'm considering now is giving them gifts that are not "things", gifts that provide them with experiences and memories, which I believe are the best gifts anyway. I'm sure as a child you had beloved toys, but do you remember all of the toys you had? There were probably many that barely made it out of box before they were in the donation bin. Similarly, as an adult, I am sometimes given gifts of things that I just don't care for. For example, I'm pretty natural when it comes to my beauty routine, so when I get gifts of bath products that I won't ever use, or scarves I won't ever wear, I don't know what to do with them. Here are some ideas for gifts you can get someone, that are not "things".


I think that travel is one of the most important experiences of our life (besides having kids and all that). Many people list travel as the number one thing they want to do before they die, but we spend all our money on things we think we need instead of saving for trips and then say that we don't have money to travel. I just got a little bonus from work and I was considering what to do with the money and it dawned on me, I'd like to save it for travelling. My husband would love a new TV, but do we need a TV? I'd love an iPad, but do I need another electronic device? I do and say often that I need a vacation! Obviously, giving travel as a teacher gift or to your cousin doesn't make sense because it is probably out of your budget, but consider travel gift cards. Many places offer them like Air Canada,  Sears, and Via Rail. If you know someone who is going to get gifts from a number of people (say your boss or teacher or even your Mom), if everyone chipped in and bought a travel gift card, that would take out a big chunk of that person's expense and might actually get them to commit to a trip they had been thinking about.

Spa & Wellness

Everyone needs a little pampering these days, man, woman or child. Treat your intended to a spa day, spa service or a little getaway. I would not be sad if my husband gave me all WaySpa gift cards for Christmas, because I know I could use them up quickly. Similarly, if he booked me a massage and told me he'd put the kids to bed, I'd be pretty excited. Besides spa dates, gifts of wellness like monthly passes to fitness clubs are a nice way of showing a person you care about their health. I personally would love a ten-class pass to my local hot yoga studio. I'd much prefer this over an electronic device.


Like I said above, memories are more important than things. There are a number of companies that offer experience packages that are unique and probably unforgettable, like driving an exotic car for a day, gourmet chocolate classes or even grizzly bear watching. Travel Zoo had a number of great deals listed with gifts experiences and Samba Days is a great resource for unique experiences. You don't necessarily have to go to a company to give someone a great experience, you could plan it all for yourself. Plan a picnic, a day on the slopes, flying lessons, cooking classes, whatever it is that you think your recipient would like.


One thing I've given to my kids and my husband are homemade coupons for various things. For my husband, I won't fill you in on all the details, but they are for experiences he might not normally get, but that he would like to get. Or they could be of the "no excuses" sort, like "get out of doing the dishes" or "get to sleep in even when it's not my turn". The kids ones could be similar like "stay up for a half an hour past bedtime", "be the first to pick the show", or "no chores today". They can also be for experiences like going to the playground or to a fun spot in your town, or even for ice cream. What's great about coupons is that they let the person be in charge of when they get the gift and when they want to use it. It lets your usual no turn to yes. These are also great for neighbours or friends, if you know they'll take advantage of them.


I love food. You could say I really do live to eat. When I know I'm going to a new city, I will research the crap out of every restaurant in that city until I find the best one. I hate eating sub-standard food, especially in restaurants. If I'm spending money for a babysitter to go out for dinner, that dinner better be amazing. I am not a McDonald's or Outback Steakhouse kind of girl. Now, that is just me, but I know that food is a favourite thing of many people. Food gifts can be in the form of restaurant gift cards, invitations for a dinner out on you, or it could be specialty items you've picked up. This is an especially great gift if you've travelled somewhere and rather than bringing back a key chain or fridge magnet, you could bring back a packaged specialty item from that region. I recently got some rock candy from the U.K. from an awesome person who surprised me with it after I told her my grandmother used to bring it back for me when I was little. That was a very special and yummy gift! You could also make your own food gift, and there are so many things you could make. You know Martha Stewart is the queen of making food gifts.

Scrapbooks/Memory Books/Journals

While these are technically things, all of them could hold a special meaning. I was a scrapbooker (although I haven't had time lately) and have made a number of scrapbooks as gifts. You don't have to be crafty or have all the fancy tools to make a scrapbook or memory book. You just need the photos or other mementos. My mother-in-law made my husband and his brothers a Webster family Christmas scrapbook, and she just used regular binders. Every year she'd give the next few years that she had worked on that year, up until the final year when she had it completed. Then, each year she gives a page or two from the last Christmas. It is really special.

Further to this, you could give a journal, filled with memories and thoughts straight from you. I would love to get something like this from my own mother about her life and would have loved to get it from deceased relatives before they died. I'm considering doing my own journal to my kids, which I did start when they were little, but going back to it as a nice memento for them when I am older or gone. It basically details how I feel about being a mother to them at different stages (like how tired I really was those first of many sleepless nights or how much I loved their toes). Your memory book also doesn't have to be about someone living, it could be about someone already passed. What a great gift for your father, to have a memory book put together by you about his own father? There are so many possibilities.

Now, if all these ideas fail to impress, remember, there is always booze. Wine is not technically a thing is it?

Bargainmoosers, what ideas do you have for gifts that are not things? Let me know in the comments below!

(banner image credit: kurohashi)


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