Gift Guide: 5 Ideas for Making Gifts More Meaningful

For years and years, my parents have gifted me “fun” socks. Bright colors, cats, Santa hats. Fun socks are a staple on birthdays and Christmas because my parents know they make me happy.

My mom and dad have always given the most thoughtful gifts. When I was 16, I received a necklace that belonged to GG, my great grandmother. The highlight of my 19th birthday was unwrapping a monogrammed bath towel that every sorority girl just had to have. My parents always got it right. Their sincere approach to giving gifts made opening and using them that much more memorable.

I love giving gifts. And more and more it’s become my language for expressing love. I dig the process of finding something that matches the moment and makes the recipient feel special. This, to me, is a great display of love.

With the holidays at our heels, here is a gift guide with five ways to approach gifting in a more meaningful way. Cheers!

1. Consider life changes.
Is the recipient moving? Are they switching career paths? Did they join a new gym? Think about life changes big and small, and then a gift to celebrate or support it. Last year my cousin decided to pursue graduate school. Around the time of my wedding, she hadn’t decided where in the country she was headed. So, for a bridesmaid gift, I put together a bundle that would be useful and encouraging anywhere.

See the Sparks | Gift Guide“Oh The Places You’ll Go” Collage (MiaHague on Etsy, $12.35+)
Anywhere Travel Guide: 75 Cards for Discovering the Unexpected, Wherever Your Journey Leads (Amazon, $12.64)
Nicole Miller NY Luggage Sedona Wheeled City Bag (eBags, $49.99)
Pajama Set (Gap)

2. Listen for new interests.
Keep your ears open for what’s piquing the recipient’s curiosity. My friend and I recently went on a window-shopping trip, and she surprised me when she asked to pop into an essential oils store. We spent the next 30 minutes sniffing, sampling and talking about her new interest in essential oils. She mentioned she wanted to learn about using them for homemade beauty and cleaning products. With her birthday around the corner, I hopped online to piece together a starter kit.

Essential Oils: All-Natural Remedies and Recipes for Your Mind, Body and Home (Amazon, $13.56)
Glass Spray Bottles (Amazon, $10)
Lime Pure Essential Oil (Amazon, $10.94)

3. Take a peek at the photos they post.
Have a look (ahem, stalk) the recipient’s social media for photos. Are there snaps with similar themes? My friend shares tons of photos on Facebook, so I scrolled through her timeline looking for a frame-worthy bridesmaid gift. On Father’s Day 2015 (yep, it got deep), she posted a photo of her pint-sized self and her dad. The caption says it’s one of her favorites. I saved the photo and kept scrolling. Then I stumbled on a photo of my friend’s pint-sized son and her dad. With such a similar setting and pose, I thought the photos would look great side by side. I highly recommend custom framing at Michaels! It’s great quality, quick and costs less than other stores (thanks to coupons).See the Sparks | Gift Guide

4. Recall their traditions.
What does the recipient do without fail every week, month or year? My 21-year-old cousin loves music, festivals and going to Lollapalooza every year. So, I put together a bundle to help her keep it going.

Ticketmaster Gift Card
Kylie Matte Lip Kit (, $29)
Instax Mini Monochrome Film (Amazon, $12.33)

5. Last up in this gift guide, replicate something meaningful they’ve gifted you.
What has the recipient given you that you really value? When I was 13, my antique-collector dad gave me a 19th century pocket watch engraved with “Love Always, Dad”. I’ve treasured the piece since then and have always looked forward to returning the favor as a wedding gift. I scoured eBay and eventually found one in a similar style. Bonus: it had been engraved with an eerily similar message: “To Josephine Payne from Father on her 15th birthday.” I engraved the other side with a personal message, and gave it to Dad on my wedding day.

Loved you yesterday
Love you still
Always have, always will.


Did you find this gift guide helpful? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve given or received? Share in the comments below!

Pocket watch photos by the fabulous Melissa Marie Photography.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s