Earlier this month, on Instagram I asked for you to share the most meaningful gifts you’ve ever been given or ones you’ve thoughtfully put together for someone you love. I quickly scrolled through some of the answers as they were coming in, but then tucked the rest away knowing I’d return to them when I put this post together. I woke up early this morning as I always do, lit my candle, poured my coffee and finally pulled up that old post to collect the answers to share. What I didn’t expect were the tears, overwhelmed by the amount of love and thoughtfulness in all these precious gifts and the reminder that during this time of credit card-swiping gift giving, what we all really want is moments and words and reminders that we are seen and loved. We want one more hug with our grandpa who is no longer with us, we want our kids to tell us they remember the memories we made for them, and we want a recipe card with our grandma’s famous streusel coffee cake, written in her own handwriting, so we can hold our memories of her in our kitchen every time we bake it. Experiences, moments and stories trump anything you can “add to cart,” and these ideas you’ve shared prove it.
And, dear God, do some of you have the most thoughtful husbands/parents/siblings! Brett and I were dying reading some of the precious significant other gifts you shared. “Just so you know,” I told Brett, “Those salt and pepper shakers you got me last year just got their ass kicked so hard. I’d like you to meet the winner–‘100 reasons why I love you’ written on a scroll and tied with a ribbon. GOOD NIGHT.” For the record, gift giving is not his love language, and I am okay with it. Plus, those salt and pepper shakers are pretty cute.
I’ve taken several of the ideas you shared and am making them a part of our gift giving this year. I hope you are inspired as much as I was. There’s no way I could have compiled all the answers you shared, but I tried to pull as many as I could into one post. And to add a little visual festive to this post, I dug into the holiday archives which always hurts so good. Like this one, by far the most meaningful gift Nella has ever received…
The most meaningful gifts you’ve received and given…
My sister and I filled a huge jar with 356 “remember whens” for my parents. They still do one strip a day.
My sister-in-law had a dress shirt of my dad’s turned into a skirt for my daughter.
A cutting board engraved with a favorite recipe in my late mom’s handwriting.
A set of cufflinks with the GPS coordinates of the location of our first kiss.
My mother-in-law hand wrote her favorite (and my husband’s) recipes for me.
What I really want from my husband this year is free: a Spotify playlist of songs that make him think of me.
The gift of a workshop/class/experience (Doe Bay writing retreat).
A wallet from my husband filled with gift cards from all my favorite stores and services.
Every year my mom renews my kids zoo and science museum memberships.
Handwritten letters from my children.
My husband gave me a picture a local artist did of the place where we got engaged–and he got her to sign it.
Personalized address stamp.
My daddy’s typewriter restored.
Watercolor piece done of my in-laws’ home where they’ve lived their entire married lives.
A necklace with my grandmother’s handwriting (she’s passed).
A collection of family recipes in a bound book.
A CD with a photo slideshow of the pictures from the year, set to a meaningful song from the year.
A recipe box full of my favorite family meals.
A gift with our baby’s name. She is in heaven. She is recognized.
Hand painted ornaments of my childhood home (by Cindy Thurston on Etsy).
I recently fell and dislocated my shoulder in the shower. My friend got me a shower mat.
“Open when” letters.
A sign with a family quote written in my grandma’s handwriting after she died.
A Build-a-Bear dressed as a soldier with a personal message, from my deployed brother.
The year Lainey drew a picture for Nella, and we turned it into a dress for her.
A framed photo of when my grandparents were married.
A painting of my favorite mountain.
A box of the most iconic goods from where we live and where my siblings live (coffees, alcohol, cheeses, etc.).
Dinner out with my adult children, no kids.
Tickets to a musical with babysitting provided.
A knit stocking for my daughter to match the one made for me when I was born.
My husband made me a comic book about my first 5 months being a mom.
A door knocker for our forever home (someday I’ll hang it).
100 Reasons Why I Love You, printed on a scroll and tied with a ribbon.
Grandpa’s old robes monogrammed for my nephews.
A denim tote bag with pins of all my favorite TV shows and bands.
I gifted my dad a keychain with the latitude and longitude of my sibling’s and my locations.
Cassette tapes that my grandfather recorded his life’s story on. Priceless.
A night at a hotel all by myself with the only task being to relax!
An ornament my mom soldered (she took classes). She’s always learning something new.
Framed prints of the ship our great grandparents came over from Italy on to my siblings.
A Winnie the Pooh book published 10/14/26. My best friend gave me a copy for my son’s birth 10/14/18.
My mother-in-law had an article that I wrote for the city newspaper framed.
A music box that plays our wedding song.
A recent favorite–tap shoes and payment for a 12-week class. #firsttimer #adultdancer
A print of a painting that was once mentioned…and remembered.
My dad photocopied every journal entry he wrote about me from my birth on, and made me a book.
A picture of the stars from where we live the night my daughter was born.
It’s small, but my sister had a keychain made with a penny from 2017, and it says “boy mama”–my fave.
My grandma who taught me how to sew gave me a box full of fabric leftover from her favorite dresses. I still have some of those scraps in my collection and will put them into quilts for my kids.
After my mother died, my aunt bought me a bottle of the perfume she always wore.
Stockings made from old sweaters of grandma’s.
Storyworth which came to us via you! We’ve passed this around all our family, and it is so meaningful.
A handmade crib for my first born, made by my big brother.
A framed recipe card from my great-grandma with one of my favorite foods.
One year my aunt compiled old VHS family videos onto DVDs for the whole family.
Silhouette profile pictures of my children! My husband also made them for his parents.
A bangle with my children’s name and DOBs stamped on it.
My husband built me a jewelry box. Got it one year unfinished. Next year with jewelry.
A round trip ticket to visit my best friend.
Alright, what did we miss on this list? To this day, one of my favorite gifts (I gave it to myself) is my keepsake quilt made from squares cut from my maternity jeans and the most memorable baby clothes from all three of my kids. It’s from Vintage Giggles, and this year I had the honor of giving a quilt–one I had made from my ties worn my by mother-in-law’s father who passed away early this year. It’s one of my favorite gift giving moments ever. What are your most favorite gift giving moments or meaningful things or experiences you’ve received?