Christmas will be here before you know it! And while the holiday season brings joy and togetherness, it also brings with it a fair amount of stress.
Take gift-giving. It’s an essential part of the holidays for most families, and yet, it can feel incredibly difficult to pick out gifts that people will genuinely enjoy.
It’s even trickier when buying gifts for friends who likely have different tastes and preferences than you. How do you find amazing and unique Christmas gifts for friends?
It starts by thinking outside the box.
Your friends don’t need another pair of holiday-themed socks or another ugly sweater! Unique gifts will have the most impact and inspire the most joy.
The clock is ticking on this holiday shopping season. Thankfully, this article will help you find the perfect gifts for your BFFs.
We’ll start with some unique gift ideas that are sure to surprise your friends (in a good way!) — followed by several popular gifts that are sure to please everyone.
Thoughtful & Unique Gifts for Friends
Sometimes, finding a thoughtful gift requires thinking outside the box. This section covers some unique gifts that you can give your friends this holiday season.
Investments for their children’s future
If your friends have children, a monetary gift toward their children’s financial futures can be the perfect gift and have an impact both on your friends and their children.
One of the best ways to invest in a child’s future is to use EarlyBird. EarlyBird makes it simple for parents, friends, and family to collectively invest toward a child’s future. Here’s how it works:
- A parent, guardian, or other loved one sets up an EarlyBird account
- The account is in the child’s name, with the adult as the custodian
- Anyone can contribute money to the account and send fun video messages along with their gifts
- The money is invested and grows over time
- When the child becomes a legal adult, they are given full control of the account and its funds
EarlyBird funds can be used for a college education, to start a new business, to take a round-the-world trip, or for any other purpose. And because funds are invested, even a relatively small gift can grow into a substantial amount of money by the time the child turns 18.
You can also talk to the parents to see if they have an existing college fund or other savings account set up for their child.
Along with the financial gift, you can also give the kid a piggy bank, such as the Benjamin Talks Benji Bank, so they can start learning financial principles and saving themselves.
Whether it’s sending money through EarlyBird, adding funds to an existing college fund, purchasing a savings bond, or buying a physical piggy bank (and adding some funds), your friends are sure to appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity.
Research suggests that we get more long-lasting happiness from our experiences than our physical possessions. If you want to give a unique holiday gift, finding a fun experience for your friends is a great option.
This will usually take the form of a gift card or prepaid rental. It could also be a shared experience that you enjoy together with your friends.
The specific experience depends on what your friends are interested in, but some ideas include:
- A multi-course meal at a fancy restaurant
- Tickets to a local show
- Cooking classes
- Equipment rental for outdoor activities like skiing or backpacking
- An organized tour or experience in your area
- An Airbnb experience
- A pottery or painting class in your area
The best experiential gift really depends on what your friend is interested in, so try and pick something that you think they’d enjoy doing as opposed to what just sounds fun to you.
What about giving the gift of knowledge? Online or in-person classes present a great way to foster a sense of lifelong learning while also exploring interesting new topics or hobbies.
Gifting classes could take a few different forms, depending on your friend’s interests. Here are some ideas:
- Cooking classes with a local restaurant
- Pottery, painting, or art classes with a local studio
- Hobby classes in your area (archery, horseback riding, etc.)
- Continuing education classes at a local community college
You could also choose to gift a subscription to an online learning platform:
- MasterClass offers 100+ classes taught by experts like Gordon Ramsey (cooking), Neil deGrasse Tyson (science), Neil Gaiman (storytelling), and many more.
- SkillShare offers hundreds of courses in categories including photography, design, animation, business, writing, and more.
- Udemy has a massive selection of over 183,000 courses with categories including marketing, business, coding, personal development, lifestyle, and more.
What do you give to the friend who seems to have everything — or to the minimalist friend who doesn't want any more possessions?
One unique idea is to make a donation in your friend’s name.
Find a nonprofit working to support a cause that your friend believes in and make a financial donation to the charity. Often, you can make the donation in your friend’s name but pay for it with your own funds.
It might not seem like a conventional “gift,” but one of the most impactful things you can “give” to friends is your own time. This is especially true if your friends are busy with life’s responsibilities, kids, etc.
What does gifting your own time actually look like?
It could be offering to babysit so that your friends can go out for a date night.
It could be offering to cook homemade meals for a week when you know your friends have a lot going on.
Or it could be offering to help out on a home improvement project, garden re-do, etc.
While you can’t exactly wrap your own time and put it under the tree, you can write a thoughtful card to your friends offering your help. If they’re as busy as most of us are, they will genuinely appreciate the gesture.
DIY Christmas gifts are quite meaningful because they take many hours of your own time to create. If you want to make a thoughtful gesture this holiday season, taking the time to create handmade gifts is a great idea.
And it doesn’t have to be another ugly sweater that your friends probably won’t wear.
The gift could be a home-cooked meal, home decor, a delicious homemade pie, homemade candles, bath bombs, handmade skincare products, custom Christmas ornaments, or another creative idea.
Popular Christmas Gift Ideas for Friends
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to good Christmas gifts for friends. With that said, there are a handful of gifts that are quite likely to be enjoyed by almost anyone.
If none of the above gifts suited you, you might find something on this list of popular Christmas gifts for friends.
Did you know that Americans consumed over one billion gallons of wine in 2020? That’s over three gallons per person, per year. Most households enjoy wine, and it makes for a simple, crowd-pleasing gift.
Here are some ideas for wine gifts:
- Shop at an online wine merchant like Winc or Wine.com (most merchants also offer gift cards)
- Purchase a gift subscription to a wine club like Martha Stewart Wine Co or Bright Cellars
- Shop at your local wine merchant to support a small local business
- Get together with friends and throw a holiday wine tasting party
Coffee is even more popular than wine, with 62% of Americans sipping down at least one cup every day. Most coffee drinkers would be happy to have some new gear to up their coffee-brewing game.
Here are some ideas for coffee gifts for friends:
- A burr coffee grinder (freshly ground beans have a richer flavor than pre-ground coffee)
- A milk frother to make lattes and cappuccinos at home
- An Aeropress coffee maker to make coffee and espresso while traveling, camping, etc.
- An espresso machine to make barista-quality coffee drinks at home
It’s winter, so you’re probably not thinking about grilling outdoors. But for the cook friends in your life, some upgraded grillin’ gear is always appreciated.
Bonus: You may even find grilling equipment on sale during the holiday season because it’s most in-demand come spring and summer.
Here are some grilling gear gift ideas:
- A high-end instant-read food thermometer for perfect steak every time
- A silicone basting brush for basting meat (also helpful for your pastry baker friends!)
- A pair of heat-resistant grilling gloves to protect from BBQ mishaps
- A BBQ basket for cooking vegetables on the grill
Gift cards are the ultimate practical Christmas gift for friends — and also probably the only type of gift that is never returned! To avoid an overly generic gift, try to tailor the gift card to the interests of your friends.
Here are some gift card ideas:
- Gift cards to local restaurants for the foodies in your life
- Gift cards to Lowes or Home Depot for the do-it-yourselfers in your life
- Gift cards to Amazon for, well… everyone in your life
- Multi-store gift cards for when you can’t decide
Chocolate & sweets
Most people love chocolate and treats, particularly over the holiday season. However, most of us get a lot of sweets as gifts — so to stand out, try to pick something a bit more unique.
Here are some ideas for sweet gifts for friends:
- A chocolate subscription box like Kekao or Fine Chocolate Club
- A custom treat basket with fresh-baked pastries, chocolates, or other treats from local businesses
- Candy or treats from another country — try Candy Warehouse or World of Snacks
- Homemade treats or candy from your own kitchen
Personalized gifts from Etsy
Etsy is a gold mine if you’re looking for a unique Christmas gift idea for your BFF. From art to jewelry to charcuterie boards, you can find just about anything on the site — much of which is handmade. And for an even more personal spin, consider a personalized gift with your friend’s name.
Here are some ideas for personalized gifts on Etsy:
- A personalized apron with your friend’s name
- A custom pet portrait with your friend’s beloved pet
- A monogrammed old-fashioned glassware set or coffee mug with your friend’s initials
- A personalized wallet or purse with your friend’s initials or name
Gift baskets or gift sets
Gift baskets are kind of like stockings for adults. These fun grab-bags offer a variety of smaller gifts, which together make up a delightful Christmas present for friends. Most gift baskets have some sort of theme — and you can either make your own or purchase a premade option from a retailer.
Here are some ideas for gift baskets for friends:
- Buy a premade food-themed gift basket from Harry & David or Olympia Provisions
- Buy a tea-themed gift basket from Etsy or Wissotzky Tea
- Buy a premade gift basket from your favorite local retailer or specialty store
- Make your own gift basket from local vendors at the Farmer’s Market, local bakeries, and local specialty stores
Finding Christmas gifts for friends can be tricky, but hopefully, you now have some helpful ideas to get you started.
When in doubt, go with something practical. Nobody ever returned an Amazon gift card!
And for those friends who seem to have it all (or your minimalist friends who just don’t want any more stuff), try to think outside the box.
A thoughtful gift of your own time, a handmade item, or a shared fun experience can bring true joy and can go a long way toward strengthening your most important friendships.
Finally, remember to shop early! With delays and supply chain disruptions, it’s sure to be a hectic holiday shopping season this year.
Want to learn more about giving great gifts? Head to the EarlyBird blog to find out more, or start with our complete guide to gift-giving.
This page contains general information and does not contain financial advice. All investments involve risk. Any hypothetical performance shown is for illustrative purposes only. Actual investment performance may be different for many reasons, including, but not limited to, market fluctuations, time horizon, taxes, and fees. Please consult a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional for investment guidance.