Unique Gift Ideas:A Guide for Creative Holiday Shopping 2021
Updated: Jan 31, 2022
Looking for unique gift ideas this holiday season? Whether you're shopping for a friend, family member or yourself, in this guide you'll find plenty of creative and fun options to choose from.
Christmas and Hanukkah gift shopping can be super-easy this year. Don't bother leaving home to shop. Nope. Don’t do it. Not this year. Stay right where you are - you can easily shop for everyone on your list, right from where you sit.
The name of the holiday shopping game this year is: SHOP EARLY. We’ve all heard it on the news: supplies are short, stores are under-staffed, products are stuck in ports and slower to get on the store shelves than ever before. So, what to do? Shop small. Shop local. SHOP NOW.
To make this year's shopping even easier, I’ve gathered unique gift ideas for you - present ideas for everyone, including kids, tweens, teenagers, moms, dads, wives, husbands, siblings, neighbors, boyfriends, girlfriends, in-laws, bosses, staff, etc… You’ll find options for new parents, newlyweds, home bodies, home owners, fitness enthusiasts, sports fans, athletes, boho chic fashion-forward friends, children, dog lovers and more. Let’s get to it!
Gifts for Sports Enthusiasts
Sports Wall Decor
Whether you’re gift-shopping for your baseball fan dad or teenager, golfing mom, football fanatic husband, son, sister, brother, boyfriend, father-in-law, daughter, co-worker, or bestie, you’ll find some great sports-related gift ideas here. Unique and budget-friendly, these are options you won’t see in any of the big-box stores:
Perfect for the sports fan’s home or office, choose from a variety of football, baseball, golf and soccer stadium wall art prints. Made from Marian Nixon’s colorful, whimsical watercolor, collage or digital paintings, these 11” x 17” prints are budget-friendly, and make terrific gifts for your favorite sports enthusiasts. Stadium print options include: Boston’s Fenway Park, Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field (home to Chicago’s White Sox), Lambeau Field, home to Wisconsin's Green Bay Packers, Miller Park - the Milwaukee Brewers' (old name) stadium, Cleveland’s Progressive Field, home to the Guardians (or do you still say "Indians"?), Golf’s legendary Augusta National, and Pasadena’s Rose Bowl stadium. Priced at $38.
Check out the website for more stadium art poster options:
For the Health Enthusiast
Give a Gift of Yoga & Meditation Classes
Going live in October 2021, online yoga and meditation classes. Affordable, and in the comfort of your own home, these classes make terrific gifts for anyone looking to improve their physical and mental health. Your instructor, Gail Hutchison, has been teaching yoga and meditation for more than 20 years. Yoga is an all-around fabulous way to strengthen and tone your body - and your mind. Meditation can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity, and promote joy (which is Gail’s middle name, by the way. For real!). Customized workshops and Healing Circles are available - terrific gift options for office staff, families, sports teams. Also, coming soon: The Joy Mat, a three-in-one yoga set that encompasses a traditional exercise mat, a blanket or towel, strap, and a bag - no need to schlepp all of these items separately! For pricing, information, see website.
For more information and to shop, check out
Ornaments: Personalized Gifts For New Parents & Newlyweds
Commemorate a baby's first Christmas or celebrate a couple’s first holiday as an engaged or married couple with hand-painted, personalized glass Christmas tree ornaments. Thelma Hamilton’s heirloom ornaments are perfect Christmas gifts. As these are one-of-a-kind, you can be certain your gift-recipient doesn’t already have one! Prices start at $25. These are available in Thelma’s Amazon shop:
Personalized Notecard Sets:
Give the Christmas or Hanukkah gift that literally keeps on giving: personalized notecard sets. Your gift recipient will be thrilled to receive this thoughtful gift, and they in turn will spread joy by sending hand-written cards to their loved ones. Everyone remembers the last time they received a piece of personal mail - it’s practically a special occasion on the rare days it happens! These also make beautiful birth or wedding announcements, invitations and thank you cards. Custom, hand-painted flat cards and envelopes come in sets of 16, and are priced at $45.
Accessories For the Fashion-Forward Woman
(Who Already Has Everything)
Scarves & Necklaces
Gorgeous scarves designed by Jennifer Orkin Lewis. Beautifully printed, soft, luscious scarves created from Jennifer's original abstract and floral watercolor paintings. These are digitally printed on 77% cotton/23% silk and maintain all the nuances of her colorful painting. They make a beautiful and stylish finish to any outfit. Light breezy and airy, you can wear them as a scarf, a wrap, a beach skirt cover up. Wearable art! Regularly priced at $88, these are on sale for $65. Shop and see and more of Jennifer’s gorgeous work here:
Handmade wood circle necklaces are one-of-a-kind pieces of rustic jewelry. One size fits all, they slip over your head and will turn a plain old t-shirt or sweater into an outfit. They come in double ($38) and triple ($46) circles. The perfect gift for your sister, in-law, mom and best friend. Limited quantities available, so for real - shop early for these! (Psst! The necklaces are all on sale - 25% off! Don't forget - one for her, one for you!)
Gifts for the Cooks, Chefs and Entertainers
Lucinda Wei designed this wooden spoon and kitchen towel set - a stylish and functional gift for those who enjoy spending time in the kitchen. The Happiness Kitchen Towel and Utensil Set features a unique design, heirloom quality and sentiment that reads, "Happiness is homemade." Mango wood utensil is paired with a cotton-linen towel featuring a convenient twill loop for hanging. Priced at $23.75.
This gift set consists of a soup bowl and a bowl cozy, also designed by Lucinda Wei. The bowl cozy is uniquely shaped to hold any size bowl. The cozy will snuggle and hug your bowl while protecting your hands from the heat of the bowl. This makes a wonderful kitchen gift for a new homeowner or college student who “cooks” meals in the microwave. Priced at $31.
This Floral Appetizer Tray with Spatula makes a perfect Hanukkah or Christmas gift. Bring one as a hostess or host gift to your holiday parties - so much better than the typical bottle of wine! The ceramic plate comes with a wooden bamboo utensil - perfect for appetizer serving. The stoneware tray also works great as a condiment tray. Hand-textured with floral artwork by Lucinda Wei. Any cook or baking enthusiast will enjoy this gift. Priced at $27.
Beautiful handmade ceramic serving platters by Diane Sullivan. Textured serving platter/cheese board. These oval-shaped serving boards are beautifully hand-textured with one of Diane's original designs. Add elegance and interest to serving hors d'oeuvres. Approximately 13" in length, dishwasher safe (but hand washing is recommended). Goes with any home decor, and comes paired with a wooden serving knife. Priced at $72.
Gifts For Dog Lovers
Statement pieces for the feet! Dog artwork by Marian Nixon, these casual gym shoes are available in a variety of designs, from outright party patterns to more subtle, abstract designs. Priced at $65. See more men’s and women’s shoe designs options at
T-shirts & Hoodies
Can anyone ever have too many? Starting at $20, these affordable options for dog-lovers will be a hit for your favorite dog-loving people - sized to fit babies, kids and grown-ups. Available long-sleeved, short-sleeved, tank tops, performance fabric, with a wide variety of dog breeds and mixes - including Pugs, French Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Pitbulls, Labradoodles, Bernedoodles, and more. Check them all out here:
Personalized pet portraits
Dog owners love these personalized dog portraits! Unique dog illustrations with an option to customize with a “dog tag” to include your favorite pup’s name. These are sized at 8.5" x 11" to fit into a standard-sized frame. Available in a wide variety of breeds and mixes, they come unframed. $35. https://www.mariannixon.com/personalized-handmade-gifts/
Gifts for the New Homeowner
Wall and Door Signs
These whimsical signs are a colorful way to welcome visitors to a home. They look great hanging on the front door, in the bar, in the kitchen, or the entryway/foyer. Fabulous gifts for use in the man cave, outdoor kitchen or patio, family room, front door, etc... Made of PVC, they are lightweight and weather-resistant, and arrive ready to hang. (Note: if hanging outdoors, limit direct sunlight as colors will fade over time). Available in 2 sizes: 11" x 14" rectangle or 13" round.
Wall and Door Signs are $48. Find many design options here:
Doormats and Floor Mats
Fabulous gifts! Whether they live in a dorm, home, condo or loft space, a colorful doormat adds color and personality to a front porch, foyer, bathroom or kitchen. Choose a festive holiday doormat, or a general welcome design. For use outdoors or indoors. Available in 2 sizes, 18" x 24" or 24" x 36", these make fabulous host or hostess gifts. Perfect for the new homeowner, college student, or neighbor gift. Doormats and Floor Mats are priced at $44 and $54. To shop or see more design options, click https://www.mariannixon.com/indoor-outdoor-decor/
Garden, Yard and House Flags
Available in dozens of designs with a variety of messages, including "Peace", "Welcome", "Merry Christmas", "Happy Hanukkah", "Let it Snow", "All Are Welcome Here" and many more. Flags look great in the yard, garden, on the front porch, on your door, in the window, or on the wall inside. Suitable for year-round use (but limiting direct sunlight will keep colors from fading). Available in 12" x 18" for the garden or yard, or the larger 27" x 40" to hang from the front porch. College students love these for wall decor too! Flags starts at $30. See more options here:
City Skyline Art Prints
City skyline and beach art prints are perfect man cave, office, home or dorm room decor. 11” x17” prints are $38. They arrive unframed - ready to place into a frame that suits individual decor tastes. Great holiday gifts for those who have moved to or from their favorite cities. Choose from a variety of illustrations of New York City, Milwaukee, Chicago Skyline and Beaches, Houston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Sanibel Island.
City Art Prints are $38, and come unframed.
Gifts For Readers & Book Lovers
When holiday shopping for your favorite readers, consider browsing at Madison Street Books. Proudly woman-owned, this independent bookstore is located in Chicago's West Loop. The shop’s focus and vision is to be a community-minded space with something in store for everyone. If you don’t live near enough to visit in person, shopping online is the next best thing. (As an aside, this shop opened in March of 2020. Literally 2 days after opening, owner Mary Mollman was forced to shut the doors due to the stay-at-home order.) So, if you're looking for great books while supporting a small, woman-owned business, check out Mary’s shop here:
Gifts For Artists or Writers
To inspire and promote creativity in kids AND adults, give them monogrammed blank sketchbooks. If your child is old enough to hold a crayon, encourage them to draw! And contrary to what many think, you are NEVER too old to draw! Also terrific to use as journals, calendars and diaries. Each letter of the alphabet comes in 2 different designs - choose from graphic, or floral. At $9 each, they make a very budget-friendly Hanukkah gift or stocking stuffer. These make fabulous teacher and staff gifts too.
Cozy Gift Options for College Students
Fleece and Sherpa Blankets
Whether your favorite students are at school where it’s snowing, or under palm trees, they can all can use a cozy blanket. Perfect for studying, cuddling up in front of the television, taking to the fall football game, or everyone’s favorite hobby: napping. Whoops, I mean studying! Choose from Fleece or Sherpa. Prices start at $29.95.
Small Gift Idea
Stocking Stuffers and Hanukkah Gifts
Eco Friendly Natural Lip Balm in Reusable Tins: perfectly sized for stocking stuffers and Hanukkah presents! Bursting with natural ingredients, Adriana Compagnoni’s handcrafted natural lip balm is soothing, emollient and humectant. It is the perfect natural solution for dry lips. What makes this lip balm unique is it’s made with beeswax from her very own backyard bees. Adriana's bees enjoy a natural environment surrounded by centenary trees, in a pesticide-free home. These balms are chemical-free, soy-free, corn-free, preservative-free and paraben-free. The natural beeswax lip balm is not tested on animals, and it's 100% vegetarian. Prices start at $7. To shop and learn more, click here:
I hope you've been inspired by these ideas. One final note before you set off to shop: Only after I wrote this article did I realize that not only do these gift suggestions come from small businesses, but they are also all WOMAN-OWNED. This wasn't intentional, but sometimes the best things aren't!
So, if you're looking to shop small, and support women-owned businesses, you just happen to be in the right place. Enjoy!