The Anti-Gift Holiday Gift Guide

The Anti-Gift Holiday Gift Guide

By Jennifer Nguyen

It’s that time of the year again. If you’re an excessive planner like us, you’re creating your lists (and checking it twice) or scrolling through last year’s #BlackFriday hauls on TikTok—all in the name of finding the perfect present. But what if we told you that the gift you’re searching for isn’t found in Home Depot’s aisles, scrolling through Zara’s women's section, or subscribing to Le Creuset's newsletter? 

Taking inspiration from the deinfluencing movement, we’re coming to you with a guide of thoughtful gift ideas, like a unique experience or a product that gives back, that won’t just collect dust on a shelf. Don’t worry, we won’t tell them we helped ya out.

Instead of a $200 night cream… a gift certificate to a local, woman-owned spa

A skincare regimen is very personal. Take the guesswork out of it by gifting the beauty fanatic in your life a spa day. Don’t know where to start? Look into spots that provide the latest wellness trends like Lymphatic Drain Massage and Red Light Therapy Facial, or play it safe by gifting them a mani and pedi day. They’re relaxed already.

Instead of a pricy bottle of champagne… a culinary experience

What’s more impressive than a bottle of Veuve? Knowing that your aunt probably values one-on-one time with you instead. So, gift them an activity instead. From immersive experiences like watching Pixar’s Ratatouille while feasting on dishes from the film, to interactive lessons where you make your own wine, give the gift of a new memory that leaves even your tastebuds saying “thank you.”

Instead of a trendy purse… a bag that does it all 

You’d be lying if you said that the Sandy Liang x Baggu Holiday release didn’t pique your interest, but we know that it will be a rare reach once the red trend starts to simmer down. How about getting your giftee that big-girl investment bag that will stay with them for years to come? Our personal favorites are this one from Monos. It’s the perfect travel bag that doubles as an office or school bag. Or perhaps you’re shopping with a fashionista in mind… how about this sleek (but roomy) alternative to a backpack from Coach? The best part about these purchases? You can feel good about ‘em as both give back: Monos is a member of 1% for the Planet and Coach gives $65M (and counting!) to nonprofits for underrepresented youth. Dang, the bag really does it all.

Instead of makeup that’s not their shade… a customized beauty experience

The worst thing about gifting lipstick? You kind of need to try it on to see if it’s the right shade. And then if it isn’t, it goes to the back of your bathroom cabinet, never to be seen again. Treat your giftee to a IRL custom beauty experience like Lip Lab’s, where you’re able to make your very own lip product! Personalize the shade, scent, finish, tube and color, and top it off with an engraving! Now that's a product you’ll definitely use in full. If your giftee is not a lipstick wearer, look into Olfactory’s perfume-making experience or online alternatives like Function of Beauty’s custom hair products.

Instead of an Amazon gift card… a gift card to a local business

Sure, an Amazon gift card is a safe bet (especially in a last-minute panic), but nothing screams “I put some thought into this” than treating your eccentric niece with a gift that’s just as unique as her! Think of gifting the adventurer in your life with a voucher for a luxurious camping vacation. Or the “work smart not” hard’ techie to an AI service that will apply for jobs on their behalf. Or even getting the coffee lover a “cafe passport” that helps them find their next go-to spot while supporting local businesses. So not generic.

Instead of niche pantry items… a unique food box

Move over, Home Goods truffle olive oil! Encourage the foodie in your life to branch out of their cooking routine by gifting them a subscription box with a range of new products. We’re loving  this advent box filled with natural wines. Or this meal subscription box that donates seven meals for every month subscribed. 

Instead of a matching workout set… a ClassPass membership that will please the pickiest of giftees

Let’s be real: your athletic friend already has the perfect leggings that won't fall down while on the elliptical. That’s why you can’t go wrong with a ClassPass membership, which gives you access to discounted workout classes, from a bougie yoga class or a hot pilates session. Plans start at $39 for 18 credits and recur on a monthly basis, which gives you the opportunity to one-up Santa and be the gift that keeps on giving.

Instead of a book they’ll only read the first five pages of… an online news subscription

Remember way back in the day when the best thing your mom would get you was a year-long subscription to Seventeen magazine? Well, this is the modern-day, grown-up equivalent. Get your morning newspaper, your lunch break tabloid and your evening bathtime fashion read in one place and in the palm of your hand with an Apple News subscription. Hot girls read!

Instead of a stress ball… a mindfulness app

Ok, maybe you’re not actually getting them a stress ball for Christmas, but a mindfulness journal that will eventually get tucked away in a bedside drawer is not any better. Instead, buy your wellness-forward work colleague a subscription to digital apps like Calm, Othership and Headspace. These apps include features like sleep meditation audios, breathwork guidance, and mindfulness activities, which will help the person you got for Secret Santa feeling totally cool and collected before their next meeting.

Instead of a drugstore advent calendar… one that gives back

We’ve seen it all. Bougie boxes counting down the days until Christmas with tiny makeup samples, or chocolate calendars filled with stale sweets you won’t eat. Swap out the unnecessary holiday feature for one that will make an impact like the 24 Good Deeds advent calendar or Advents of Change. These advent calendars focus on a variety of philanthropic organizations and give back to the community by funding education for marginalized communities or supporting new mothers and pregnant women through the baby lifeline… the list goes on! The holiday season never felt so good.

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