The holidays are around the corner and it’s a time of gift giving. However, these are not ordinary times and there are several reasons why giving material gifts as in previous years would be unsuitable this season. 

With many businesses struggling and people’s finances in a crunch, it’s a good idea to look at alternatives to traditional gifts. 

It’s still important to make a gesture and simply be there for friends and family. And we’ll look at alternative ways that you can do this. Here are some alternative gift ideas that are thoughtful and can also improve the wellbeing of the people you care about.

Online courses

A gift that keeps on giving is one of education. There are many online platforms available today that make it possible for people to learn anything they want online. 

You can gift a person a year long subscription to a learning platform or buy a few specific courses for them in areas of their interest. It’s important to look at each platform and course and understand how they should be worked with. Some platforms give you lifetime access to a specific type of content while others are available only when you subscribe to them monthly. And there are some courses that are available only from one specific date to another. 

So, look at the time your loved one has available, their skill level, hobbies, and other details and offer them an online course as a gift. It’s a way for them to grow their skills during an uncertain financial market and can lead to positive changes. 

Charitable works

One way to give a gift that’s meaningful and speaks to the holiday spirit is to do something that’s charitable. 

There are options where you can adopt an endangered animal, support families in other countries, or donate to local non-profit organizations. And you can discuss doing some form of charitable work or contribution with your friends and family before the holidays come up.

You can make this a shared experience or make a simple donation in the other person’s name. Many people have causes that are close to their hearts and have special meaning for them. Try to learn what this is and if you can contribute to such a cause then this gift becomes all the more special. 

An investment option

A small sum of money that’s allowed to grow over a long period of time can turn into a useful fund for the future. It’s not a gift that the recipient can benefit from right away but it can provide a sense of security. 

You can use the same amount of money you would put in a material gift that typically gets consumed and forgotten very quickly. However, with an investment option like government bonds or mutual funds, the benefits will accrue over the years and become a source of relief during hard times in the future

Acts of service

The book The Five Love Languages has profoundly changed how people interact with each other and express themselves. For the holidays, doing acts of service is fitting and can make your loved ones truly happy. 

Consider creating a small coupon book which can be exchanged for acts of service. Or offer to do something simple for friends and families. Overworked mothers would appreciate offers to babysit so that they can practice some self-care. If you know someone who doesn’t like to cook, then you can offer to make dinners for them. 

This is a highly personal gift, so give it to the right people and make sure that you also practice self-care for yourself too.  


Holidays are a time for gift giving. But gifts don’t have to be material objects all the time. And material presents won’t suit everybody especially since we’re still working through the effects of the pandemic. 

We’ve looked at several alternative ideas for traditional gifts to give to loved ones. Aside from the ones mentioned here, you can also create works of art, do crafts, play music, and come up with your own ideas for gifts. 

Thoughtfulness and care are what make gifts special. With a little preparation and with the right intentions, you can make your holiday gifting the best it’s ever been.