nonfood gifts for loved ones?
June 1, 2011 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Please share your non-food gift ideas that are just little "thinking-of-you" gifts.

I am the kind of mom/partner/friend/coworker who often gives little thinking-of-you treats to the people in my life. If I am at the drugstore, I'll grab skittles (kid2) or a packet of jerky (kid1) or gum (everyone) to bring home. Everyone loves ring pops! If other work staff have to come in during odd hours for a project, I'll bring donuts or bagels. Healthy stuff too though; weird fruits or veggies at the grocery store, a new flavor of protein powder. It's pretty food-focused though, as those are nice cheap little treats that make people smile, don't get wasted, don't cost much, and are available everywhere.

As a followup to this question, please give me some ideas for little impulsive I-love-you gifts I can get for my dear ones that don't involve rotting their teeth. Some examples: guitar picks, greeting cards, glowsticks, a text with a snippet of good song lyrics, Sacajawea dollars.
posted by headnsouth to Human Relations (25 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Potted plant?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:08 AM on June 1, 2011

You mention Sacajawea dollars, 2$ bills are fun too for both kids and adults. Just ask at your bank they usually have a few buried in a drawer they will be glad to be rid of.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:09 AM on June 1, 2011

Lego keyrings (Lego men or Lego blocks)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:12 AM on June 1, 2011

Not sure if this is out of the price range you're looking for, but dogeared jewelry makes lovely little pieces that come with meaningful texts.

It also sounds like the sort of thing Signals excels in.

For inexpensive things, any party store has a range of goody-bag stuffers, or you could browse the insanity-inducing Oriental Trading Co
posted by Mchelly at 7:13 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I pick up books for my family members at the thrift store or in a free pile/book swap.

I also enjoy picking up cheap tchotchke in kitchen stores, like these little plastic fish for soy sauce.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 7:21 AM on June 1, 2011

Bath products. (Bonus points for Lush.)

Silly Putty.

Possibly both at once. No. Definitely both at once.
posted by jph at 7:22 AM on June 1, 2011

I love the dollar section at Target (right at the front of the store). They have little things like packs of stickers, spools of ribbon, potted plant growing kits, glowsticks, monogrammed post-it notes, etc.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 7:29 AM on June 1, 2011

Fridge magnets.
posted by usonian at 7:39 AM on June 1, 2011

Pens and pencils in cute (ink) colors.
posted by gaspode at 7:40 AM on June 1, 2011

Seed packets, bookmarks, stickers, socks, polished rocks, froebel stars, glass pendants.
posted by Ostara at 7:41 AM on June 1, 2011

nailpolish, trashy magazines, lotion, perfume sample vials

funny toothbrush, bath bomb, bubblebath, bouncy ball, silly putty, ribbons

little notebook or address book, special decorated cup, rainbow pack of sharpies
posted by rmless at 7:42 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

My old housemate once cut out a little circle of cardboard, coloured it in with felt pens, and wrote something really sweet and personal on it for me. Cost her next to nothing but I've still got it in a little box. A few well-chosen words can be priceless :)
posted by greenish at 7:45 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]

Buy a package of blank greeting cards or notecards (maybe with fun pictures on the front) and write a brief "thinking of you!" note every once in awhile. Getting a card in an envelope when it's not a special occasion always makes me feel pretty good.
posted by xingcat at 7:47 AM on June 1, 2011

My daughter is a fan of the littlest Schleich animals and the little limited edition Playmobil sets (they're usually under $5, and I grab them if I see them on sale). They add to things she already has, and are easy to sell or pass on when she's done with them.

She has also liked (and does still like) little treats like coin purses, bubbles like these, but we get them at the dollar store, cute washcloths, packs of seeds, comic books, silly straws, cute socks, hair thingies.

She and I both enjoy things like Scratch Art paper and other fun art supplies. And having a mini Sharpie on my key ring has been great, because if I need to leave a note due to a broken parking meter or scribble a number, it's so handy. I always love wee notebooks for that reason too.

Everyone in my family also likes kind actions that are out of the ordinary, or ordinary but done specially. For example, this morning, I told my daughter she could have five more minutes in bed while I took care of her morning pet chores. And my husband loves berries on his cereal, so I'm going to grab some today, and I noticed that his sock drawer needs a good sorting. The trick with those is that though you probably do a million little things like that throughout their lifetime, there's a difference between just doing it, and presenting it with a flourish. I'm not some cheeful whacko who need attention for doing simple things, but people do forget that favours are like little gifts too.
posted by peagood at 7:51 AM on June 1, 2011

I saw a greeting card once that said "You make me want to be a better person" on the front, and "...and by 'better' I mean 'more naked'" on the inside. I think it's a lovely thinking-of-you sentiment for whomever you like to get naked with.

For kids, Hotwheel cars and little animal figurines are awesome. Small so you can keep them on your person for spur of the moment surprising, and under a dollar each. I used to keep a supply in my bookbag for the inevitable pass-parent-panhandling-with-child moments that make me sad, but I haven't had enough cash flow myself lately to keep that up.
posted by phunniemee at 7:58 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

There are a lot of options in the office supply store or section that combine fun and functional and make good trinket-y gifts, like the new bright colors of Sharpies or post-it pads.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 7:59 AM on June 1, 2011

Slinkies, or really anything that looks neat on my desk. I'm one of those people that loves really unitask-y office supplies, but would never buy them for myself because they're silly little pieces of plastic. Tiny LEGO sets. If you're thinking about going digital, Amazon MP3 (probably iTunes too?) lets you give single songs as gifts, and you don't need special software to download the MP3.
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:26 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do not underestimate the power of office supplies.
posted by jph at 8:28 AM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

For little kids, aren't those rubber band/bracelets that are shaped like things really popular these days? I always see them at the checkout at Target.

For teens, maybe gift cards or discount vouchers for movie tickets. We used to be able to get $5 discount vouchers (back when movies cost $7.50, in the late 90s).

For adults in the office, food really does seem like the obvious choice. My fiance raves with happiness when there's leftover bread and butter from a meeting that gets shared in the break room. I guess it's really good crusty bread and some kind of delicious butter?

ThinkGeek has a Gifts Under $10 section, if you don't mind planning ahead far enough to cover shipping time.
posted by vytae at 9:03 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Send someone a postcard! Everyone loves to receive mail :)
posted by unlaced at 9:41 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Round paper clips. So cool.
posted by Corvid at 10:31 AM on June 1, 2011

At the risk of being Scrooge McAntiHoarderton, I vote for sharing your love with consumables or things that will be actually used. The world's already full of plastic tchotchke.
posted by cyndigo at 12:33 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Office supplies for sure. Nice pens, post-it notes, those little bookmark post-it notes, good erasers...I guess I'm coming from a studenty kind of perspective here, but this kind of stuff gets used.

I feel like you would do well to think about the kind of stuff that companies get made to give out at conferences. Lip balm, chip clips, refrigerator magnets, little desk toys, novelty computer mice...the common thread is that these are things you can use and look at every day.

Also: gum is consumable, and if you get a sugar-free one with xylitol or recaldent, it will *anti*-rot your kids' teeth.
posted by troublesome at 5:13 PM on June 1, 2011

( . . . just don't get gum with xylitol if you have a dog!)

other than that, i love all things archie mcphee.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 11:53 PM on June 1, 2011

How about little notes? Maybe fold them into origami cranes for extra specialness? Plus, if you fold enough your wish will come true.
posted by I am the Walrus at 10:47 AM on June 2, 2011

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