89+ Kind and Fun Online Holiday Gift Shopping Ideas for 2021

Happy Person with Great Holiday Gift Ideas

As the world gets more and more divisive, it’s more important than ever that we are kind (sometimes fiercely kind)—to ourselves, others and the planet. AND we can do this with our holiday shopping!

This list is all do-able online—without leaving your sofa! I’ve added some new ideas for 2021, and although this list is easy to scan, I’ve also added an index at the top this year so you can jump to the section you’re interested in.

  • Some of us may have been financially impacted by COVID so we need to be Fiercely Kind to ourselves and our pocketbook. This may mean fewer gifts, spending less or homemade.
  • We may need to be kind to ourselves by avoiding the stress of in person holiday shopping—and shop online instead.
  • Simplify your gift buying. Be Fiercely Kind and give yourself permission to worry less about finding the “ultimate” gift for loved ones.
  • And be kind to the planet or your community… We can be role models (and create the world we wish to see) by using small and local businesses rather than huge companies. So do your research and look for ideas on big sites like Amazon and then order small or local.

So below, I’ve come up with lots of ideas to get you thinking—fun, useful or original gift ideas for your friends and loved ones. Many of the ideas below are budget friendly.

These days you can search for anything online—so whilst many of the links I’ve included are Canadian or North American-centric, the gift ideas are likely to be available online near you. Make your search term as specific as possible (including the brand, make and model once you’ve decided), and your search should offer several localised ways to buy.

Online Shopping Tip: Before spending time browsing a site and getting excited about finding the ideal gift, check FIRST that the website ships to your area/country—as well as the cost of shipping…

Jump straight to the various ideas here:
Gift Ideas to Be Kind to You!

5 Gift Certificates and Card ideas

We’ll start with the less exciting ideas. Gift cards and baskets have experienced a renaissance in the last few years. And they are a kind solution (to ourselves), especially for those difficult to buy for people on our lists.

  1. Gift cards to a favourite store. This could be a bookstore, cookware store etc. AND. Many local stores now offer gift certificates too, so you can support local (or local to your giftee!). Think about stores your giftee might like, but not usually treat themself…
  2. Gift certificate to a new, popular or favourite restaurant.
  3. Gift certificates to a local garden centre.
  4. Use a service like Moonpig (to send gifts to people in the US/UK and Australia) that offers customisable cards with add-on gifts. The gifts may be fairly unoriginal—chocolates, flowers, plush toys, gift baskets. But there are fun options too, and they use quality brands.
  5. You could also create a “personal rain check” certificate to celebrate in-person with you in the future (quality time in person with people you love is precious).

3+ Charitable Giving ideas

Be kind to yourself and stop struggling to think of something for the person who has everything! Also, consider charitable donations for very civic-minded people in your life:

  1. Make a donation to a charity that you think your giftee would appreciate. For example, I’m making a donation again this year to The Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Foundation on behalf of my husband. It’s the most endangered mammal in Canada (from clear-cutting)… Those marmots are darned cute, and we even got to see them in person on a hike this year!
  2. Many charities now offer specific packages—like a “dig a well” or a “poverty busting pig for female farmers in Rwanda”. Oxfam unwrapped has many great ideas along these lines and sends a gift card to your recipient too.
  3. Socks are one of the most under-donated, but most needed items of clothing for the homeless. Give your giftee socks from a company that offers “buy a pair/donate a pair of socks for the homeless”. Some companies that do this include Bombas, SockRocket (who now donate 3 pairs for every one pair sold!) and Province of Canada

Tip: Consider if you would like your giftee to get something official from the charity you donated to (like a card telling them about the charity)? If so, check before donating.

Gift Ideas to Be Kind to the Planet

7 Gifts for the Nature Lover

  1. National Park or local garden passes. I give my parents (the world famous) Butchart Gardens annual passes! In the UK you could give someone “National Trust” Memberships. Simple search for the Region or Country and National Parks and Pass to find something local to your recipient.
  2. Nature guide books eg. a Butterfly/Bird/Flowering plant/Mushroom identification guide book that applies to the area where your giftee lives.
  3. Indoor flower or herb-growing kits.
  4. Outdoor seed sets or “complete” gardening gift sets that include gloves, trowel etc.
  5. A guidebook with walks that are local to your giftee. It’s so important to spend time in nature
  6. Beautiful bird feeders.
  7. Fun bird or insect houses. Mason bee homes are popular and a friend (thank-you Belinda!) gave me a ladybug house.

7+ Gifts for the Eco-Conscious Recipient

Search for “eco-friendly gifts: and there are so many options. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. *NEW* for 2021: Zero Waste Gift Boxes. This link goes to an Etsy search with lots. of. totally. awesome. ideas for the recipient who is environmentally conscious!
  2. Upcycled Pancake & Waffle Mix. Yes, you read that right. An innovative product made from spent grain after beer production. It’s also low-carb so could be quite the talking point for your keto or foodie friends 🙂 And *NEW* in 2021 is the Chocolate Pancake & Waffle Mix, high fibre/high protein/low carb Flour Alternative and fun “seasoned coatings” for delicious dinners in Lemon-Pepper and Chili Paprika.
  3. I want a pair of these—allbirds—wool runners with laces recycled from plastic bottles, recycled cardboard package and carbon neutral production. They have a great returns policy and also offer gift cards.
  4. Natural bath products and sets. Try the Bathapalooza Bath Bomb Set from Salt Spring Soapworks (great if you’re in Canada).
  5. How about a Vegan or Vegetarian Cookbook for those looking to lighten their load on the planet by eating less meat. I can recommend The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out by Angela Liddon
  6. A solar power phone charger.
  7. A water bottle that infuses fruits and herbs—here’s a list of 16 Fruit Infuser Water bottles.
  8. Other ideas include stylish reusable bags (you could give your gift in a reusable bag and save wrapping!), reusable water bottles (the trend has gone insulated—keeping cold drinks cold and warm drinks hot), reusable mugs, fun produce bags to store your vegetables, beeswax foodwraps and lids for containers, reusable sandwich and snack bags, reusable straws, cool compost bins for the kitchen counter—and so much more!
Home-made with Love…

5 Gift Ideas to Make at Home

Dexter Cookies gift ideas

Homemade “Dexter” Cookies

Making something can be fun—and (depending on what it is) also be gentler on the budget.

  1. Cookies: one year a friend gave me homemade cookies that looked like our dog Dexter! Thank-you Kristine 🙂
  2. Jams, chutneys/pickles: we love making jam and pickles. They are a fun gift that you know will be enjoyed.
  3. *NEW* Make your own liqueurs. You can do this in mason jars, and give your giftees instructions to leave it for XXX days before drinking! Here’s a list of 10 easy homemade liqueur recipes (from The Spruce Eats website)
  4. A home knitted scarf: if you can knit, there is still time to knit a long, super-thin rectangle and call it a scarf. There are super-cool yarns available online these days! And if you get fat knitting needles with fuzzy yarn—you’ll knit more, faster and may even get a few done in time!
  5. Make a sparkly lightcatcher. Help your loved ones spread some uplifting rainbows! I’m making these for a few favoured friends.
    • Get clear fishing line, some pliers from your home toolbox, and go crazy in the bead store (remember to get one big crystal for the bottom to weight the lightcatcher and actually make the rainbows!). You’ll also need crimps—small metal rings that you clamp with pliers—to seal the end once you’ve looped through and back up through the bottom crystal. Here’s a video to help you get started.
Gifts for those who love words

9+ Ideas for the Avid Reader or Writer on your list

  1. Buy a thoughtful book. Buying books on weird niche topics has never been so easy. Simply search book + weird niche topic that your giftee is interested in. The range of books available, and the cover designs (to make them interesting and giftable) has never been better!
  2. *NEW* for 2021: There is always a glossy coffee table book. Here are some great lists of the best coffee table books of 2021 from Good Housekeeping, Conde Naste Traveler, and some more masculine choices from Town and Country.
  3. Get an autobiography or memoir of someone inspirational—whom your giftee admires eg. Michelle Obama, Helen Keller, Tina Fey, Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo. Maya Angelou wrote several books summing up her life. Sidney Poitier’s The Measure of a Man is great, you could also try Nelson Mandela, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards (for the rock fan in your life) or Stephen King.
  4. Omnibus Editions of books are great, for example Ursula K. Le Guin’s (new in 2020) complete illustrated edition of The Books of Earthsea.
  5. *NEW* for 2021: Get a boxed set of books—that will keep them busy for a while!  Many classics have had their covers beautifully redesigned like this Jane Austen or Tolkien boxed set. And lastly this set of 80 classics called the Little Black Classics Box Set.
  6. Beautiful notecards: you can even personalise them for example at Papier.
  7. A gorgeous journal. There are so many beautiful designs these days. Paperblanks are one of my favourite brands! Add a set of coloured pens for fun.
  8. Fun stationery. Try the Kawaii Pen Store for younger giftees, or Knock Knock for fun notepads.
  9. A beautiful luxury pen. There are so many options, and some pricey brands include Cross, Montblanc, Waterman. Lower priced pen brands include Caran D’Ache, Parker, Faber Castell and more!
Fun and Amusing Gift Ideas

5+ Colourful and Playful Gift Ideas

Anything bright, colourful is uplifting which is good when we’re stuck at home—especially if it’s winter where you are.

  1. *NEW* for 2021 Fun masks! Given that masks are going to be around for a while, why not have fun? Last Christmas I was given a fabulous lion mask (thank-you Mary!). And it has also been the best mask for me so far to wear with glasses (fitted not pleated), I have bought more for myself (one with Van Gogh’s sunflowers painting on) as well as two fun dog masks for my young nephews! Check out Maskcott (Premium Masks & the fun ones are Canadian made).
  2. Rainbows and unicorns are still all the rage—and there are a surprising amount of rainbow/unicorn themed gifts everywhere. Even for the grown-ups like this reusable rainbow chopsticks set!
  3. Oracle Cards. There are so many fun and gorgeous Oracle Cards out there now. So if you know someone who loves cards here are a couple of ideas:
  4. Cute fairy lights: there are so many options for battery operated and plug in light sets to set the mood. Whether it’s bees, flowers, snowflakes, coloured light strings, lights that go in wine bottles (the battery and switch are in a fake cork that sits in the top).
    • What does your giftee love? Cats, flowers, bees? Just type in ______ fairy lights and you’ll be surprised what’s available!
  5. To get more ideas, here’s an Etsy search for “Cheery Gift Ideas
Give people a monthly delivery of happiness!

11+ Subscription Gift Ideas

Subscription boxes are all the rage during the COVID pandemic: give people something to look forward to—every month!

Gift Subscriptions are a pricier option—but can start as low as around $10 a month for the snacks. Here are just a few of the things you can get on subscription:

  1. Make-up like LoveGoodly for non-toxic, cruelty free make-up.
  2. Coffee or Tea subscriptions like this one (available for 3/6/12 months).
  3. *NEW* for 2021! Chocolate. Subscription or “Discovery” boxes. OMG. Yes please! This list from Spruce Eats gives some great options.
  4. Sock deliveries!
  5. Wine subscriptions!
  6. Baked goods.
  7. Meal kits. These come in every cuisine imaginable!
  8. Stickers (even for adults!)
  9. Monthly Leggings!
  10. Healthy Snack packs like Love With Food (for every box sent out, Love With Food donates at least one meal to American families in need) or —focusing on non-GMO, natural and organic and they also have gluten free and vegan options.
  11. And of course there are still magazines! I get Psychology Today for current ideas and a light read.
Make it Personal

6+ Personalised Gifts…

Personalised gifts have come a long ways since the early days, and you no longer need to order 100 to make it cost-effective. In addition, many smaller companies are now offering this service. Simply type in personalised ______ and you may be surprised at the range of options available.

  1. Photo gifts: personalised calendars, photo tiles, mugs. Vistaprint is great for this, but there may be other, smaller more local companies offering the same service.
  2. A set of personalised pens, so they’re never without a pen again!
  3. Personalised drinkware: glasses for your alcoholic beverage of choice—and mugs—are popular right now.
  4. Personalised notecards. For giftees who like to connect by snail mail. Try Papier for some beautiful ideas (US, Canada and UK).
  5. *NEW* for 2021 Personalised masks. Have some fun and create something unique for a loved one!
  6. *NEW* for 2021 Personalised blankets! I LOVE this one. Uses recycled plastic and sustainably sourced wood too! Choose a favourite scene, a picture of a pet/loved one and get it printed onto a useful & snuggly blanket! (starts at $30CAD up to $90, machine washable at low temperatures). NOTE: This link is to a Canadian website.
Gifts for Cocooning at Home

7+ Cosy Home-based Gifts

People are spending more and more time at home and with all that stress, we want it feeling safe and cosy. We’re also learning new cooking skills! Read on…

  1. Kitchen gadgets: have you got friends or loved ones who (during COVID) have got into home baking, pasta making, home-brewing? Buy them something fun, stylish or helpful for their new hobby.
  2. Cosy-making gifts: Snuggly blankets, Warm slippers, Scented candles are all very popular this year as we spend more time cosying up at home.
  3. Cute socks. There are some incredibly cute, cosy and fun socks available out there these days! (You know when you’re a grown-up—because you enjoy getting good socks as a gift!)
  4. Luxury home retreat sets: especially natural/eco-friendly sets!
  5. *NEW* for 2021: Ultrasonic Scent Diffusers have moved on from the ceramic tealight-powered diffusers of old. Now you can get USB  powered ultrasonic diffusers that send out puffs of vapour and are beautifully designed (I like the wooden ones) and many have LED lights built in too! There’s even one that looks like the Moon! I have this one made from recycled bamboo that has gorgeous cutouts and cycles through 7 different colours.
  6. *NEW* for 2021 us this adorably cute 3 cup capacity SMEG Mini Kettle (link is to the USA Williams Sonama website).
  7. Here’s an American article with some great (mostly) small business “care package ideas“.

TIP: Wrap-up your gifts in a cute tea-towel instead of using wrapping paper!

The Gift of Online Learning

There really is something for everyone. What is your giftee interested in? Simply search for online course in _____. There are many online course delivery websites these days – and do check reviews and refund policies before paying.

  • I love these Masterclasses (currently two for the price of one!). There is such a wide range of options—all covered by signing up. There are 100+ instructors (mostly famous people) to choose from, approx. 20 lessons per masterclass in nice 10 minute bite-sized chunks. Classes taught by experts like:
    • Redefining Feminism (Various)
    • Margaret Atwood (Writing)
    • Helen Mirren (Acting)
    • Anna Wintour (Creativity and Leadership)
    • Dr Jane Goodall (Conservation)
    • Massimo Bottura (Modern Italian Cooking)
    • Christina Aguilera (Singing)
    • Judd Apatow (Comedy)
    • Annie Leibovitz (Photography)
    • Also classes on Making cocktails (Mixology), Interior design, Texan BBQ cooking, Magic, Space exploration and more!
  • There are other online course providers, and more popping up by the year. Some of the most well-known for academic learning are Udemy, Coursera and edX.
Other Gift Ideas

5+ Ideas for the Pet lover

  1. A “Mutts” comic strip picture book by Patrick McDonnell. I really like the one he did with Eckhart Tolle called Guardians of Being.
  2. A snuffle mat (also called puzzle rugs) for dogs—and cats. These mats have lots of different spaces to hide treats, are recommended by vets and dog trainers. I’m getting one for our elderly dog Dexter. Tip: Make sure to get one that is washable!
  3. Sponsor a pet in a local animal shelter.
  4. Get a custom pet pillow/cushion (etsy search) made from a photo of your loved one’s pet!
  5. Plus pet photo blankets, mugs, socks, pictures of a beloved pet as a Star Trek character and more!
  6. Get more ideas for pet lovers from Etsy here.

3 Gift ideas for a Man

The links are to Etsy Canada. Simply use the keywords to search online or on Etsy and find something similar.

  1. *NEW* for 2021: For the man who is always losing his keys/sunglasses. A wooden stand with a spot for his watch, phone, keys, spare change and more. And it’s personalisable too!
  2. *NEW* for 2021: For the man who loves to read. A customised leather bookmark.
  3. *NEW* for 2021 is this great stocking stuffer of LED Flashlight Gloves or Flashlight Headlamp. Extremely useful!

3 Gift Ideas for the Foodie in your Life

  1. *NEW* for 2021: A Mushroom Log! Yes, grow your own Shiitake (or Oyster/Chestnut/Reishi/other delicious mushrooms). I have done this and it is yummy—and fun! Simple search online for “shiitake (or other) mushroom log kit”.
  2. *NEW* for 2021: A Homemade Gin Kit. This particular kit includes glass bottles, strainer and the right herbs/botanicals for gin!
  3. *NEW* for 2021: The Litterless Lunch Set. A Portable and Reusable Bowl, Cup and Knife set.

3 Gift Ideas for the Teenager in your Life

  1. *NEW* for 2021 A Bluetooth enabled Beanie (hat). I’m not sure how I feel about this—but I think teenagers (and the tech-obsessed) will love it! It will keep people warm, enable them to listen to music answer calls without fumbling for—and dropping—their phone in the wintertime.
  2. *NEW* for 2021 Customised neon signs! I would have loved one of these as a teenager! (link is to an Etsy search Canada, but you can search your country’s Etsy)
  3. *NEW* for 2021 A mini projector so people can stop watch their favourite shows on the wall—and not their tiny phone screens! Surprisingly affordable (depending on the brand you go for – as little as $75CAD). Just search online for “mini projector smart phone”. A couple of under $200 ideas include the Meer Portable Pico Full Color LED LCD Video Projector, the ViewSonic M1 mini and 3600L Hompow Smartphone Portable Video Projector.

4 Gift ideas for a Family

  1. Board games. Board games have changed a lot in the last two decades. Some ideas include Settlers of Catan if there are teenagers, Perudo dice game for fun (and also getting better at calculating odds), CodeNames for thinking laterally and more. Here’s a list of 40 family friendly board games.
  2. A voucher from you for baby-sitting or picking their kids up from school or some other kind of help they might need.
  3. A music or spoken word online subscription.
    • An Audible—so the whole family can listen to a book together instead of watching a movie
    • A Spotify premium subscription—so the family can explore and share their musical tastes
    • Luminary—high end podcasts with something for everyone
  4. Goodnight stories for Rebel Girls! There are many versions of this book with inspiring women like 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World, 100 Real-life Tales Of Black Girl Magic and more! You don’t just need to read these to girls either—consider that we have been reading tales with male leads to girls for years, so why not read rebel girls books to your boys too?

5 Gift ideas that look ahead to Sunnier Times!

Looking ahead to spring/summer (or if you’re already in a warm climate/in the Southern Hemisphere). Simply search for these phrases:

  1. Lined picnic blankets. Tip: Look for one that folds up and has a carry handle.
  2. Picnic backpacks.
  3. Outdoor cooking tools.
  4. Useful camping gadgets.
  5. Best outdoor games.

Wrap-up

These gift ideas are intended to be uplifting, hopeful, optimistic. Less technical gizmos, more local, homemade, handmade. Think big picture. Think learning. Think KIND to yourself, others and the planet!

What were your favourite ideas? What would you add to the list? Share in the comments below!

Some final thoughts for careful online shopping:

  • If you can, use your Credit Card to shop online—many Credit Cards have buyer protection, so if something doesn’t arrive or isn’t what you expect and the seller doesn’t want to “play ball” and fix the situation you still have an opportunity to get your money back.
  • If you’re going to give gift cards to local businesses, do consider—ask even—what happens if they close and the card hasn’t been used.
  • And if you really want to get something, but you’re not sure about how reliable the store is—don’t spend more than you can afford to lose!

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Remember: Change the world, start with you!

Image of Person shopping online for holiday gifts during COVID by Prostock-studio via Shutterstock

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