67+ Kind and Fun (COVID) Online Holiday Gift Shopping Ideas for 2020

Woman online shopping for holiday gift ideas during COVID

Earlier this week I had an eye exam, so I decided to do a little holiday shopping while I was in town. It was a weirdly stressful experience, and I found myself thinking that this year especially, we need to be (fiercely) kind to ourselves while holiday shopping.

  • Some of us may be financially impacted by COVID so we need to be Fiercely Kind to ourselves and our pocketbook. This may mean fewer gifts, spending less, homemade.
  • We may need to be kind to ourselves by avoiding the stress of holiday shopping in public spaces with all the restrictions and strangeness – 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. Consider doing your research on Amazon and then ordering small or local.

So below, I’ve come up with lots of ideas to get you thinking – fun, useful and original gift ideas for your friends and loved ones. Many of the ideas below are budget friendly, and whilst many of the links I’ve included are North American-centric, the gift ideas are universal.

Online Shopping Tip: Before spending time browsing 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…
Gift Ideas to Be Kind to Yourself

Gift Certificates and Cards

We’ll start with the less exciting ideas. These days gift cards and gift baskets can be a little passé, but 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 – especially if your giftee can also shop online…
  2. Gift certificate to a 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 good brands.
  5. You could also create a rain check certificate to celebrate in-person in the future (when it’s possible).

Charitable Giving

Stop struggling to think of something for the person who has everything they want and need! 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, this year (Duncan stop reading!), I’m making a donation to the 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!
  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.
  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: Is it important that your giftee gets 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!
  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 for walks local to your giftee. Could be especially relevant this year!
  6. Beautiful bird feeders.
  7. Fun bird or insect houses. Mason bee homes are popular! Last year a friend (thank-you Belinda!) gave me a ladybug house!

7+ Gifts for the Eco-Friendly Recipient

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

  1. Upcycled Pancake mix? Yes, you read that right. Made from spent grain after beer production. Apparently it’s also low-carb. Could be quite the talking point for your foodie friends 🙂
  2. 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.
  3. Natural bath products and sets. Try the Bathapalooza Bath Bomb Set from Salt Spring Soapworks (great if you’re in Canada).
  4. 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
  5. A solar power phone charger.
  6. A water bottle that infuses fruits and herbs – here’s a list of 16 Fruit Infuser Water bottles.
  7. 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!
Made with Love…

4 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 – last 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. 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!
  4. 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

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

  1. Buy a thoughtful book. Beyond a glossy coffee table book, here are a couple of ideas:
    • Get an autobiography or memoir of someone inspirational – or who 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 or Stephen King.
    • Get a boxed set of books – that will keep them busy during a lockdown! For example I’ve bought Ursula K. Le Guin’s new complete illustrated edition of The Books of Earthsea for my nephews.
  2. Beautiful notecards – you can even personalise them for example at Papier.
  3. A gorgeous journal. There are so many beautiful designs these days. Add a set of coloured pens for fun.
  4. A beautiful luxury pen.
  5. Fun stationery. Try the Kawaii Pen Store for younger giftees, or Knock Knock for fun notepads.
Fun and Amusing Gift Ideas

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. Rainbows are all the rage right now – and there are a surprising amount of rainbow themed gifts everywhere.
  2. 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:
  3. 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!
  4. To get more ideas, here’s an Etsy search for “Colourful 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. Pet Photo blankets, mugs, socks, pictures of a beloved pet as a Star Trek character and more!
  5. Get more ideas for pet lovers from Etsy here.
Give people a monthly delivery of happiness!

9 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.
  3. Sock deliveries!
  4. Baked goods.
  5. Meal kits. These come in every cuisine imaginable!
  6. Stickers (even for adults!)
  7. Monthly Leggings!
  8. 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 urthbox – focusing on non-GMO, natural and organic and they also have gluten free and vegan options.
  9. And of course there are still magazines! I get Psychology Today for current ideas and a light read.
Make it Personal

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)
Gifts for Cocooning at Home

4+ Cosy (COVID inspired) 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. 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. There is such a wide range of options – all covered by signing up. There are 90+ classes to choose from, approx. 20 lessons per masterclass in nice 10 minute bite-sized chunks. Classes taught by experts like:
    • 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!
Other Gift Ideas

3 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

5 Gift ideas that look ahead

Looking ahead to spring/summer (or if you’re already in a warm climate/in the Southern Hemisphere):

  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. Outdoor games.


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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