Wednesday, July 22, 2009

6 Alternative Birthday Gift Ideas

I don't know about you, but I have a lot of stuff. No matter how many things I give away on Freecycle, or on Craigslist's free stuff classifieds, or to Goodwill, the closets and cupboards and drawers keep filling back up. Plus, I think everyone is feeling the pinch of the economic situation these days. It seems crazy for people to spend money buying more things.

Below are a few ideas I've been thinking of telling my friends and family are on my wish list:

  1. Something they make (i.e. a handmade crafty item, a tasty treat, a poem, a CD mix).

  2. Something I can use to make something (i.e. fabric, embroidery patterns, a six-pack of plants, a favorite recipe, ShrinkyDinks--remember how fun those were!)

  3. Something they already have. I know regifting is considered to be tacky, but I think it can work if you put a little thought behind it. For example, a former housemate once gave me a beautiful Moroccan plate of hers that had hung in our kitchen when we lived together. Whenever I look at it, I remember those happy times.

  4. A favorite quote or words of wisdom. Maybe you've got life figured out, but I sure don't. I can use all the inspiring quotes and advice I can get!

  5. A date to do something together. In our fast paced world, spending time with someone can be more valuable and memorable than a physical gift. A friend of mine's mom has been giving the gift of time to her grandchildren and children for years.

  6. A donation. When I tell people that I'd like a donation as a gift I try to give them a few organizations to choose from, in case my favorite cause rubs them the wrong way, and a variety of ways to give (online, via mail, via Facebook Cause, etc.). Some of my favorites these days are Women for Women International, UNICEF and Maine Coon Adoptions.
What are alternative birthday gift ideas you've given or received?

Related blog posts:
Alternative Ideas to Requesting No Gifts by Lisa Kothari of Free Birthday Treats Blog
The Case for Regifting by Greg Allen on Daddy Types
Making it - handmade and second hand birthday gifts on Future Craft Collective
Children's Birthday Parties with a Purpose by me!

Cross-posted on

Flickr photo credit: Peace Begins With A Smile ~ Creative Commons uploaded by D Sharon Pruitt


  1. A great blog - it really is the thought that counts and makes a gift special!

    How about also looking at the wrapping and using a furoshiki (fabric wrap) which can be reused instead of paper which is likely to be just thrown away? The furoshiki can also form part of the gift: homemade cake or biscuits wrapped in a napkin or tea towel; bandanas; silk scarves; cute designs that can be used as wall hanging. Please have a look at our particularly the March postings for ideas on furoshiki wrapping .

  2. Britt, I love this! I actually reached a point where I started to dread holidays/birthdays because it would mean a flood of more "stuff" that would smother my house. I hope more people consider returning to meaning over money. It's far more precious.
    I hope you enjoy an awesome 40th Birthday!

  3. Hi myfuroshiki--Thank you for the alternative gift wrap ideas.

    Anna-Thanks for the birthday wishes (:

  4. I agree, a thoughtful regift is not tacky at all. I also like to peruse the thrift stores for something special for a special someone. And of course, handmade rules! Whether you make something yourself, with your kids, or give a homemade "kit" of crafting. We used a cigar box once and put embroidery thread, a hoop and muslin, some buttons, and other little chotchke to pull out on a rainy, crafty day. The child loved it!

  5. Bernadette - I love the crafting kit idea. Check out this fun idea:

    Traveling Mail Art Kit.

  6. I gave my older brother a DVD Photo Slideshow with a combination of photos and videos from us growing up. I just sent everything into and they handled everything else. They had everything done and back to me within a week and a half.

  7. Great, idea, Jane! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Jarrod3:29 PM

    I love the DVD slideshow idea. I found a regifting service that will repackage, shrink wrap, gift wrap and mail a used CD, DVD or video game for about $10. The website is I regifted an old video game and saved $40. It might seems tacky to some people, but the game was as good as new.

  9. Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. . hope a good week end and good blogging!!!

  10. If you like to donate in someone's name, give a good card,
    It's a gift-card for donating.

    You choose the amount and the recipient chooses from a long list of charities and can even split the amount between several charities.

    There is a $5 administrative fee on the card but I think it's worth it.

  11. These are really great, I love this idea. I've been thinking about that my friend told me about the other day. I've been thinking about what I'm going to get my little sister for her upcoming birthday. I'm excited to see what I can find.

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