15 People On The Most Thoughtful Holiday Present They’ve Ever Received


‘Tis the season for giving! What’s your gift-giving style? Are you a big spender who shops at the last second or do you agonize over gifts for each person on your list like I do? I asked my friends and family for some of the most thoughtful gifts they’ve given or received, and though not all were holiday gifts, you may find inspiration in these heartwarming stories. Everybody say “Awwwww.”


“My grandma gave me a boxed set of Gene Kelly DVDs when I was 12 and it’s still one of my favorite gifts to-date. I really love movie musicals but I especially LOVE Gene Kelly and now that my grandma has passed away it’s a nice little reminder of her too. I was screaming like a teenybopper at a One Direction concert [when I got it.]” — Tamara


“When I was in fourth grade or something and completely obsessed with Harry Potter, my dad actually handmade me a wand and a broomstick, complete with a note from Dumbledore. Pretty nerdy stuff for sure, but so sweet.” — Kelly


“My grandma gave me a beautiful hardcover of Little Women when I was 9 and it has been one of my favorite books ever since. On my birthday one year, my husband had worked with the owner of our favorite restaurant to create a four-course beet menu for me! And they named a drink after me and gave me the printed menu to take home.” — Maritza


“I gave my dad Celine Dion concert tickets one year because he adores her. But if you ask him, the best gift I ever got him was three of the same exact wallet because it’s “the best wallet ever made.'” — Marci


“I was 15 and super angsty, and my family was dealing with a plane crash that killed four extended family members. It was a very stressful summer with everyone responding to the tragedy in their different ways but not really talking about it. I responded by retreating into my own world via liberal use of headphones. I had no disc man at that time—I lugged my single disk boom box around the house and plugged in as necessary. It was terrible. And then the boom box broke. I was gutted. 
Not long after that, my dad lured me to his office one evening. I don’t remember the excuse or reason he gave for me to be at his workplace after hours, but I was super grouchy about needing to go there with him. He went into the back of the shop to get something, and while waiting at the reception desk for him to get back I noticed that there was a brand new 3 disc changer sitting on the desk. Brand new, still in the box. He returned and I asked “what’s this for?” and he said “it’s for you.” Totally out of character. I think he needed to sneakily give it to me away from my mom and siblings. I was shocked that he’d discerned that music was THE lifeline for my very angsty teenaged self; I would have expected my parents to dismiss this as a phase, but this gift was a tacit acknowledgment that things were bonkers and I’d found a healthy way to process my emotions that they were ok with. Here was the tool I needed to get through the summer, and it made all the difference. I’ll never forget it.” — Chris


“A few years ago my aunt got me a Green Bay Packers beanie. I had always liked the Packers and sports [in general], but never to the extent that I have since she gifted me the hat. It just clicked for some reason. Since then I’ve been able to talk about football and it’s made bonds with certain family members stronger … [especially] the ones who didn’t understand why my hair was blue.” — Chris C.


“When I was 20, the guy I was dating remembered me talking about how when I was little, my parents gave me a copy of “A Little Princess” on VHS and it had the locket included in the packaging. I told him how much I loved that locket, and got sad when I thought about the fact that I had lost it years ago. For Christmas, he found an unopened VHS copy on eBay and gave it to me– locket included! It was so sweet and thoughtful and genuine. and then, like the asshole undeserving of love that I am, I totally lost that locket too a few years later.” — Rachel


“The most exciting was my Cabbage Patch Kid in ’83 and I SCREAMED when I opened it. Running through the house like praise Jesus (or my dad who found the doll in a small town in GA when they could not be found anywhere). I was a Material Girl, what can I say? But seriously, my husband has come through with some thoughtful gifts. He surprised me (literally drove me to the venue and wouldn’t tell me who we were seeing) with a Dolly Parton concert for our first official date. (I cried) That year for my birthday he took me to DC to see Loretta Lynn because “it’s fun to see you get bent out of shape over country music” (I bawled). And a few years ago he bought me a plane ticket to see friends in LA because I had lamented the fact that I rarely get to see old friends. “I thought you’d like to see your friends,” he said. I bought him one share of Green Bay Packers stock (his favorite team )so he could say “I’m an owner of the Green Bay Packers.” One year I’ll get him to a game at Lambeau.” — Beth


“For our first anniversary (paper), [my husband] scanned in all of the post-it love notes that we had left for each other and turned them into an ebook, which I found on an iPad he gave me. HEART EXPLOSION. Oh, and I got him a JOURNAL. GREAT.” — Nora


“A gift card to Whole Foods when I first moved to NYC. I was broke and it covered my groceries for a week.” — Lindsay


“The best gift I received—a computer, from my boyfriend who is a broke touring musician. [He] managed to get me a refurbished MacBook Air because when we’d video chat, my computer was so old it would always glitch the hell out. I molded and cast in silver a pendant with said boyfriend’s astrological constellation on one side and mine on the other. I swear it looked very minimal and tasteful and not corny.” — Sable


“I studied abroad in college soon after [my now husband] and I started dating and I was super sad to be spending so much time apart. Before I left, he gave me a ton of Polaroid film, pretty stationery, and a stack of envelopes addressed to himself. I took photos throughout my time in Turkey and sent him a letter every week telling him the story behind each photo. When I got back home, he had scanned all the photos and had a coffee table book printed.” — Ashlie


“For my 16th birthday, four of my closest friends bought a hardcover copy of my favorite book and went through it and underlined meaningful phrases, wrote notes/poems in the margins, highlighted parallels between the characters and ourselves and played off one another’s comments. Cutest and most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received, almost a decade later I still love it.” — Heidi


“[My best friend] and I love the book “Dimestore Alchemy” by Charles Simic, but we refuse to purchase it new from somewhere like Amazon. We like to find it organically and give it as a gift. I’ve given it to tons of people but never kept one for myself. Last year on my birthday, which was at the tail end of a truly terrible fall, John found it in the thrift store and presented it with a card with the sweetest, simplest little message ever. It’s my favorite gift I’ve ever gotten and the most meaningful. The other one is the SONOS from my three best friends after said horrible fall; they even FaceTimed Amy in when they presented it to me because they knew it had been my favorite thing about my old house and it wasn’t mine to take when I moved. I use it almost every day. Oh! And last Christmas, my mom wrapped up my late grandma’s ’60s Christmas deer for me and if my house was on fire they would be the first thing I’d take. I was totally surprised when I unwrapped them.” — me


“A friend got my name in a secret Santa drawing at our work, and it was supposed to be something handmade. We each made a list of little hints so that our gift-giver had a little more to work from than just work interactions. Karen made me madeleines from scratch (I had mentioned France and baked goods) dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with iridescent sugar crystals. These were placed in a great glass jar with a lid (I listed things I could use in a classroom) which had been trimmed in purple paint, with a silver and purple glitter ribbon. To top it all off, she drew the Eiffel Tower on two sides, and then wrote French words and my name on the other sides. It was by far the most thoughtful gift I have ever received, and I love talking about it because I hope only to inspire others (and myself!) to be so whole-heartedly invested in delighting others.” — Madeline