Managing your money

5 Thoughtful gifts for loved ones during the holidays

6 min read

Nicole Dickens

Now, more than ever, we’re all craving a little more connection. With that in mind, the holidays really do take on a bigger meaning this year. After months of being distanced from our loved ones, all of us have learned just how important human connection really is. This year, it might be tougher to show those you're close to just how much they mean to you face-to-face, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show them. You just might have to get a little creative!

We want to help you get those ideas flowing by sharing  a few gift ideas our team is planning on surprising their friends and family with. And no, this article isn’t just going to suggest hopping on another Zoom call to feel that connection. This year, we’re taking gift-giving to the next level by going that extra mile to put meaning behind our presents. With the additional time we have on our hands, it seems a lot of people are planning to dedicate more time towards gift shopping in 2020. But if you need a little inspiration, follow along below for some ideas.

1. Seek out the homegrown: ‘Tis the season to shop local

It always feels good to support a Canadian-made business — but this year, there’s a bit more weight behind each purchase. Shopping locally means helping your neighbours thrive, encouraging entrepreneurial spirit, and providing more jobs to those around you.

When you shop local, the products are usually made in smaller batches and in our experience, are more unique. So that thoughtful gift you’re hoping to find is more likely among the homegrown businesses than the giant retailers. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of 82 Calgary-made gifts.

If you’re able to, even reducing the amount you buy from big box stores and chains can go a long way. Of course it’s tempting to shop at marketplaces like Amazon for convenience, but this year, many local shops have responded to the pandemic by setting up online stores, delivery, and curbside-pickup options. Some orders are even ready the same day. Have questions about the product or delivery time? There’s a better chance you can get the owner or local maker on the phone too.

To begin your search for a Canadian business worthy of your wallet, here’s a list of a few Canadian-made gifts. Even opting to support Canadian-made businesses like Well.ca is a good starting point! (And, yes, you get extra cash back there too with your KOHO card!)

"This year, we’re taking gift-giving to the next level by going that extra mile to put meaning behind our presents."

2. Home for the holidays: Give a house-warming gift

This year has turned everyone into a homebody. So why not lean into that? From candles, to coffee table books, to house plants, there’s a gift you’ll be able to find for all your friend’s and family’s homes! Plus, with everyone at home, we’re like 100% less likely to kill our house plants.

If you’re someone who usually opts for practical gifts, this could be your year to shine. Does a vacuum sound practical enough? Our partner, Hudson’s Bay, even carries the crown jewel of vacuum brands, Dyson! (Buy a Dyson here, and get an extra 2% cash back when you use your KOHO card.)

With the extended time at home, many people are discovering cooking for the first time, or finding it again. So maybe the perfect cookbook is the ideal gift this year? For the less adventurous, meal-kits are a good option too!

3. Spread kindness and cheer: Donate if you can

If you’re in the financial position to donate this year, or donate a little extra — that’s great!  From Covid-19, police brutality, climate change and the Canadian housing crisis, there’s a lot to support. You probably want to help, but it’s difficult to know how, and what to do. Everything seems so urgent and there are a lot of factors to consider. To help you choose the social justice organization that makes the most sense for you, we wrote a blog on budgeting for a better world. Think of it as your holiday gift guide, but for social justice organizations.

Here are just a few for your consideration this year:

  • Black Lives Matter: an international organization and movement fighting police and State violence and anti-Black racism

  • ACORN Canada: a national organization of low and moderate income people fighting for economic justice across Canada

  • Vancouver Native Housing Society: a non-profit working to secure long-term affordable housing for Indigenous people in North America’s most expensive city

  • Indigineous Climate Justice: an Indigenous-led organization striving to find solutions to the climate crisis and achieve climate justice

  • FoodShareToronto: a group focusing on supporting food security and justice to families in Toronto

"This year has turned everyone into a homebody. So why not lean into that?"

4. Beyond 2020: Make your gift forward-looking

Okay, we’ll state the obvious one last time — 2020 has been unprecedented, turbulent, and emotionally tough on all of us.

When we think about 2021, we think of a fresh start, new goals, and a positive mindset. So how can you gift this mindset to your friends and family this holiday? Well it wouldn’t be a New Year without a new calendar and bullet journal — the staples in everyone’s “new year, new me” phase. These are some notebooks that we have our eyes on.

Other great 2021-centric stocking stuffers include: This light-up memory game for those looking to pass the time at home, but also to accomplish something semi-productive and growth-oriented. In the same vein, this puzzle-a-day desk topper might pique the interest of a few! Maybe you want a stocking-stuffer for the dog too?

5. Being present over giving presents: Opt out

Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes your actions speak louder than a gift. If you’re looking to really show your friends and family how much you care this season, consider going a little outside the (gift) box. Organize a special night in: maybe it includes your partner’s favourite meal (spaghetti carbonara), a nostalgic holiday movie (Home Alone, duh), pine scented candles, and some good old-fashioned conversation. Feel free to copy this idea.

If you do decide to opt out of gifts this year, you won’t be alone in your decision. According to a recent study, 59% of the 1,034 American adults surveyed plan to alter their gift-giving practices. The decision to not exchange gifts stems from financial concerns — with fifty-four percent of those surveyed for Credit Karma feeling more financially stressed about the holidays than they did last year. If you go this route, just promise us this: any Zoom call involved, or “experience” if you will, is accompanied by a holiday-themed background and some much-needed cheer!

Finally, we wanted to give you an opportunity to win a bit of money to help foot your holiday bills. When you refer a friend to KOHO from now until January 31st 2021, you’ll be entered into our referral contest to win one of our ten limited edition Metal Cards and our grand prize of $5,000. Plus, you and the referrer will get an extra 1% cash back for 90 days — just in time for your holiday shopping.

We hope we’ve helped you think up some special holiday gift ideas for your loved ones. Now stay safe, don’t forget to budget, and shop online when you can. Happy holidays, folks!

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