The Christmas Gift Conundrum: What to Give Instead of Gift Cards

The scenario plays out like this: it’s 8pm, the day is winding down. The dishwasher is running with the dinner dishes, and the kitchen counters have been wiped down. A calming mug of tea is brewing, and you glance at the calendar. Tomorrow is the last day of school before Christmas break commences, and your heart stops. Teacher gifts. You’ve got nothing. With all the end-of-the-year parties, activities, and assignments, gifts for the kids’ teachers totally slipped your mind. Enter the gift card. 

The gift card is a general, seemingly generous way to give a future purchase at a designated shop or service. They are convenient and helpful, giving the user money to spend at their favorite retailer. Gift cards are perfect for a low to mid-range gift for someone you don’t know particularly well. However, on average $3 billion goes unused on gift cards each year. Which means, chances are high that the well-intentioned gift card you give the teachers will go unused. Because they’re convenient and not too personal, gift cards are the fall-back gift of choice, but we think you can do better with a little bit of forethought.


Our Christmas ornaments make great gifts. You can spend about the same as you would on a gift card, but give a gift that is more personal and beautiful than a gift card. With over 1,500 ornaments to choose from we have many themes, occupations, travel, animals and holiday-themed ornaments to choose from. If you are hosting a brunch, dinner or party, themed ornaments make perfect party favors or place setting gifts. We also have a tone of personalized Christmas ornaments to make each one unique to the person. Each of our glass-blown ornaments are securely wrapped in a small but sturdy box easy to wrap, and perfect for safe keeping and packing away. 

Themed Gifts

A bit more effort, and possibly more expense, goes into a themed gift. If it’s for a teacher, a travel mug with little seasonal supplies would be well received. If it’s a winter gift: a packet of hot chocolate mix, cozy socks, a cute mug, a nice-smelling lotion. For summer: sunscreen, bug spray, a pack of gum, a can of sparkling water and a coordinating coozie makes a fun mix of practical, usable items. For less work, a thoughtful subscription box makes a great and unexpected gift. A coffee subscription or fruit box are also practical gifts and not usually gifts people purchase for themselves. 

Baked Goods

It takes more time and planning than giving a gift card, but giving a baked gift is a thoughtful way to show you care. Plus, there are so many delicious treats to make! Plan out when the gift needs to be given, and don’t bake the item too soon so it is still fresh and delicious. Other treats like popcorn balls, caramels, fudge, and cake balls are always popular and less delicate than frosted cookies or cupcakes. 

Gift cards aren’t always the answer when it comes to gift giving. They are an easy, convenient option, but they aren’t very personal and many go wasted. Ornaments, specifically Old World Christmas ornaments always make great gifts (and not just at Christmas!), and we recommend shopping early for the best selection. Stock up your gift cabinet in the summer or fall for no-panic, last-minute gift giving. 

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Written by

Rachael Mitchell

Rachael Mitchell is a freelance writer based in Seattle, Washington, and has over 15 years of writing experience. She’d never be able to pick just one favorite ornament, but narrowed it down to the S’more and Tennis Ball. She always looks forward to s’mores in the summer with friends and family adding gourmet ingredients, and played 4 years of college tennis in the mid-west.

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