Everyone knows that the supply chain is a hot mess right now, threatening to stall holiday gifts for who knows how long. There's no reason to let the Grinch win this go-round, however. Outsmart the forces beyond our control and opt instead for holiday gifts that won't get caught in the logjam. Here are nine terrific ideas.
1. Make a Donation
How many infinity scarves does one person really need? Instead of plunking down cash for another mass-produced good, make a donation to a charity that's near and dear to the recipient's heart. Is the intended recipient an animal lover? Donate to a local rescue or animal shelter. Are they politically active? Give to a campaign they support. You get the idea.
2. Gift a New Skill
This is perfect for the person who always wanted to learn how to cook or paint or play an instrument, but never got around to it. Find a class near them at the local university or community center, then pre-pay the tuition. Or, gift them an annual membership to MasterClass, which offers online classes by some pretty cool teachers. For example, Annie Leibovitz teaches photography, Timbaland teaches producing and beat-making and Simone Biles educates viewers on gymnastics fundamentals.
3. Find a Thrift Shop Treasure
Sure, the shiny new Xbox or PlayStation or i-whatever is always a hit, but stuff like that isn't likely to satisfy the person with vintage tastes. Hit your local thrift shops and cull through the items for a truly personal, unique find. People donate all kinds of stuff, from home decor to books of shocking value. As an added bonus, this is a more environmentally sustainable method of gift-giving than purchasing lots of brand-new stuff.
4. Arrange for a Cameo Appearance
Is the recipient a longtime fan of Troy Aikman? How about Kareem Abdul-Jabar or Drew Brees? Give them a little face time with a personalized video from someone they admire or otherwise find entertaining. Heck, if you have an extra $20,000 lying around, spring for a Cameo from boxer Mike Tyson! It's not just athletes who'll do a video, either. Actors, musicians and other celebrity-types are available for as little as $10 or $20! Warning, the more current and relevant they are, the more they are likely to charge.
5. Provide a Service
This is great especially for those gift-givers who are short on cash. Print out an IOU for any kind of service, like babysitting, car washing, lawn mowing or whatever you're good at. The key is to make sure you make good on the offer, though. Follow up a week or two after the holiday with your availability or to put a date on the calendar.
6. Gift a Gift Card
Everyone loves a gift card, and they make them for pretty much everything these days. Pick one up for the recipient's favorite store or restaurant. Or grab one for a service they're likely to use, like Uber, Airbnb or DoorDash.
7. Buy American
If the product is already stateside, chances are better that it'll be delivered in time. Go directly to the sites of American companies to place your order. For example, instead of having French Champagne delivered, opt for a handle of Jack Daniel's whiskey. Check websites like Made in America or this Consumer Reports list for more places to shop.
8. Make Something
If you quilt, crochet, whittle, can vegetables, paint or have some other fabulous skill, make something special for your loved one. Even if you're not a trained artist there are thousands of DIY videos online for heartfelt gifts that only require time and some basic materials.
9. Give a Subscription
Keep the joy going on all year with a monthly or quarterly subscription for food or flowers. A few great options are Driftaway Coffee, Murray's Cheese of the Month Club or Rancho Gordo Bean Club!
It's a holiday unlike any other, but at least it's happening in person this year. Make the most of it with gifts that are both thoughtful and well thought out in advance!