My sister asked me to share some ideas for gift alternatives.  In her words, "Not just sheep in Guatemala, but other alternatives."

Alternative gift-giving can be a scary prospect.  Beware that it will often involve a lot of work and planning, but the payoff can be wonderful.  A few years ago, I got a gift from my Mom and my brother that was just perfect for me.  They found a copy of my favorite Christmas album, Evening in December (see the little picture there on the right?), in the original vinyl.  Along with the album, they had a photo from First Call autographed personally for me.  How fantastic was that?  A few years before that, my Mom was able to get Paula Deen to autograph one of her cookbooks for me.  That's something I'll always treasure.

Here are a few ideas that I've gathered from around the web.  Some of these I've actually done myself!

Create a Family Cookbook
Put your family's favorite recipes in a cookbook.  The great thing about this idea is that it can be as simple or as elaborate as you'd like.  You can buy a recipe binder ( has a lot of really cute ones) and print out the recipes on decorative papers.  Or you could use a site like, Shutterfly, or Heritage Cookbooks to print your book.  (Just make sure you check to see what the minimum book order is first.)  I think it would be great to include photos of the family around the holidays from throughout the years. 

Make a Personalized Calendar
This is an especially great gift for grandparents-- make a calendar with photos of all the grandbabies!  Sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish make this very easy.  You can even customize the calendar by putting in dates for family birthdays and anniversaries.

I found this idea on and I think it's fabulous.  If you have a book lover in your life, ask a few people whom they respect or admire to give you a list of their five favorite books, along with a little note about why they chose each one.  Then, try to find the books in a used bookstore (or you could do it online through  Include the notes with each book along with the name of the person who recommended it.

Share a Skill
Do you have a friend who's always envied your ability to knit?  Bake?  Tie a bow?  Give them some lessons and gift them with the ability to do something they've always wanted to do!

Make a CD of your favorite music to give out to your friends.  It could be a mix from your favorite decade, favorite bands, or just some of your favorite songs.  It's up to you!

I found a few links around the web with lots of great ideas for gift alternatives.  Check out these sites:
If you have any other ideas for alternative gifts, please leave them in the comments!

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