Earn major points without spending tons of time (or money), thanks to this holiday gift hack.

By Kristin Appenbrink and Maggie Seaver
Updated December 03, 2019
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Just because a gift is last minute doesn’t mean it can’t feel thoughtful. But when shopping collides with an already overflowing to-do list, it can turn into a recipe for yet another generic gift card. With the holiday madness in full swing, one smart trick is to make gift-giving a no brainer. How? By choosing a signature gift you can give everyone on your list.

While it might seem impersonal at first, choosing a go-to gift that can be personalized will ensure it always feels thoughtful—especially if the customization goes beyond just a name. Plus, it’ll make it easier to project your gift budget throughout the year. Try selecting a new gift for each calendar year so that you’re not repeating presents for your close friends and family.

Of course, you’ll probably want to choose different gifts for some people on your list—like your partner, children, or parents. But since those are likely the people closest to you, shopping is usually easier. Ready to choose your signature gift for this holiday season? Look for something that’s budget-friendly, customizable, and quick to ship. Here are seven great ideas to get you started.

1. A Personalized Journal or Notepad

Whether you choose one that’s embossed, embroidered, or custom printed, you can never go wrong with personalized stationery. Plus, it’s something your friends won’t normally splurge on for themselves.

Our Pick: Bordered List Notepad

With a simple, neutral design, this notepad can be customized in an array of colors. It can also include the recipient’s name or their favorite phrase.

To buy: $8; shutterfly.com.

2. Birth Date Newspaper

Ideal for a birthday gift or Christmas gift, but great for any time of year, finding the hometown paper from your friend’s birthday seems more complicated than it actually is.

Our Pick: The Day You Were Born Newspaper

Select the hometown newspaper for your friend or family member and Any Date will do their best to get it. If they can’t track down the specific paper, they have a short list of national newspapers that you can give instead. How cool is that?

To buy: $55; anydate.com.

3. Curated Gift Basket

Another great way to go about personalizing one gift idea for everyone on your list is to choose a bundle of goodies, but customize the package to their style and personality.

Our Pick: Spa Kit

Your local CVS is the ideal place to grab a last-minute gift. This season, stock up on a curated spa gift for everyone on your list: Peppermint aromatherapy, Warmies slippers, and a Spa gift card placed in a ribbon-tied gift bag.

To buy: cvs.com.

4. Custom Tote Bag

It’s a fact of modern life that you can never have too many reusable tote bags. Why not give your friends and family members ones only they could carry? Skip putting their name on the tote in favor of their favorite catchphrase (or hashtag) or a design with their favorite colors or past time.

Our Pick: Personalized Colorblock Tote Bags

These sturdy totes are designed by Etsy vendor BD Activewear and come in a variety of neutral colors, with the option to add a name or initials in metallic lettering. It takes just a few minutes to create a personalized bag for everything from groceries to yoga and beyond.

To buy: $13; etsy.com.

5. Vanity Keychain

Don’t worry, we aren’t talking about those name plate key chains you see on racks at the gas station. Instead these colorful tags are completely made to order.

Our pick: Various Key Tags

Instead of your recipient’s name, try choosing a funny phrase or inside joke really customize this fun gift. Since it’s smaller and less visible than a tote, you can make this keychain a bit sillier. Nothing come to mind? Go with their Instagram or Twitter handle.

To buy: $20; variouskeytags.com.

6. Monogrammed Goods

Don’t underestimate the appeal of a monogram. It adds a special touch to even the most sensible gifts. In the winter we love monogrammed blankets—in the summer you can switch to beach towels.

Our pick: Monogram Throw

Throw blankets are always appreciated when it’s freezing outside. You can never be too cozy, after all. If you don’t know what your friend’s home looks like, opt for a neutral color like gray or navy.

To buy: $69; potterybarn.com.

7. Family Gifts

Choosing a family gift can be a challenge, but opting for something personalized means everyone feels included.

Our pick: Personalized Family Mugs

With dozens of illustration combinations to choose from, you can give each family member their own likeness on a mug. Plus, it’s an easy gift to add to if your friends have growing families. Trust us, everyone will love opening up their mug

To buy: $85 for four mugs; uncommongoods.com.

  • By Kristin Appenbrink
  • By Maggie Seaver