Are you getting tired of buying gifts for your loved ones that end up in the bin? Well, why not go for something a little different this year? Whether you’re shopping for birthdays, mother’s day or just treating someone special, we’ve found a fantastic range of ‘invisible and alternative gifts’!
You can’t hold, wrap them up or hand them over in a box, but they’re guaranteed to make a big impact and save you a packet in the process. Why not check out our hands-on buyer’s guide to the gifts that can’t be thrown away?
If you can’t afford a shiny new iPad, don’t fret! There are plenty of alternative gifts you can buy for techies to download straight onto their computers.
iTunes or Amazon gifts
For musical gifts, TV episodes or creating your own custom mix, the iTunes store has everything you’ll need, and it’s great for last-minute gifts. When you buy a gift, iTunes will immediately send an email to the recipient who’ll click on a link and the gift will start downloading.
Alternatively, you can buy a gift certificate for almost any denomination, so your friend can have their pick from the enormous iTunes digital library. Certificates can be emailed directly to a recipient or you can print one out and deliver it in person.
If you’ve got children who just love occupying your bandwidth with downloads, you can even set up a monthly iTunes allowance that enables them to download music legally without a credit card.
Amazon also offers eVouchers from as little as £1 which can be emailed or sent through the post if you prefer – Amazon offer next-day delivery on all eVouchers. These can be spent on the vast selection of books, music, eBooks and other goods sold on Amazon‘s website.
Buy a website
With their own domain your friend can upload pictures, write blogs and manage their own website – they could even set up a business.
A domain is basically just a name for a website, for example, http://www.moneymagpie.com/. In order to own a domain you have to register the name with the Internet Network Information Center (InterNIC).
You can do this through an accredited registrar. The most popular is GoDaddy.com which is currently selling domain names from £1.25! With GoDaddy.com you get a free ‘getting started’ guide, blog and starter page.
Giveaurl.com also has a range of special gift packs – which come with certificates of registration and advice on how to build your website – from $20 (about £12).
Why not give someone a memory? It’ll last longer than anything you can buy in a shop, so this Christmas give your loved ones an experience they’ll never forget.
Red Letter Days
You can give a gift card that’s redeemable against any Red Letter Day event, or a ‘perfect for…’ voucher for a package tailored for him, her, the kids or for whole families. Alternatively, you can buy a flexible gift pack that allows the recipient to choose from a range of fixed options.
Plan your own unique day out
For a cheaper alternative, why not plan your own unique day out? Organising it yourself will mean it’s completely personal.
You could do something as simple as cooking a gourmet meal at home or putting the kids in charge for a day. There are hundreds of things you can do that are absolutely free and provide the invaluable chance to spend time together.
Think of something that your friend or loved one has always wanted to do and then make it happen! It’ll give you both something to look forward to in those dull January days.
Everybody deserves a bit of pampering. Give someone the gift of luxury and relaxation and you’ll see the difference it makes.
Spafinder is a good place to look. They offer gift vouchers that are redeemable in over 5,000 spas worldwide and can be used for anything from a facial to a five-night stay in a Spanish spa. One voucher will buy a single treatment at a participating spa, but at £25 each they are expensive.
Alternatively, pamper your friend or partner yourself for absolutely nothing. Light a few scented candles, put on some relaxing music and massage those stressful thoughts away.
Etsy is a fantastic website for buying a unique handmade gift. It’s a marketplace for makers from all over the world. There’s a fabulous array of wares available; from knitwear to artworks to handmade jewellery. If you don’t want to choose yourself, you can buy an eVoucher which can be emailed to your lucky recipient so that they can choose something they like.
The gift of your time
A voucher for your time is an ideal gift for a friend that you don’t see very often or an older relative.
If you know someone who would value your company above any material gift, make a card with a promise that you’ll dedicate some time to them in the new year and let them decide how to spend it. It’s entirely free and is sure to be enormously appreciated.
Why not give someone a novelty gift with a difference?
Buyagift.co.uk has lots of really fun and unusual pressies up for grabs. Why not personalise a nice bottle of red wine for them for just £15? For footie fanatics a tour around their team’s stadium would go down very well, while nostalgic types will love a framed newspaper from the year they were born. Check out Buyagift’s full range of unusual gifts here.
From the ridiculous to the sublime – if you’re after something more intellectual we’ve got a roundup of the best invisible gifts for culture vultures.
For aspiring thespians there’s no better gift than Theatre Tokens. Available in denominations of £5, £10 or £20, they can be redeemed against tickets to plays, musicals, operas, ballets and pretty much anything that happens at a theatre.
There are participating venues across the UK, including many top theatres in London’s West End. You can also get gift packs for £34 or £54 that include a ‘Show Tunes’ CD with music from Chicago, Cabaret, Singing in the Rain and more.
Theatre Tokens are available to buy online or by phone on 0844 887 7878.
Membership of a gallery or a museum is a gift that keeps on giving. Many of the best art institutions have membership schemes that entitle you to free entry and all sorts of other discounts.
The Tate has an excellent scheme. From £62 for a year’s membership it’s not cheap, but the benefits are enormous: members get free entry to exhibitions at all Tate venues including Tate Liverpool, Tate Modern and Tate St Ives, as well as invitations to exclusive previews and talks.
You also get to use the members’ room at Tate Modern, which has unparalleled views of St Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge as well as a discount in the fantastic gift shop.
National Trust membership
Membership of the National Trust is indispensable to anyone with an interest in British heritage. From just £42 your friend or loved one can get free entry to more than 300 of the National Trust’s historic properties.
You can visit iconic buildings such as Lyme Park in Cheshire (where Colin Firth’s famous ‘wet shirt’ scene in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice was filmed) as well as many of your favourite film and TV locations.
Loads of National Trust properties are easily accessible by road and make a perfect pit stop on long journeys. Membership fees go towards preserving some of Britain’s finest landmarks, so your gift benefits everyone.
Simply pick the films you want online, view them in the comfort of your own home and then post them back. There are no late fees and a prepaid envelope is provided.
Subscription packages start at £15, which gets your friend two films a month for three months. If you spend over £24 your gift will be delivered free in a gift box including a free DVD or movie book.
For those of us who leave things until the last minute, a gift subscription can be emailed directly to a recipient or printed out to be delivered in person. The best thing about a LOVEFiLM subscription is that you can enjoy it together – so get the popcorn ready!
Cut out the middleman and give someone a charitable gift rather than something that just ends up in a charity shop.
Giving to charity on someone else’s behalf assuages consumer guilt and makes a gift more meaningful. The beneficiary also receives a personalised card, so they can see their donation in action.
The recipient gets a gift card, a magnet and in some cases a DVD, while your money goes to where it’s needed most.
The website is packed with information on Oxfam’s projects around the world and gifts are divided into special-interest categories so whether your friend is a foodie, an eco-warrior or an animal lover, you’re bound to find something for them.
World Gifts specialises in giving you two presents in one. Buy a friend or loved one a World Gifts bicycle or vegetable garden and they’ll receive a personalised card with details of exactly how their donation is making a difference.
World Gifts is run by CAFOD, a charity that supports impoverished communities. CAFOD supply not only food and water but education, training and healthcare as well.
There are also gifts for kids. Each one comes with a fun sheet with information on how their gift helps people, as well as games, jokes and puzzles.
Adopt an animal
WWF also works hard to tackle global warming, one of the biggest problems facing the natural world today. So adopting an animal helps to ensure the survival of the chosen species and the planet itself.
Adopting an animal is a great gift for kids; they’ll receive an adorable stuffed toy as well as a certificate and quarterly updates on how their animal is doing.