Here's How I'm Finding Meaningful Gifts Online This Holiday Season — and Why It's So Important

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, but things are going to look pretty different this holiday season for my husband, toddler, and I. We've been carefully abiding by COVID-19 quarantine rules; we haven't even been inside a grocery store since March. Of course, that means we won't be hosting a holiday party, visiting family, or making trips to the mall to shop for gifts this year. While this is all disappointing, I'm just grateful we're all healthy.

While the pandemic has made in-person holiday shopping a no-go for us this year, it certainly doesn't mean we can't still buy gifts. No, we won't be able to shop at our local malls and admire the beautiful decorations — one of my favorite holiday activities — but thanks to online shopping, we have every gift option imaginable at our fingertips.

Of course, some of the standard gifts we buy will also need to be adjusted this year. For example, I usually get my dad a huge stack of scratch-off lottery tickets and a gift card for his favorite airline. My mom usually gets something along the lines of a sweater and a statement necklace to wear out to lunch with her friends. As retirees, they're also spending most of their time at home, so these standard gifts certainly aren't pandemic friendly.

It's been a hard year for everyone, so I think it's important to put a lot of thought into what holiday gifts are appropriate for life in a pandemic.

It's been a hard year for everyone, so I think it's important to put a lot of thought into what holiday gifts are appropriate for life in a pandemic — and thankfully, the internet delivers. You can purchase just about anything from the comfort and safety of your home. I'm finding meaningful gifts by taking several factors into consideration, including what the recipient has been missing most this year, gifts that could brighten their daily quarantine life, and personalized items that will make them feel special. These gifts don't have to be expensive, as now more than ever, it's truly the thought that counts; people know the difference between a gift given in haste and one chosen for them.

Personally, I've been thinking outside the box to come up with unique ideas that fit the 2020 holiday season. One of my favorite possibilities so far is having dinner from a favorite restaurant delivered — or shipped, as many restaurants are able to do this for out-of-town diners. I also like the idea of buying a digital subscription to a favorite newspaper, as many are behind a paywall and there's never been a time that we need to be more informed.

Gifts to quell the restlessness some of us are experiencing in quarantine may be a little more obvious, but not the least bit less thoughtful. I've been mulling ideas like subscription services, board games, and gourmet snack boxes to spice up life at home for my loved ones. Even an extraplush or fun pair of new sweats could be a hit since they're the wardrobe staple these days — well, definitely in my wardrobe.

While more time consuming, I'm also considering getting a little more creative with some of my gifts. Things like custom photo books and personalized stationary are extra special since they're unique to the recipient. The time investment actually adds to the appeal for me, since I know whoever receives the gift will know I wanted to do something just for them.

I'm determined not to let the pandemic ruin the holidays for myself and my loved ones. I'm so grateful to the warehouse workers and drivers that will get my gifts delivered for allowing us to enjoy a little sense of normalcy during these unprecedented times. Yes, things will be very different this year, but I'm hoping my focus on giving extrameaningful gifts will help add a little more sparkle to everyone's season.