How to buy unique gifts this holiday season


This time of year, we’re all looking for a unique gift for that special someone, an item so thoughtful and considerate that you’ll be a star in their eyes. 

You may spend hours, days and weeks scouring online marketplaces, shopping malls and big-box retail stores in search of that elusive perfect gift. Unfortunately, time passes and the holiday quickly approaches, but you still haven’t found “THE” gift. So you reluctantly pick up “A” gift and call it a day. All hope is not lost, though. The perfect gift is still out there, and you still have time to buy it. 

Perhaps the reason you didn’t find that magical gift is you were looking in the wrong places. You’re likely not going to find a unique gift at a high-volume retailer at the mall. Those stores and websites carry the same mass-produced items that you, your neighbor, your co-workers and your friends can all buy. Instead, why not give a gift with a little extra, feel-good benefit supporting a great cause? This year, it’s especially important to support local businesses and organizations that are still recovering from disruptions caused by Hurricane Ian. 

Across Southwest Florida, resale shops, thrift stores, farmer’s markets, and arts and crafts shows feature one-of-a-kind items sure to win the hearts of everyone on your gift list. Below are five suggestions to find an original gift this holiday season: 

  • Tableware: When it comes to tableware, plain is out and patterns are in. Casserole dishes, serving trays, platters, charcuterie boards, decanter sets, fruit or salad bowls, mix and match cocktail glasses, ramekins and gravy boats should be unique. 
  • Accessories: In fashion design, there are only so many styles and colors of shirts, dresses and slacks. Buying one of those items is a risk that you’ll double-up on something or select the wrong size. Instead, accessorize. Jewelry, purses, scarves and hats can complement nearly any outfit. 
  • Artwork: Southwest Florida is home to many wealthy individuals who redecorate every few years. Most don’t hold yard sales to get rid of items; they donate items to nonprofits that operate resale shops. Their donations include original paintings, sculptures and drawings, including pieces created by acclaimed artists.
  • Vintage: There is a difference between vintage and old. Vintage items date back a few decades, are quality products, resurrect feelings of nostalgia and are in short supply. Vintage fashion is common, but vintage furniture like sitting chairs, end tables, lamps, vases, tchotchkes and kitchen plates are terrific finds.
  • Alternative uses: You cannot get more original than a repurposed item. Manufacturers create a porcelain vase, for example, to hold flowers, but a little paint and artistic creativity can turn it into a statement piece like no other. 

These items likely won’t come in factory-sealed boxes or containers, and that’s OK. You can showcase your creativity through an elaborate gift-wrapping project, such as baking your favorite family recipe into a newly found casserole dish or by providing cheese, sausage and crackers along with a kitchen knife set. 

They say it’s the thought that counts, so a little outside-the-box shopping and wrapping can indeed generate unique gift ideas this holiday season.