Ways to Personalize the Holidays

With the fast pace of the holiday season, it can feel impersonal and rushed. I mean, how exciting is it to give or receive a gift card? You can take back the spirit of the season by taking a more personal approach to the holidays. How? Well, from ordering meaningful and personalized gifts for loved ones and choosing to only attend holiday events where you can truly be present, there are many simple and straightforward ways to personalize the holidays.

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Rethink Your Holiday Bucket List

One of the most commonly searched for content on my blog involves “Bucket Lists.” No matter the season, they are always popular because parents really want to make the most out of the time they have with their kids. And while I don’t fault them for that (I mean, I’m the one who WRITES the lists!), I challenge you to re-think your holiday bucket list. Instead of thinking of what to do, how about you focus on who you really want to spend time with over the holiday season?


I have had the same wonderful friend (and blog reader—hey, Linds!) ever since she moved onto my street in the fourth grade. Every Christmas season we get together with our families to do something festive. Sounds pretty common, right? Well, the thing that makes us unique is that we don’t really care what we do—we just want to get together. So when planning our family dates, we focus on finding time to set aside to be together and then fill it in with an activity. Oh, and in case you were wondering, we have enjoyed the Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, the Polar Express out of Union Station, and this year we will be enjoying Illumination together—and I would highly recommend ALL of them.


Think About How You Want People to Feel

The holidays can be incredibly hard for some people, so I tend to check up on those who I know might be struggling during the holidays. Whether it is just a text, an additional note written on our family’s holiday card, a coffee date, or a day spent together blissfully unplugged, I know it means the world to them—and for me, too. Baking from the heart is never turned down, either.


I also want to note that you can consider just about everyone’s feelings during the holidays because it is a stressful time for just about everyone. My favorite holiday hack? Creating a care package on my front step for the numerous mail carriers and delivery drivers who make my life so much easier over the holidays. I fill it with treats, snacks, hand warmers, and a note of gratitude because I appreciate them so very much—and they put up with our awful Chicago weather!

Take Help From the Store

Nowadays there are so many great ways to give someone a truly personalized gift without having to go through much work. And even better? Personalized gifts are the perfect way to show your appreciation for just about everyone on your holiday list.


For Grandparents

Framed children’s artwork

While they might consist of stick figures and reversed words, there is nothing more special than a child’s artwork. Turn grandchildren’s drawings into museum quality artwork with Minted. Simply upload a photo to the Minted website and they will transform it into an art print. It is available in foil-printed, letter-pressed, or in standard printing with a variety of colors. No drawings handy? You can create an artistic photo collage that rivals anything you will find at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Decorative pillows

Want to make grandma and grandpa’s house even cozier over the holidays? Then scoop up a personalized pillow for them. We love the “Who Needs Santa When You Have Nana” pillow because it suits our family perfectly, but you can customize a pillow to say absolutely anything over on Dazzle.

Photo book

There is no better way to commemorate time together than through photos. Shutterfly has photo book options at all price levels so that you can customize memorable photo books for grandma and grandpa. You can even connect your social media accounts so all you have to do is click and POOF! Your beautiful photo book is complete.



For Parents

Initial necklaces

While I typically have something on me that simply SCREAMS “Mommy!” at all times (spit up milk, bags under my eyes, stretch marks–you get the drift), there is nothing more special than a piece of jewelry that showcases your mom status. Stella and Dot features tons of personalized necklaces, whether you are looking for initials, birthstones, or your own personal message.

Return address stamps

You can personalize your holiday cards…and the return stamp as well! Not only does it save time, there are tons of adorable designs to choose from to really showcase your family’s personality.

Wine and cocktail glasses

Let’s be honest…sometimes you need a stiff drink after a day of parenting. So why not make happy hour a bit more special with personalized wine and cocktail glasses?


For Kids

I SEE ME books

Personalized stories make story time even more magical. There are tons of books available to personalize, from holiday themed books to “evergreen” tales that kids will want to read all year long.

Name puzzles

There will be no fighting over toys when they are personalized. There are more standard options like these name puzzles, or cute ways to personalize a train set or a set of alphabet blocks.

Sports Bags

While shuttling from school to practice, packing doesn’t have to be. Simply scoop up one of the many sports/overnight bags available at Shutterfly and customize the fabric, color, and font.

Even better? You can put all of these thoughtful gifts inside a personalized Santa sack (no wrapping means much more time for Hallmark movies!).

Don’t forget to check out my tips for how to simplify your holiday season.

Here’s to having a special and slow, personalized holiday.
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  1. Amber says

    Grandparents are always the hardest to shop for on my list. I have such a hard time every year. A personalized pillow is a nice idea though!

    • Amanda says

      Agreed! All of the rushing around has definitely caught up to me so I’m thankfully planning a slow and intentional day today.

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