22 Heartfelt Gift Ideas from the Ace Sisters
Updated: Oct 5
Giving a thoughtful gift to someone is an incredibly special thing for both sides of the relationship. In this post, I am giving you a plethora of ideas inspired by gifts given by my sisters and I.
I grew up in a household where gift giving was not taken lightly.
First of all, I have 3 sisters, and two of which, Jackie and Joanna, are among the most creative gift givers I’ve ever known. Not only are they artistically proficient, but they are also extremely thoughtful and determined to see ideas through.
Our family’s knack for gift giving tracks back to Christmases of my youth. Each year, my sisters and my brother would exchange gifts we specifically picked out for each other.
At the age of 5, I remember perusing the tables of a pop-up Catholic school gift shop with my plastic baggy full of birthday money and a list of 8 people to shop for (including parents and grandparents). I happily spent it all.
I suppose it was growing up in a household that shared the same sentiment towards gift giving that led us to carry this tradition into the lives of everyone we care for.
I think we can all relate to that moment when we receive a gift, and it makes us feel truly noticed and cared for. It is gifts that express what words can’t or often don’t.
My sisters and I thrive off of this. We love how gift giving combines creativity, productivity, kindness, and friendship all into one project.
Here is our inspiration and advice condensed into one great list. Some may call it extra, but I guarantee you that each recipient felt an extreme sense of love when they opened their present. That’s what it is all about.
IDEAS FOR HEARTFELT GIFT GIVING
EVERY SINGLE ONE of these ideas were gifts that my sisters and I had once made for others. They are broken down into 3 categories: made, purchased, or planned. Enjoy!
GIFTS THAT WERE MADE
Create a scrapbook. For my roommate’s 21st birthday, I put together a patched together notebook. It included embarrassing pictures, drink suggestions, and stickers that said “If found, return to Ace.” For my one-year anniversary with my boyfriend, Cole, I put together a scrapbook, and, as a surprise, Cole decided to continue it for our second year. We have given it back and forth now for 5 years, and I love our tradition so much.
Depending on how artistic you are, paint something; a picture, wall art, coasters, or an ornament. My sister Jackie is very talented, and she has painted SO many gifts. She painted a photograph of my sister’s wedding, drew a baby bunny for my niece’s nursery, and created ornaments of her family’s pets.
Roast your recipient. For graduation, I put together a PowerPoint to roast my roomie as a rite of passage. It was entitled Living with Rick. I gave the presentation to her family and shared all of the rules you would need to know if you were going to live with Rick.
The way to the heart is through the stomach… or is that an expression for middle aged men? Bake something you know the recipient will enjoy; cookies, banana bread, or a beautifully decorated cake.
Create Open When Letters. This is a Pinterest classic. If you want details on the letters I made for my sister and Cole, check out the post I already made about it here!
Make a Survival Guide from the lens of the recipient. This basically combines the roast and the scrapbook. For my sister from my other sister, she created Jackie’s Guide for Success with 100 life tips. Each tip had its own page and little cartoon. It was over the top, extremely accurate, and so enjoyable to read.
Make a video to commemorate an occasion. We saw a lot of these to commemorate graduates over the pandemic, but we don't have to be socially distant to create a video full of messages from friends and family for someone special. This is a great thing to do for someone's birthday when there isn't much going on to celebrate, plus it's totally free.
Use your gifts to make a gift. I’ve used my hobbies to make some thoughtful gifts along the way like creating a floral arrangement as a house warming gift or creating a cute, professional-looking design for THON letters I wrote for my college friends.
GIFTS THAT WERE PURCHASED
Give as many gifts to someone as they are old. For Cole’s 18th birthday, I gave him 18 gifts. Some of the gifts included Harry Potter glasses for his childhood obsession, fake mustaches as a jab for him not being able to grow a mustache, silly socks, a picture of us together, and so on.
Etsy is your friend; buy a personalized illustration of them, or their dog, or a necklace or a bottle of wine or a bottle opener. Etsy is a great resource, so plan in advance!
Put together a themed package. For my sister’s friend’s bridal shower, she put together a picnic basket full of contents that would create the perfect picnic; a blanket, serving utensils, etc. For my one friend’s birthday, I put together a basket full of flowers, baked goods, and candle so she could celebrate the day with a little self love.
Buy something that shines a light on something really meaningful. If someone you care for is struggling with something, I have learned that it is better to acknowledge it than to ignore it or wait for that person to confide in you. I am really appreciative of my friends for teaching this to me. Because of this, I have given rosary beads to those that are religious for strength and sentimental stuffed animals for comfort. Heartfelt gifts during difficult times are a beautiful thing.
Capitalize on what they enjoy. Sometimes it’s hard to get creative with gifts, but this idea lies in plain sight. Take something the recipient loves and give multiple variations of it to them. For example, if your friend loves Reese’s, give them every style of the candy. If your mom loves coffee, get her a bunch of new flavors/brands to try out. If your roommate loves the Office, get him a plethora of tacky office paraphernalia.
Put together a care package. Fill it with treats and mementos that are specific to the recipient. If it’s last minute, hit up your local target and snag a couple things to match your “Well Wishes Back to School” theme. If you’ve got some time, make chocolate covered pretzels that match your “Christmas is Almost Here and Finals are Almost Over” theme.
You got Venmo? Whether it’s your friend’s birthday or they are stressed and could use a pick-me-up, simply venmoing someone so they can grab a cup of coffee on you is really thoughtful.
Take someone out for dinner. Simply catching up with someone over great food is always a good idea (exception: pandemic). If you’re comfortable meeting up in an outdoor setting, you can grab takeout together and catch up on your back porch.
Send them some baked goodies. I like to send people Insomnia cookies to show them a little love for their achievements or bad days. I remember my friend’s car got towed so I sent her some fresh baked Insomnia cookies so she could eat her feelings.
Masking for a friend (creds to creative Joanna). This is such a cute, relevant idea, whether you sew the mask yourself (made category) or buy ones with prints the recipient would enjoy, like Minnie Mouse or avocados.
GIFTS THE WERE PLANNED
Plan a scavenger hunt for the recipient in their favorite city or hometown. My sister created a scavenger hunt in Pittsburgh for her best friend’s 22nd birthday. Each stop was a new surprise like taking kayaking on the Alleghany. She bought a polaroid camera to document the day.
Throw them a surprise party. It can be at your home with a theme the person will love (like Schitts Creek, the Office, Casino Night, etc.) or out at a public place that is special to the person. We surprised my college roommate with a bunch of her friends at a bar with a baby birthday cake.
Let your presence be the gift. If you haven’t been able to see your high school gal pal or partner for a while, consider surprising them with a visit. Cole lived in Virginia one summer (7hrs away from me) so I booked a 4-day trip to see him for his birthday. Bonus points if you make it a surprise. To see the unannounced face of someone I care for gets me every time.
CATEGORY COMBO EXAMPLE
For my Mimi’s 80th birthday, my family rolled up to her house in a party bus wearing matching shirts that said “Cat Lady Turns 80.” My sister drew the shirts complete with a cartoon Mimi holding her cat and a glass of Chardonnay. After the surprise, they headed to a winery to celebrate.
That's my Mims. Ain't she cute? :)
A SMALL NOTE IF YOU MADE IT THIS FAR
There have been quite a few times when I give gifts to friends, or acquaintances even, that whoever I’m giving the gift to will show a sense of guilt. “You didn’t need to do this, Jess.”
I find this so perplexing even if it has become commonplace.
I know that I did not need to make it. I did not need to spend 5 hours putting together a fake floral bouquet for you. I did, however, because you deserve to receive kindness. We all do.
My gift is not a reflection of what you haven’t given. It’s just a gift, an act of kindness.
If you relate to what I am describing, then ask yourself why you feel that sense of guilt or discomfort. If you feel like you should do better for someone, then do better for someone.
I don’t relate to this unsettled feeling, so I don’t know where it comes from. I wanted to comment on it, though, because I see it too often. I wish kindness didn’t come off as calculated. From my sisters and I, it certainly is not.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – Saint Francis of Assisi