27 unique holiday gifts that can be personalized in thoughtful and unexpected ways

VNYL

  • Most gifts are vaguely personalized in that they might address an interest, hobby, or style preference of your recipient.
  • However, these 27 gifts are personalized in the true sense of the word. Whether they sport your recipient's name or stem from other aspects of their background, they're far from generic.
  • Need more gift ideas? Check out of all Insider Picks' holiday gift guides here.

Ideally, every gift you give would tick the boxes of thoughtful, unique, and custom-made. The recipient would feel that you had done your research, and that you had cared enough to spend the extra time required for something customized to ensure it would adequately represent them. It shows attention, care, and appreciation - most of what we're trying to communicate in our gift-giving, anyway.

Below you'll find 28 personalized gifts that feel a bit more 'personal' than many others. You can pay homage to their interests (their dog, their college town, their sports team) at the same time you gift them something useful to enjoy. It's the best of both worlds, and a great gifting strategy.
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Below are 27 personalized gifts that feel special and unique to give:

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Plan a trip for $25 per day that caters to their special interests

Plan a trip for $25 per day that caters to their special interests
Plan a personalized trip, available at Journy, from $25 per day

Journy is an online concierge system that makes personalized travel itineraries — complete with booking hotels and making restaurant reservations — and takes your personal suggestions, preferences, and feedback into account. It takes an incredible amount of stress out of travel, and it allows you to enjoy the anticipation of a trip without missing out on adventures. Use it as the perfect way to surprise a loved one with a trip catered to things they love. Read more in-depth about the service here.

A thoughtful map of their favorite place on earth

A thoughtful map of their favorite place on earth
Customized Poster, available at Grafomap, from $49

Grafomap is a website that lets you design posters with maps of any place in the world. You can make one of their hometown, college town, or favorite travel destination — you're only limited by your imagination.

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A pillow that's a permanent reminder of their best friend

A pillow that's a permanent reminder of their best friend
Canvas Print Pillow, available at CanvasPop, from $39

If they love their pet more than pretty much anything in the world, a pillow immortalizing them is a pretty thoughtful gift they're unlikely to already have. It's also bound to be good for some future entertainment. You can also get them a custom painting if that's more their style.

A gold letter charm from an ethical jewelry startup

A gold letter charm from an ethical jewelry startup
Mini Gold Letter Charm Pendant, available at AUrate, $200

AUrate makes beautiful, personalized letter charms that are meant to represent a no-compromise mix of quality, price, and ethical practices. They use luxury materials like 14-karat gold, original designs, transparent pricing, and sustainable production. In partnership with Mastery Charter, the startup has also given thousands of books to NYC students and schools.

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A leather toiletry case they can take with them on trips for years to come

A leather toiletry case they can take with them on trips for years to come
Double Zip Toiletry Bag, available at Leatherology, $120 [add monogram for $10 and up]

This luxe Double Zip bag is one accessory I never travel without. The dual compartments keep all essentials close, and the leather ages into something soft and personal over time. If you're looking for wallets, travel gift sets, or duffels instead, you can find pretty much any leather good at a good price and superior quality here — most available for monogramming.

A membership that hand selects new vinyl records based on their music tastes each month

A membership that hand selects new vinyl records based on their music tastes each month
Three-Month VNYL Gift Membership Subscription, available at VNYL, $99.97 (originally $120)

VNYL's team of curators studies your music profile — assembled via a quiz and connected Spotify, Soundcloud, Instagram, etc. — to hand-pick new albums that they think you'll love. Then, they send you a vinyl of their tailored pick to your door. If your giftee is a music-lover and has a record player, this is a cool subscription that will help them discover even more music to love.

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Customizable Nikes, available at Nike, from $90

Customizable Nikes, available at Nike, from $90
Customizable Nikes, available at Nike, from $90 (originally $95)

Nike makes great stuff, and they're popular for that reason. But it's nice to get the benefits of the big budget, years of product development, and design team without forsaking what makes something unique. You can customize a pair of Nike's for them, or gift them a gift card so they can get creative making something one-of-a-kind on their own.

A personal styling service that helps them build their closet

A personal styling service that helps them build their closet
Gift Card, available at Stitch Fix, from $20

Shopping can be difficult and time-consuming, which is where the stylists at Stitch Fix come in. A great gift for busy people, the service delivers the newest trends and styles to fit any occasion and price point.

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Tumblers personalized for family members' hobbies

Tumblers personalized for family members' hobbies
Personalized Hobby Tumblers, available at Uncommon Goods, from $32

These fun tumblers celebrate each family member's unique passions — letting them feel seen and appreciated by you as well as enjoy seeing themselves in fun illustrations.

A silk cashmere robe from a cool startup, paired with tools for a day off

A silk cashmere robe from a cool startup, paired with tools for a day off
Khimori Silk Cashmere Robe, available at Naadam, $175 [add a monogram for $10]

Naadam makes some of the best (and best priced) cashmere we've tried, and they've got a unique and feel-good origin story that makes for good background on the gift itself. This silk cashmere robe looks and feels luxurious — and like it should cost more than $175. Get it monogrammed for $10, and pair it with their favorite creature comforts for a well-deserved self-care day.

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An engraved shave set

An engraved shave set
Winston Set, available at Harry's, from $25 [add engraving for $15]

If he takes pride in having nice tools or taking the necessary grooming routine as time for himself, he'll appreciate Harry's luxe gift set. It can be engraved for $15, and the special Winston handle is weighty, die-cast zinc with a polished chrome finish. The German-engineered blades come with a travel cover so they don't dull during travel, and the Foaming Shave Gel works up to a rich lather.

A custom Xbox controller

A custom Xbox controller
Customized Xbox Controller, available at Xbox Design Lab, from $69.99

Design a personalized Xbox controller for them that no one else will have, getting as granular as deciding the style of the ABXY keys. There are 19 standard body color options, and each step comes with more opportunities for customization.

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A coffee subscription that caters to their taste preferences

A coffee subscription that caters to their taste preferences
Three-Month Subscription, available at Driftaway, from $44

Driftaway is a gourmet coffee subscription that gets smarter the longer you use it — remembering your preferences and steering you towards increasingly accurate brews for your palette. The first shipment is a tasting kit with four coffee profiles, which users rate online or in the app for the site to use as a flavor baseline. If they love coffee, this is a great way to ensure they'll discover new favorites and enjoy each morning cup.

A made-to-measure suit

A made-to-measure suit
Gift Card, available at Indochino, from $50

Nothing feels quite as bespoke as a custom-made suit. The startup Indochino just makes that gift a bit more achievable, and a lot less expensive.

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Bath towels embroidered with a monogram or full word

Bath towels embroidered with a monogram or full word
Piped Edge Starter Pack, available at Weezie, $230 [add embroidery for $15 per towel]

Weezie's soft and fluffy organic cotton towels are already gift-worthy on their own. To make them even more covetable, add embroidery. You can go with the classic monogram in a variety of eye-catching styles, or spell out an entire name in a cursive script. There are a few embroidery colors that are more unique, like bright pink and mint.

A leather passport case that's perfectly sized for airplane tickets

A leather passport case that's perfectly sized for airplane tickets
Classic Passport Case, available at Cuyana, $95 [add monogram for $10]

I call this relatively simple passport holder one of my best travel buys. It's sized a bit longer than traditional cases to fit airplane tickets, so its owner can keep everything from business cards, their passport, and their ticket all in one easy-to-find spot. Like all of Cuyana's leather pieces, the pebbled passport case looks and feels high-end. It comes in four classic colors: black, navy, red, and stone, and can be monogrammed for $10 to add personalization.

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A print of their favorite lyric, poem, or quote

A print of their favorite lyric, poem, or quote
Custom Quotes, available at Minted, from $32

Get their favorite lyric, poem, or quote printed for them so they can be reminded often of something that inspires or brings them joy. It's especially special that you remembered what it was. Minted is a cool company that curates what it carries based on design competitions, with the Minted community voting on what is eventually sold — but, if you'd like more options, Etsy also has great ones.

A zodiac necklace that mixes luxury with personalization

A zodiac necklace that mixes luxury with personalization
Capricorn Necklace, available at Mejuri, $79

Mejuri's popular zodiac necklaces are a great way to gift jewelry that manages to feel both luxurious and intimate — something that can be lacking in refined gifts. The Canadian startup as a whole is a unique mix of approachability and elegance, which may be why they're known for wait lists that top out at 40,000 people.

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A box of fan gear that honors their favorite sports team

A box of fan gear that honors their favorite sports team
Boston Bruins Fanchest 3, available at Fanchest, from $59

Whether this means you'll be attending frigid tailgates with them or releases you from it, a box of team gear is a great gift for any avid sports fan.

27 unique holiday gifts that can be personalized in thoughtful and unexpected ways

27 unique holiday gifts that can be personalized in thoughtful and unexpected ways
Personalized Suitcase, available at Away, from $250

These monogrammed suitcases are hand-painted by a lettering artist in New York City and take two to three weeks to ship, so plan accordingly. With their smart features, compact design, and variety of color options, they're worth the wait.

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Another type of customized travel gear

Another type of customized travel gear
Gift a Roam Gift Card, from $55

If monograms aren't their style, they might be better off with a Roam carry-on. Nine parts of the lightweight hardshell suitcase are customizable, allowing them to flex their creative color chops.

A wine subscription that sends high-end wine by the glass based on their preferences

A wine subscription that sends high-end wine by the glass based on their preferences
Six-Month Gift subscription, available at Vinebox, $158

Vinebox sends a personalized wine flight to their door that's curated based on their personal tastes and preferences. It comes four times per year (so, a six-month membership means two boxes). Each vial is portioned to be one full glass of fine wine, and members get $15 towards full-sized bottles each quarter.

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A nice marble cutting board with their initial at the top

A nice marble cutting board with their initial at the top
Marble and Copper Monogram Boards, available at Williams-Sonoma, from $26.99 (originally $39.95)

If they love to cook, or they love Williams-Sonoma, you can't go wrong with a marble cutting board with their initial in copper at the top. It's useful, modern, and personal without being over-the-top. Pair the gift with a nice wine and cheese for their next night in.

A photo calendar

A photo calendar
Brass Easel and Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, from $55

This classy, solid brass piece makes a beautiful desktop display. The personalized selection of photos makes an ordinary calendar feel more special — but choosing only 12 of your favorite photos could prove to be difficult.

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An embroidered T-shirt

An embroidered T-shirt
Women's Fitted Crew, available at Known Supply, $28 [add monogram for $10] Men's Crew Neck, available at Known Supply, $32 [add monogram for $10]

Known Supply's ultra-soft tees are the perfect addition to their basics drawer. They're made from Pima cotton, which only gets more comfortable with each wash.

A vitamin-and-supplement subscription

A vitamin-and-supplement subscription
Gift Card, available at Care/of, from $30

Before Care/of, gifting a pack of vitamins would be strange, but the company has somehow normalized the process with its personalized packaging and even more personalized vitamin plans. After taking a quiz, they'll learn which vitamins and supplements they need the most and get them conveniently delivered to their house.

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Shampoo and conditioner designed for their specific hair needs

Shampoo and conditioner designed for their specific hair needs
Gift Card, available at Function of Beauty, from $39

To get their personalized hair care, they'll start with a quiz that asks them about their hair concerns and needs. The final formulation they receive addresses those needs, and is also free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, and GMOs. Plus, the bottle labels will feature their name.