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When it comes to being a great gift-giver, there are so many different routes you can take. The perfect gift might be based in practicality or luxury and indulgence. For those partial to nostalgia, the best sentimental gifts will always win them over.
A sentimental gift does not only mean a hand-written note that’ll make them misty-eyed. To us, a sentimental gift is one that’s thoughtful and goes the extra mile in showing the person on the other end of the gift exchange that you really care. Whether it’s an item that nods to memories you’ve shared together or a product that’ll help them learn that new skill they can’t stop talking about, this list is filled with the best sentimental gift ideas that will make anyone in your life feel special.
Personalized Acrylic Song with Photo
Best for: The music lover
From cassette tapes to CDs, making someone a playlist has always been seen as an act of closeness. Give this classic gesture a modern twist with this personalized acrylic song display. You can customize this gift with a photo and Spotify link to a memorable song or road trip playlist.
Heart Snapshot Mix
Best for: The scrapbookers
Remember the good old days of making scrapbooks for the ones you love? This customized collage from Minted is the much more sophisticated, grown-up version. Upload 30 of their favorite photos, or your favorite photos featuring them, and Minted will organize them into a sweet, heart-shaped collage that looks great on display.
Knock Knock “What I Love About You” Book
Best for: The one who needs a boost whenever
With over 110 pages of fill-in-the-blank prompts, this book lets you get as mushy-gushy as you’d like. You can be sure they’ll have this stored somewhere special so they can reread your answers whenever they need a boost.
Memorable Family’s 20″ x 30″ Jigsaw Puzzle
Best for: The board gamer
Help them stay entertained by gifting them a customized puzzle of their favorite picture. This puzzle also comes with a customized box, making this gift even more special. Choose from any image to commemorate a special event, remember a great vacation, or show love to their favorite pet.
Minted personalized custom quotes
Best for: The utterly quotable one
Frame one of their favorite quotes, lyrics, or sayings and customize everything from font color to matting to make it theirs.
Personalized Walnut Desktop Photo Calendar
Best for: The planner
Photos of loved ones are an instant source of joy. Structuring your daily life around them with a calendar is a great way to fill each day with more gratitude and happiness. Artifact Uprising’s desktop calendar is sustainably made from reclaimed wood and fully customizable. You can also choose the calendar’s starting month, so you don’t have to wait for a new year to create one.
Pinky Promise Keychain
Best for: the long distance friend or partner
Whether you’re near or far, they’ll always remember the promises you made with this pinky promise keychain. Every time they go to unlock their car or house, they’ll be met with a daily reminder of the bond you two share.
“Where Are You?” Book
Best for: Youngsters
A search-and-find book is a challenging and fun activity for young kids learning how to read. This personalized option makes your little one the protagonist and it makes for a sweet keepsake they can have for years to come.
Quince 14k Gold Birthstone Necklace
Best for: Sentimentalists that are minimalists too
For those who like to tap into their sentimental side more subtly, this birthstone necklace is a beautiful choice. Each birthstone is set in pure 14k yellow gold, and the necklace has a dainty design that works well for everyday wear. The special meaning they assign to this piece is all their own, and that’s what makes it so special.
Personalized Gift Box
Best for: The long-distance bud
Let them know you’re thinking of them with a cute custom gift box from Greetabl. Choose a mini gift like caramels or chocolates, a gift card, and add a note and photos to be delivered to their door.
Lula’s Garden Money Tree Plant
Best for: The Green Thumb
A money tree is said to bring positivity and good fortune into any space it occupies. Who wouldn’t want that? It doesn’t hurt that these plants are also non-toxic, pet-friendly, and work to purify the air around them.
Medium Snap Journal with Pen Loop
Best for: The lifelong journaler
Leatherology’s monogrammable, full-grain leather journal is built to last and be refilled as much as needed. If you know someone who loves writing but can’t find the right journal, this will show them that you care. Whenever they write in the journal, they’ll remember who got them started.
Casetify Custom Photo Grid Phone Case
Best for: The screenager
For most of us, and for better or worse, our phones are with us 24/7. So why not make their phone case an homage to all the people, places, and things in life they love most? With CASETiFY, you can upload photos directly to the site and quickly turn them into a phone-case-ready collage.
Plantable Wish Cards
Best for: The plant lover
For the one who’s always looking to improve, give them a gift that’ll help them pursue their self-growth goals — quite literally. This set of plantable wish cards calls them to write down their goals or wishes on each card, then plant them, water them, and watch as they bloom into beautiful wildflowers.
The Birthdate Book
Best for: The astrologer
If they know their sun, moon, and rising sign, this made-to-order astrology book will make the perfect gift. Provide their birthday and time of birth, and the company will create a 70-page book with information and insights customized from their birth chart.
One Insider Reviews writer said the book felt extremely personalized, and no two books are the same.
Papier Custom Notecards
Best for: The one who loves handwritten letters
For those who err on the side of nostalgia, what better gift than that of analog communication. While we can communicate completely digitally these days, there is something so special about sharing your thoughts, and your appreciation for others, in your own handwriting. A set of customized stationary is all they need to do just that.
Personalized Leather Keychain
Best for: The traveler
No matter where they go, they’ll always keep you close with this miniature photo album keychain. Sure, they could just scroll through the photo album on their phone, but this old school iteration is so much sweeter.
Smallest Love Letter Charm
Best for: The minimalists
Is there anything more romantic than a love letter? This mini, 100% gold charm version can be engraved with up to 30 characters, which is the perfect amount for a short but sweet message. Pair it with a dainty chain and they can always keep it close to their heart.
ColWood Night Stand Book Holder
Best for: The bookworm
Your book lover can get rid of their paper bookmark and replace it with this wooden book holder. They can place their book on the stand and pick up where they left off later. You can choose from six different wood color options.
Fillmore Vegan Leather Passport Case
Best for: The avid traveler
For the giftee who loves to travel, a passport cover is a great gift. You can have their initials monogrammed onto the cover to add a thoughtful and special touch to the gift.
CaitlynMinimalist Handwriting Bracelet
Best for: The romantic
A custom piece of jewelry is already a thoughtful gift but this handwritten bracelet from Etsy goes the extra mile. Surprise your gift recipient with a gold, sterling silver, or rose gold bracelet with words on it written in your or a loved one’s handwriting.
My Family Cookbook
Best for: The family who takes tradition seriously
The My Family Cookbook is a sweet gift that will keep on giving. After having various family members add recipes, the book can become an heirloom gift that gets passed down to generations.
Music Memories Canvas
Music makes for such powerful memories. Is there a song that’s the soundtrack to your friendship? Are there lyrics that you and your partner live by? If so, consider this custom canvas print from Lime & Lou. Add the song title of your choice, give the memory a name, time, and place, choose the frame and colorways and you have a personalized gift that’s sure to tug on their heartstrings.
Loved Ones Handwriting Coffee Mug
Best for: The caffeine lover
A mug with a meaningful message is a tender gift for people who may have lost a loved one or who live far away. You can customize this mug with any words you want, printed in your handwriting or someone else’s.
Scallop Spine Notebook
Best for: The writer
Whether they love making lists or jotting down new ideas, every writer needs a durable, trusted notebook to store their notes and stories. These unique notebooks can be customized with a monogram and lined, dotted, or plain pages. The notebooks come in solid colors and several fun designs, including Constellation and Colourblock styles.
The Send Bouquet
Best for: The fan of getting flowers all the time
Instead of gifting flowers solely during holidays and special occasions, send them beautiful arrangements on a more consistent basis with a subscription from Fresh Sends. Choose from three delivery frequencies and two size options for a unique bouquet every time.
Table Topics Cards
Best for: The sharer
Never experience another boring dinner again with these cards from Table Topics. Each cube comes with 135 thought-provoking topic cards to help keep your meals and relationships interesting. With six themed options ranging from card sets for families, couples, and friends, you’ll give them the chance to get to know everyone in their life a little better.
Mixbook Custom Photo Book
Best for: The parent with the falling-apart photo album
Convert their pile of photos and favorite mementos into one glossy book they can showcase around the home for a cohesive, beautiful keepsake. You can browse our favorite photo book services here.
CanvasPop Custom pet portrait
Best for: The person who loves their dog more than anything
If they love their pet more than pretty much anything in the world, a Pet Portrait immortalizing them is a uniquely thoughtful gesture — and decor they’re unlikely to have already. You can also get them a custom painting (from $250) if that’s more their style or a framed print (from $120) of them with their pet.
Uncommon Goods Personalized family mugs
Best for: The hobbyist
Turn your family or friends or a newly engaged couple into characters that actually look like them. One side features the artists’ depiction of them (personalized through your choices of skin tone, hair, and clothing color) and the mug owner’s first name, while the other displays your family name and year “established” (for friends, this could be the year you met).
RindleWaves Soundwave Art Print
Best for: The musician
Send in a song and artist or email an audio file of you or a loved one speaking, and this Etsy shop will turn it into personalized sound-wave art. This gift is particularly thoughtful for long-distance relationships or for commemorating a loved one.
Set of two Filimin Long-Distance Touch Lamps
Best for: The far-away friend or family member
Everyone is busy these days, and it’s not as easy to keep up with loved ones as we all wish. A set of paired lamps, one of which lights up when the other is touched, lets them know you’re still thinking of them even when you don’t have time to talk. One Insider Reviews editor uses them to keep in touch with her parents.
Hand Embroidered State Pillows
Best for: The person beaming with state pride
Bring their favorite state to them with detailed and brightly embroidered pillows that pay homage to each state’s cities and cultural touchpoints.
Intersection of Love Print
Best for: The newlyweds
Commemorate the moment their paths first crossed in a sophisticated, unique design.
Ski Resort Blueprints
Best for: The ski bunny
Whether they grew up on the slopes or drag friends and family along as adults, skiers can take their favorite slopes home with them with this blueprint-inspired art. Featuring iconic ski resorts such as Park City, Vail, and Breckenridge, each officially licensed print is created with a vintage, distressed finish and contains detailed historical and statistical facts about the area.
Polaroid Hi-Print Printer
Best for: The frequent photographer
Polaroid’s Wireless Mini Printer prints mini photos from your phone or tablet using a WiFi connection. It’s small enough to stow in a purse for travel, and there are customizable features like stickers, filters, and borders to edit photos within the Polaroid app.
Create Your Own Reel Viewer
Best for: The child at heart
As a kid, flipping through a reel viewer was one of life’s greatest joys. Just because they’re all grown up doesn’t mean they won’t like playing with the gadget. Fill the reel with snapshots of their most cherished memories (use the redemption code included with your viewer) for a gift that’ll flood them with all sorts of nostalgia.
JustArtinAround Custom Watercolor Wedding Venue Illustration
Best for: The anniversary toasters
For a deeply thoughtful gift for newlyweds, commission a custom watercolor of their wedding venue or location. All you’ll have to do is send the artist a photo of the location, the couple’s first and last names, and the wedding date.
Best for: The homesick friend
If they’re far from home, this affordable candle is a small but meaningful gesture that can bring them just a little closer. Uniquely specific scents are made to capture the ethos of states and cities or memories like road trips, backyard BBQs, and cooking in Grandma’s kitchen.
Family Recipe Cutting Board
Best for: The chef
There’s something about family recipes that make them taste even better. This cutting board offers a unique way to preserve those special favorites. Ingredients and directions are engraved on solid cherry wood and can even be etched in the recipe writer’s handwriting.