Gifts for City Dwellers and Other Small-Space Folks

Over the years, our friends and family have had to get used to our unique needs around gifts. We love generosity and connecting with loved ones, but with four of us sharing 660 square feet, we don’t have a lot of room to spare. Now that we’re on the other side of Hanukkah, I’ve been thinking about what nice gifts we’ve gotten this year and what kinds of gifts work well for people in small spaces. So what do you get the family who can’t really fit your gift into their home?

  • Consumables. Some of our favorite gifts are things that get used up. Nice coffees and teas, gourmet food, wine, toilet paper. Kidding about that last one. Lots of items other than food will still get used up — crafting supplies, Hanukkah candles, art supplies for kids, fancy paper for letter-writing.
  • Memberships and Activities. Museum memberships are great because they are wallet-sized, can be used any time, and work for the whole family. Movie tickets or restaurant gift certificates can also be good. Doing something together with a gift-giver is wonderful.
  • Services. Massage, spa treatments, and manicures can all be good choices for the right person.
  • Magazines. We love to read, but don’t have room for many books. Magazine subscriptions give us something to read and they can be used afterward for art projects by kids.
  • Music tends to be very compact and it’s a wonderful thing to share with others. I love getting mixed CDs.
  • Something really needed. If you want to get something more substantial for someone on your list, you can always find out if there is some larger item they really need. That way you won’t be giving them something extra they will have to find space for. These kind of gifts are often best when the recipeint really can be specific about exactly what they want so that you don’t end up getting them something that doesn’t quite work.
  • Small toys for kids. For kids, stick with small toys that have lots of potential in imaginative play. Small building toys, puppets, playsets with animals and people.
  • Small useful items. Everyone needs socks. Kids always need clothes. Cloth napkins and dishtowels are useful for most everyone. Hats, gloves, and scarves are generally welcomed by those of us in cold climates.

Need still more ideas? Check out Bus Chick’s list and some links for having a simple holiday at Rowdy Kittens.

About Angela

Angela is an associate professor of mathematics and enjoys writing, reading, and talking to people about her bike. She's the proud mother of two cute kids, H and R.
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