Sentimental, Personalized Christmas Gift Ideas to Celebrate Family and Make You Cry

by | Dec 2, 2019 | Sheila Snippets | 6 comments

5 Sentimental Gifts for Family at Christmas

Are you at a loss trying to find Christmas presents for someone who has everything?

I try to be quite deliberate with gifts, getting things that people truly need and that won’t just take up space in closets or drawers or on counters. And I try to get things that celebrate who someone is to me.

This month I’ll be sharing some fun gifts, like boxer shorts for your husband, and I’ve got past gift round-ups for stocking stuffers for your husband (and sexy stocking stuffers for your husband!). But I’d like to talk about sentimental gifts right now–gifts that would work for engaged or married adult children, for grandparents, for parents, for siblings–even for your spouse.

I do rely on the income from my blog to pay my staff and to keep this blog up. So I’ve looked for some affiliate products to recommend in December as you all are thinking about Christmas. But here’s the deal: I’m only going to share stuff that I actually personally like. And I’m going to have much more than just gift guides coming in December! (this one’s here because a number of these awesome gifts have today as a deadline if you want it for Christmas, but I’ve got other posts planned, too).

So here goes!


Turn a Photo into One-of-a-Kind Artwork

I love this idea! Take a photo that means something to you–a family photo, a photo with babies, even a photo of a pet that has passed away–and you can have it turned into a one-of-a-kind pencil drawing, ink rendering, or even watercolor painting or oil painting!

Create a romantic picture for your wall–or gift it to an engaged couple!

Or have an old vintage photo turned into a sketch for to celebrate the long marriage of a couple you love (that’s a great gift for grandparents!).

And I think this is wonderful for pets, too! My sister-in-law bought my OTHER sister-in-law something similar last year after their beloved dog passed away. It was really sweet when we were all sitting down and opening the presents.

It’s just a unique way of celebrating your family and the people who are important to you, and I know as a mom I would appreciate something like this so much more than pretty much anything else the kids would get me. also does caricatures, modern art from photos, and so much more. And, yes, they even do this really corny Adam and Eve picture where they’ll superimpose your faces. Some couples would probably find it quite hilarious!

And the reason I’m running this particular post so early in the Christmas season is because today is the last day to order a pencil drawing and get it in time for Christmas (with regular shipping in the United States). 

Some other artwork you can still get if you wait a bit, but if you want a pencil or ink rendering, today’s the day! And I think this is a lovely idea. 

Create Photo Books to Celebrate a Year in Your Life, an Event, or a Relationship

Blurb produces high quality books that you can give to celebrate important milestones in your life–or your family.

Joanna has ordered just a ton of these photo books, and her toddler Mari spends hours looking through them, learning the names of all the relatives you don’t see very often.

It’s pretty easy–you choose the size of book you want, and the type of paper and cover. And then you can do a combination of photos, or add text as well.

They can pull pictures automatically from your Instagram account, or you can upload photos.

And the possibilities are endless. Have you gone through a tough year? You can create a memoir book with some of your thoughts, prayers, favourite Bible verses, and what you learned, and give it to your loved ones to encourage them or as a keepsake. Do you have a whole pile of family recipes that you want to make sure don’t get lost? Create a cookbook with a picture of your grandma or your Aunt Mary or whomever, and then add some more photos of the food. Or what if you’ve written a children’s book and illustrated it? Here’s an easy way to get some printed!

Print out a year in your child’s life for all the grandparents!

Or share your family’s favourite recipes.

Here’s another awesome idea: Do you have a creative child who writes stories and illustrates them? Take a story and turn it into a book for them! Reward their creativity, and encourage it to continue. 

Again, today’s a great day to order from Blurb! They’ve got a 50% off sale with the coupon BIGFIFTY, but it ends tonight!


Turn Your Photos into Inexpensive Canvases

I love the idea of adding texture to my walls–not just photos, but canvas.

This year, now that we have a baby in the family, we’re going to turn my upstairs hallway into a photo wall. I decided to start with a large 16×20 canvas picture of my two girls, taken at Katie and David’s wedding. Then on Rebecca’s side of the photo I’ll feature pictures from her wedding and from her family (including my new grandson!), and for Katie’s side I’ll feature photos from her wedding and her life. And it will all grow from there!

But I like the idea of a canvas print anchoring it all. And Easy Canvas Prints can do that for you, too. You just upload your photo, choose your size, and you’re ready to go!

Canvas prints are super-inexpensive ways to create a large piece of art to hang in the middle of the wall over a bed, over a fireplace, or centered in the living room wall. 


A variety of sizes are available, from 8×8 up to 40×60–and they even do rectangular ones like the one above–16×48.

You choose the border style, and then it comes ready to hang. And for all my Canadian readers–yes, they ship in Canada, too!


Keep Someone You Love–or Someone You’ve Lost–Close to Your Heart

Christmas can be a tough time for many people, because as you’re sitting around the Christmas table you notice all those who aren’t there anymore.

If you’ve lost someone close to you, or if someone you love has recently gone through a loss, a memorial necklace or locket can be a lovely gift. But lockets are also lovely ways to celebrate the relationships that mean the most to you, too.

Heartsmith sells unique and unusual lockets and jewelry, at an affordable price. Choose sterling silver, or opt for 14 kt gold. And they have lots of Christian symbols and verses on lockets, too.

Chart Your Travels, Your Dreams, or Your Family

Keith and I are big into tracing our family history, and world maps like these are great to see where all the different branches came from.

Or you can stick a pin in every place you’ve been together–or every place you’d like to go together!

It’s available in a variety of sizes, and comes ready to hang, along with 100 push pins of various colours.

Use different colours for different years (or decades) of your marriage! Or for different branches of your family tree. Or for dreams of where you’d like to go when.

And if the world map isn’t your thing, you can get more specific push pin maps, as well, like only the United States, only North America, or only Europe.

Knit or Crochet to Commemorate a Year!

Want something more DIY?

Maybe your parents are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, so you can knit or crochet them an afghan to celebrate with them! Or you could do one for your own anniversary.

Here’s a great idea: It’s called a temperature afghan or blanket. You can either do single crochet or do garter stitch in knitting. Each row (or each ridge, if knitting) represents the temperature of that day of the year. So you look up the temperature where they lived for the year that you’re commemorating, and then you use the chart to decide the color for each row.

All the instructions are here, but I love this idea!

Think Outside the Gift Box

You’ll probably see that the theme of everything I’ve got here is to think outside the box, and come up with ideas that are sentimental and personal.

It reminds me of a book I read a few years ago that was part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle–Thinking Outside the Gift Box. I actually ended up using some of their ideas (the map one, above, was from them!), and I wrote a big post on it: 10 DIY Gifts for Your Family that Will Make You Bawl. We’ve still got over three weeks before Christmas is here, and if you’re a DIY person, take a look at this book for some more creative ideas!

So there’s my list of sentimental gifts to buy this Christmas!

I think of it this way: Christmas is when Jesus left perfection to come and live with us and share with us. He loved us, and wanted to know us. Indeed, another name for Christ is “God with us.”

Christmas is ultimately about relationship–restoring relationship with God but also with each other.

So this year, as you’re thinking about what to get people, think as well about gifts that can speak to your relationship, and to how much the people around you mean to you.

And don’t forget that many of these deals are gone today! So check it them out!

5 Sentimental Gifts for Christmas

What’s your favourite sentimental gift you’ve ever received? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Chris

    So, unrelated to this post but did Rebeccas pupps thing ever clear up?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It’s almost gone, but still there. She still has really itchy patches! Thanks for asking. 🙂

  2. Kya

    Photo books are such a great idea. My mom is IMPOSSIBLE to shop for, but she doesn’t have a smart phone, so she is always printing off pictures of family vacations and such show her coworkers, friends, and extended family. We took a family vacation this year, and for her birthday a month later I made her a photo book of our adventures. She loves it so much she won’t let my dad borrow it to show HIS coworkers!

    Also a variation on the map idea: you can buy scratch-off maps! My husband and I have one on our wall and it is so fun to get back from a trip and scratch off a new state or country.

  3. Anon

    I love photo gifts. I’m doing a hand-made photo book for my fiance. Our local shop does mini albums that have clear pockets in them, including the front and back covers, so you can personalise the covers. I’m printing out a big 2019 in block numbers for the front and filling in the inside of the numbers with handwriting in different colours, choosing words and phrases that remind him of our year together (e.g. place names we’ve visited on dates, things we love to eat, significant events in our lives) And then inside are a collection of photos of us from throughout the year.

    A shop near me also has snowglobes that you can put a photo in. And photo baubles for the tree!

  4. Ashley

    I love the map idea! Also, my sis-in-law is an excellent amateur nature photographer. She has done several calendars with her photography for me, and I have loved them!

  5. Eps

    Photo calendars – not just books! Practical and sentimental – and you have a gift idea that needs replacing every year. We did this for the grandparents for many years, and when we didn’t get time one year you could tell they were so disappointed! And then they kept them and looked through them to see how everyone changed over the years.

    Love the map idea though!


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