Here’s a Thought: Try Giving The Same Gift (But Different) Every Year

I love repetition. I like to eat the same meals. I like to read the same books. I like to re-watch the same holiday movies.

Not surprisingly this tendency has influenced my gift-giving habits over the years.


Yesterday I mentioned how our family opens a new ornament each Christmas Eve. The excitement is always palpable as we’re all eager to see what ornament we’ll get this time around.

In a similar vein, every year (for her birthday in October) I gift a particular friend a new Christmas ornament. Her birthday is close enough to Christmas she only has to store it away for a month and every year she knows what to expect. Somehow, to me, that makes the experience all the more exciting.

Every Christmas my husband buys me a new set of earrings – almost always studs, which is what I wear 95% of the time. Last week I was in a store lineup when the lady waiting behind me commented how much she admired my earrings. I was surprised to receive the compliment (we’re all so hidden behind masks these days) – it brightened my day and it made me so happy I had taken the time to put on those particular earrings that morning.

I buy my husband socks every Christmas, including at least one fun/funky pair. I buy him a new graphic T-shirt. He gets a Star Wars LEGO set. He knows he’s going to receive these gifts, but he doesn’t know the specifics which helps to elevate the experience. Every year I unwrap Twizzlers and Brooksides and new earrings.


Years ago I started making annual photo calendars for the grandparents. It’s a labour of love as I comb through 1000s of images from the year to find the best ones to summarize noteworthy/photogenic events. Last year I debated whether I would keep this tradition going; somehow, this filtered back to my parents who actually contacted me about their concern over this decision. Apparently, it’s one of their favourite gifts. They don’t primarily use it for the calendar function (though I do, very sweetly, take the time to add in all the relevant family birthdays/anniversaries for them) – they just like having ready access to curated photos and often refer to the calendar to show friends updated pictures of all the family (I organize all the pictures from my siblings as well). This year, as in years prior, they will be receiving a photo calendar. And, chances are, it will be their favourite gift under the tree.


It could be a new candle, bath towel, book, vinyl record, mug, or Christmas ornament, but consider the gift of repetition. It can make buying gifts – and receiving them – all the more special.

What about you? Any annual gifts you like to give and/or receive?

11 thoughts on “Here’s a Thought: Try Giving The Same Gift (But Different) Every Year”

    1. My grandmothers (father’s side) always gave me books at Christmas; all the Nancy Drews on my daughter’s bookshelf stem from that period in my life. She had such a knack for finding great books that piqued the interest of all her different grandchildren.

  1. Pre-pandemic, we always get my parents a gift certificate to a B&B or hotel, which was a tradition started by my aunt for her in-laws many years ago. My parents are old enough with enough income that they don’t NEED anything and they don’t WANT more stuff. A gift certificate (usually somewhere in the $150-300 range) will get them 1-2 nights at a place of my choosing. I always make sure its within a 2-3 hour drive and somewhere they’ve never been. We’ve done city center locations, beach locations (we live in a coastal state), small town locations, etc. They LOVE it and it’s fun for me to figure out where to send them each year! We are currently on hiatus due to the pandemic and them not traveling for the past two years, but I hope to resume for next Christmas.

    For me, my mom always gives me a tin of her homemade chex mix (which I could most definitely make myself but it tastes better coming from Mom!) =)

    1. I think the hotel/getaway is a great idea!! And honestly not one I had thought of. We did do a hotel getaway for the kids one year as their main present, but haven’t gotten into a routine of doing it every year.

      My Mom makes HUGE batches of her Chex Mix (we call it nuts-and-bolts). She just wrote today to tell me she has a big batch all prepared and ready to bring over at Christmas. I haven’t made my own in years…

  2. I make a calendar for my MIL and order one for our family as well. it’s a much-loved gift by my MIL! And now this year I am taking over making the calendar for my side of the family. A SIL used to do it, but it didn’t get done last year and now they are getting divorced (sadly) so it’s something someone needed to take on. I was hoping to get my mom trained over Thanksgiving but realized it is too hard to teach her how to do it, so I will be doing it, which is a total pain because I have to gather photos from my 4 siblings. I always sent about 1-2/month. Some of them send like 50+ so I have to cull through all of them… It’s truly a labor of love and I won’t even order one since I order the one I make w/ photos of our boys. Le sigh.

    My parents give us smartwool socks (my fave brand of wool socks) and $100 every Christmas. We told them they could stop buying us presents several years ago and they gladly did. They have 10 grandkids to shop for so that is plenty of shopping! But I look forward to a new pair of socks every year!

    1. I actually stopped doing family photos for both sides of the family and now only do it for my siblings/parents (and make a more generic one for my parents-in-law).

      It is definitely a labour of love! I just received the one I make for Abby in the mail today which in some ways I think is even harder because I try to tailor it to her favourite memories and match things up to the appropriate months (e.g. birthday pictures in March because that’s her birthday month).

      I’ve written multiple times about my love of giving and receiving socks at Christmas. Classic. As is cash!

  3. that would make gift buying so much easier. brilliant idea! I’ll have to think about it for my family. I kind of know that husband is buying me another piece of jewelry this year (last year was necklace and this year bracelet). I like it and they never get boring. But to husband, its harder to think one theme.

  4. Well, Christmas is all about tradition, and getting the same (but different) gift every year is a tradition, which makes it special. I love this idea.

  5. I love Christmas traditions like this… and I’ve been doing a little bit of this myself. For my in-laws, I pack a little package of goodies, gift cards, and small gifts (like candles, shawls, a puzzle) every year.

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