Think Outside The (Gift) Box – Christmas Gift Guide

Stuck for gift ideas? Well here is our Christmas gift guide with a focus on giving practical items, gifting experiences and adding more 'green' to your Christmas stockings (and less landfill). Plus we highlight some great local businesses that you can support at the same time.


Buying the biggest gift you could find used to be the done thing for Christmas. These days we often live in smaller houses or apartments and we prefer to receive a well thought through present. And by making smart choices, we are being kinder to the environment.

If you are stuck this holiday season for gift ideas, why not try to buy with this rhyme in mind.

Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear and
Something to read

1Something They Want

Presents don’t necessarily need to be objects. Some of the best gifts I have received are ‘an experience’.

  • Would they want tickets to the Australian Reptile Park, Taronga Zoo or Calmsley Hill Farm? Or the NEW Sydney Zoo at Bungarribee Park when it opens later this year?
  • Maybe tickets to a show at Riverside Theatres, movie tickets or a massage voucher?
  • What about a family pass to a museum, like the Powerhouse Museum. Or a pass to an activity they really like, such as visiting Lollipops Playland and Ultimate Family Fun Centre, dance classes at The Performance Studio in Northmead or Gymnastics classes at YMCA Epping?
  • Most people cherish a memento that captures a special moment in time. Did you know you can buy a photo of the sunrise from a day that has special meaning to you? It might be the day you met your partner, your wedding day or the birth of a child. Another company called The Night Sky produces gorgeous prints of how the stars looked from a particular city on a certain date.

    The Night Sky
  • Big W, Kmart, Photo Stores and Officeworks have heaps of options to turn your photos into a gift as well. I’ve recently discovered an app called Picture Postie where you can select photos to be printed (straight from your phone) and they get delivered to your house. Winning!
  • Maybe the recipient has a green thumb? Would they like a plant, a worm farm, some seedlings or gardening gloves? With the added bonus that if you shop at Bunnings the kids can enjoy a play in the play area, help shop with the little trolleys and grab a stamp on the way out. Plus on weekends there is usually a kids craft activity.

2Something They Need

Nectarines ready to pick at Canoelands ORchard

Think about who you are buying for and what their plans are for the summer.

  • Are they having lots visitors pop by? It’s nice to have a few treats in the house for these occasions. COCO88 Chocolate Patisserie in Pemulwuy sell some lovely chocolate gift boxes.
  • You could also put together a fruit basket with lots of lovely seasonal fruit. Why not go fruit picking with the kids to grab some nectarines and plums at Canoelands Orchard near Wisemans Ferry.

    Joking Hazard Game
  • Maybe they are having a quiet one and spending lots of time at home over the holidays. How about some Games, puzzles, DVDs, Craft items or outdoor activities.The gift to buy this year is called What do you Meme? It’s an adult game that is sure to bring lots of laughter to your meme-loving friends. Also worth checking out a similar game called Joking Hazard. Both available at Good Games, Level 3, Top Ryde City Shopping Centre.
  • Perhaps there is an everyday item that they need for the new year, like a new school bag. Make it more fun buy getting a personalised one! Identity direct, Tiny Me and Hippo Blue all sell personalised items, stationary and puzzles.

3Something To Wear

‘Ugly’ Rashie
  • If they are heading to the beach why not check out the range of beach bags at Bed, Bath and Table, the unique style of towels at Thirsty Co., or Cancer Council for an ‘ugly rashie’, a hat or sunglasses.
  • So many parents I know have accumulated lots of plastic toys but can never find a pair of socks when trying to dress the kids! My favourite present to give a child (and have my child receive) would have to be the clothing/book/small toy combo. Because let’s face it, even if the parents think the kids already have far too many toys, the kids don’t! Great small toys are a Hot Wheels car, mini play-doh tub, a My little pony, a puzzle or some stickers.
  • What about simple style dress ups? Think masks, crowns, capes and wands.
    They are great for imaginative play and are a big hit with kids and their parents.
  • Clothes are good gifts for adults too. If you are unsure of what size to buy, always buy medium. Make sure you keep the receipt in case they would like to exchange and make it clear that you are more than happy for them to swap it if it doesn’t feel right for any reason.

4Something to Read

Aussie authors are sometimes forgotten

There is something magical about receiving a book that has been chosen just for you, especially if it’s an author you haven’t heard of before. Reading also comes in so many forms these days so why not purchase a kindle, a half year/full year magazine subscription or an iTunes gift voucher.

  • The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost Their Name is a personal favourite of mine. It’s a totally unique gift based on the letters of the child’s name. It makes a great bedtime story and also has the added bonus of helping with name recognition. You can purchase the book and other personalised stories from Wonderbly.
  • If you are buying for children under 5, here is a great list of wonderful books you can get.

5Other Gift Ideas

The Bells Road Social Cafe Oatlands

What do you buy the person who has everything? Simple, you don’t buy them anything!

  • Make a cash donation in their name to Ronald McDonald house, Share the Dignity, RSPCA, Mummies Paying It Forward or another charity you know that they like.
  • You could gift them a meal and outing together. What about shouting them lunch at Bells Road Social, dessert at Bay Vista Parramatta or breakfast at Courtyard Dining and Espresso.
  • Why not do a Secret Santa/ Kris Kringle which limits the number of gifts and of course reduces landfill. There are now apps available to help too such as Secret Santa Organiser.
  • Organising a gift for a new baby can be tricky. Asking the parents is a good place to start. Have some ideas ready and see which ones they like – wraps, a book, open a bank account for the baby or add some money to one they have, a personalised Christmas bauble, clothes or clothes a size up.
  • Make gifting fun by making your own wrapping paper, cards or the actual gift itself.
  • While you are in the mood for giving gifts here’s a list of some charities in the area where you can help make a difference by donating. There’s the Kmart Wishing Tree, Target Gift Appeal, Salvation Army and a gift tree at Northmead Bowling Club.