Cross Country Checkup

These unique holiday gift ideas will spare you a trip to the shopping mall

From the gift of time to proof of Santa Claus, callers shared unique presents for the holidays Sunday on Cross Country Checkup.

From the gift of time to proof of Santa Claus, Checkup callers shared unique presents for the holidays

Looking for gift ideas that are a little more personal? Checkup callers offered ideas for gifts that don't necessarily sit beneath the tree. (Shutterstock)

As the holiday season ramps up, Canadians across the country will be making their lists, and checking them twice, trying to find the right presents for friends and family.

But with many concerned about buying unnecessary — or worse, unwanted — presents that could be hard on the planet, some are turning to unique gifts that say "I love you" without the waste.

These Cross Country Checkup callers shared their ideas for gifts that don't necessarily require standing in line at the shopping mall.

The gift of time

Calling from Head of St. Margaret's Bay, N.S., David Wimberly suggests an oft-promised, but sometimes forgotten, gift with a twist.

Wimberly created a freely-available greeting card template that gives people the option to gift their loved ones a tangible promise of their time. 

"What people really want from us is our time and our love, and traditional societies, generally, used to be bound together by ... caring for each other," Wimberley told Checkup host Duncan McCue.

David Wimberly says that his downloadable 'time gifting' card makes the promise of one-on-one time more tangible. (Submitted by David Wimberly)

"A lot of people say, 'Oh, I'll just babysit for you,' but if you put it on this card, then it makes it something a little more formal and it makes it a bit more special."

Wimberly says that the response to the gift has been quite positive. 

"They just think it's just exquisite, and it's so sweet to be able to have a way of giving someone time which binds each other," he said.

Giving experiences

After her mother's death, Annika Reid in Toronto decided it was time to rethink what was important to her — and it wasn't material things.

"I think experience and connection ... or using what I have to give [to] somebody who doesn't have, is much more of a tangible experience than just attaining a bunch of things," said Reid, who owns The Style Space Collective, a Toronto business selling locally-made goods by women entrepreneurs.

In her effort to let go of material goods, Annika Reid, right, says she plans to gift her daughter 'experiences.' (Submitted by Annika Reid)

Rather than gifting toys or other items, Reid says this year she's focusing on spending time with her daughter and offering "experiences."

"This might sound super cliche, but we actually will be doing a soup kitchen with our family," she said, adding, "We're going to do a lot of baking, which is what my mom used to do."

"[My daughter] doesn't need anything; she has everything ... I'm an entrepreneur, so quality time together is what we're going to exchange."

Proof of jolly St. Nick

More than 20 years ago, Heather Lane received an unexpected wish list from her then six-year-old son.

"We as parents, I think, sometimes project what we believe our children's expectations are," she told McCue from Cape Breton Island, N.S.

Back in 1998, it wasn't toys or electronics her son wanted.

"Nicholas said that that particular year he didn't want any presents; that he wanted a picture of the real Santa," she explained, adding that he wanted nothing more than the photograph.

Six-year-old Nicholas didn't want any gifts under the tree — just a photo of Santa Claus. Heather Lane, calling from Cape Breton Island, N.S., told Checkup how she got it. 4:40

So she wrote about the surprising Christmas wish and had it published in the local newspaper. Not long after, a local St. Nick came through.

"He was, in fact, the real Santa in the Santa Claus parade when I was a child every year," she recalled. "He signed a picture for Nicholas, he made a tape, especially for Nicholas — a vocal tape like, 'Ho, ho, ho!'"

Since then, Lane adds, Christmases in her family have been different.

"We try and have fun with it. You know, there is no pressure."

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