21 Unique Sentimental Gift Ideas for a Loved One


Cake values integrity and transparency. We follow a strict editorial process to provide you with the best content possible. We also may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more in our affiliate disclosure.

Are you faced with the task of buying a gift for a loved one, and you can’t think of anything unique? Here are some present ideas for close friends, your spouse, your parents, siblings, and other family members.

Overview: Our Top Picks

Sentimental Gifts for Close Friends

Sentimental Gifts for Your Partner or Spouse

Sentimental Gifts for Other Family Members

Jump ahead to these sections:

Giving a sentimental gift may take more time than purchasing a traditional gift. If you know that your parent’s 50th wedding anniversary is next year, you may want to start thinking about your gift now. If your best friend is moving to Omaha, you should begin as soon as possible to create the perfect going away gift. And if your spouse is turning 50 within the next few months, you have five decades of photos to look through to create something unique. 

Here are some sentimental and unique gift ideas for the special people in your life.

Sentimental Gifts for Close Friends

If you have a few close friends who you can turn to in your hour of need, consider yourself lucky. In fact, treat those people like royalty, especially if they patiently listen as you brag about your kids and complain about your in-laws. 

Here are some ideas of gifts to give to close friends.

1. Personalized wine or martini glass

If you periodically meet your friends for a drink or two while you rehash what’s happening in the world, consider hiring a local or online artist to decorate and personalize a wine or martini glass.

The gift would be relatively inexpensive, and your friend will think of you every time she takes the glass out of her cabinet.

2. Your favorite things basket

Think of your favorite luxury items. Perhaps you have a favorite hand lotion or lip gloss. Maybe you swear by a particular cleaning product or water bottle. What’s your favorite candy? Or book? Fill a basket or tote bag with your favorite things. What items would you give your best friend?

3. Personalized T-shirts

Check your favorite crafting site to look for ideas on personalized T-shirts for you and your friend. Think about what you have in common as you consider the designs you see online.

Would your best friend mind wearing a shirt that’s a little crude? Perhaps you could simply have your nicknames for each other printed on a matching shirt. Let your creativity flow as you design this gift for your friend.

4. Playlist

If you have known your friend for decades, you probably know your friend’s taste in music. You may have attended concerts together and know which songs your friend loves and which ones she hates. 

Create a playlist of your favorite tunes. Include nostalgic songs as well as some about friendship.

Sentimental Gifts for Your Partner or Spouse

Are you looking for a gift that tells your husband or wife that you love and cherish them? Here are some romantic gifts for them.

5. Return to your honeymoon destination

Try to recreate the magic of your honeymoon by returning to the same destination. You may even want to stay in the same hotel and wear the same type of clothes for nostalgia’s sake.

Pose for photos in the same location as the ones you took on your honeymoon.

6. Cook a romantic dinner

Send the kids to your inlaws and light some candles. Pour some wine and wear something special. Who says you have to go out for a romantic dinner? Cook your husband’s or wife’s favorite meal at home. 

7. Photo presentation

Gather up all the photos of you and your spouse. Create a photo presentation complete with music that was important to you. What songs mean a lot to you and your love?

8. Jewelry

Buy a unique piece of jewelry for your husband or wife. Jewelry is often the go-to gift for sentimental occasions. The piece may even be passed down to your kids and become a family heirloom

» MORE: Save thousands on funeral costs by knowing your options – schedule a free consultation today.

Sentimental Gifts for Your Parents

Think about all that your parents sacrificed in an attempt to make your life better. If you have settled into your own life, it is time to say thank you to your parents.

9. A trip

Has your mom always wanted to go to Hawaii? Perhaps your dad has always wanted to travel back to the German village where his grandfather was born.

If you have the means, consider funding a special trip for your parents. 

10. Memoirs

A wealth of knowledge is lost every time a generation dies. While you can find factual information through genealogical research, you can’t discover your ancestor’s personalities, temperaments, and interests through online research. 

Interview your parents about their lives, their parent’s lives, and their grandparent’s lives. Take notes or record the interviews. Write the stories and share them with your siblings. Your parents will love being able to reminisce and have a captive audience. You will appreciate having a written record of your parent’s history after they are gone.

You can read our guides on questions to ask older adults and how to collect family stories for more tips.

11. A family photo

The next time your entire family is in town, hire a professional photographer to take your family’s picture. Your parents will love being able to share the images with all their friends.

Maybe if you get a decent photo, your parents will take down your high school graduation photo that has been hanging up in the living room for decades.

12. A flower garden

Do your parents have a difficult time working outside nowadays? Create a low-maintenance flower garden for them.

Plant bulbs in the fall or perennials in the spring, so they never have to worry about replanting. Install a fountain that needs little maintenance. Make sure to include plenty of bird feeders throughout their property as well.

Sentimental Gifts for Siblings 

Our siblings are our first friends. They know you better than almost anyone. Here are some gift ideas to give your brothers and sisters. 

13. Framed photos of your grandparents

One thing that you and your siblings share is love for your grandparents. The love may feel bittersweet if not all of your grandparents are living anymore.

Consider framing a photo of your two sets of grandparents. You may consider using pictures of your grandparents taken when you and your siblings were children.

14. A family calendar

Help your siblings keep track of birthdays and anniversaries by creating a family calendar. It’s easy to do when using a photo gift website. Scour your sibling’s social media accounts to find current photos.

They may also enjoy seeing pictures from the past on the calendar.

15. Games or toys from your youth

Was there a particular game that you and your siblings loved playing as kids? Look on eBay or other auction sites for the game or toy that you used to enjoy. 

» MORE: Need help paying for a funeral? Let Cake help with a free consultation.

16. A drawing of your old home

Does another family inhabit your family home now? Your siblings may love to receive a sketch of your childhood home. Hire an artist online to create the drawing.

You may consider placing the sketch in the frame accompanied by a photograph of you and your siblings standing in front of the house as kids. 

Sentimental Gifts for Other Family Members

Are you at a loss on what to get your Grandma for Christmas? Maybe you don’t know what to buy for your nieces or nephews either. Here are some sentimental gift ideas for your extended family. 

17. Convert old home movies

It seems as if every generation works hard to convert old home movies into the newest format. If the last time you completed this task was when VHS was the rage, it might be time to update the film.

Convert the old movies into a digital format and share them with the members of your extended family.

18. Quilt

If you have the skills and the know-how, a quilt is one of the sweetest gifts you can make for someone. They can be especially sentimental if you use fabric that would be easily recognized by the members of your family.

Instead of donating your grandma’s favorite dress or your grandfather’s work shirts after they pass, use them in the quilt. 

19. Photobook

You may have thousands of family photos. How do you organize and share the images with the members of your family? Perhaps you could create themed photobooks.

For example, one year, you could create a photobook using only graduation photos. The next year, you could create one using wedding pictures. It would be interesting to see how the styles change and how the graduation photo of your nephew Mike looks exactly like that of your great-grandpa Stewart.

20. Genealogy site subscription

Have you always meant to get your family tree organized? If so, having to complete the project to give as a gift may inspire you to get it done.

Use one of the genealogy sites online to help you fill in the gaps in your research. This will also make sure that your work will be archived and accessible by others in your extended family.

21. Repurposed family heirlooms

What do you do with the afghans that your grandma made in the 1970s? What about the needlepoint that your family members painstakingly produced over time?

Look on Pinterest to see if there is a way that these pieces can be utilized in some other manner.

What is the Most Sentimental Gift You Have Ever Received?

What gift have you received that immediately made you cry? Perhaps it was the birthday keepsake that your parents gave you on your golden birthday.

Maybe it was an item from your grandpa’s youth that he gave to you for your graduation. Whether the gift was valuable or just a token, you’ve probably treasured that item through the years.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.