25 Things to Send in the Mail That Aren't Flowers


Flowers are colorful, inspiring, and they smell amazing, but not everyone loves them. Some have allergies, while others have pets who determine whether flowers are a good accent in the home or not. So, what do you send in the mail when you can’t send flowers?

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You’ve got more options than you think! From gifting live indoor or outdoor plants to the gift of adventure or even (future) treasured memories—your possibilities are endless.

Alternatives to Flowers for a Birthday or Celebration

Think outside the vase! Your friend or family member is so much more interesting than a bouquet. Gift them something that will last either through a visual or a recollection of time spent having adventures.

» MORE: Memorial day is a time to honor and plan ahead. Reflect on a veteran in your life.

1. Japanese maple

You’ve probably heard that Japanese maples are expensive, and that’s true in some cases.

But these beautiful trees can live upwards of 100 years, which means that if you pay $150 to purchase and ship one, you’ll bring enjoyment to a yard for about $1.50 a year.

2. Raw gem or crystal jewelry

Raw jewelry is trending all over online marketplaces. You can find amethyst, emerald, aquamarine, sapphire, and even sunstone pendants gold-dipped for about the same price as a small bouquet of shipped flowers. You can even build your own with the help of an artist.

3. Event tickets

Compare a bouquet to an evening out at a hockey game or a local play. The difference is that the flowers will smell and look nice for a week or two, while the adventure will remain in the birthday person’s memory for the rest of their life.

4. Commissioned stationery

Personalized stationery is a bit old fashioned for some, but not for bibliophiles, those ignited by vellichor, or anyone with a tendency to commit tsundoku.

Click on some modern stationery makers for ideas about paper thickness, embossing, and even details such as an emblem or a dog. 

5. Reiki

Reiki is a traditional but alternative medicine from Japan that encourages one’s energy to heal. Practitioners can also perform healing in-person or over the phone. Suppose your loved one is ready to get back on track as a birthday wish, touch base with someone nearby for a gift certificate.

Alternatives to Flowers for a Funeral or Memorial Service

Flowers are beautiful, but people are beginning to rethink the elaborate displays in search of new, more meaningful options for memorial and funeral services. Here’s a small list of what you can purchase besides flowers.

6. Plant a tree

Whether you plant a tree in-person or contact an agency like the Great Green Wall Initiative in Africa to produce one for you, you’ll be contributing to the lungs of the planet. This is a beautiful way to memorialize a loved one who was inspired by nature.

7. Gift cards

When travel or time constraints make it challenging to attend the events along life’s journey, send some gift cards to alleviate stress after a loved one’s death. Stores that supply groceries, home goods, lawn care, or even local restaurants will help tremendously.

8. Wind chimes

Loneliness is common when a life partner dies. But a wind chime can be a constant reminder that they’re not alone. Whether the breeze is calm or the winds pick up, the sounds of a metal or bamboo chime will resonate inside, bringing your love along with it.

9. Donate to a cause

Copy and send confirmation of donations made to local schools or nonprofits that held meaning for the deceased. Or send a check in the mail to donate to a memorial plaque, one placed at their favorite place of sojourns, such as a state or city park.

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10. Carved birds or bird figurines

Do you know the deceased’s favorite birds? If so, choose two or three to send in the mail for display on the memorial table. Often, programs will be on display for mourners to gather and reminisce. Those small birds can act as paperweights or invoke conversations.

Alternatives to Flowers for Mother’s or Father’s Day

Your parents already have someone to love, why not give them something to do and something to look forward to? These are all the requirements needed to discover happiness.

11. Heirloom flower seeds

Organic and sustainable are words on the tips of our tongues lately, but have you considered heirloom seeds? Heirloom seeds are cultivated from original plants, sometimes hundreds of years old. So, to give an heirloom seed is like gifting a historical dynasty of gardens.

12. Gift card to a restaurant

Your parents likely have a favorite spot where they order the same thing year after year. Honor that tradition with a gift card so they can layer happy memories with more happy memories thanks to you.

13. Gift certificate for a weekend away

The gift of adventure will last a lifetime. Whether it’s lakeside, downtown, or somewhere in the middle of wine country, any short sojourn from the hustle and bustle makes for a welcome reprieve. If the price is out of your reach, a fuel card is a great alternative.

14. Food delivery

Depending on dietary concerns, you can link up mailer gift cards with a local butcher (FYI, there are vegan butchers around the country!) or a grocery store to supply the night’s meal. If you’re extra savvy, you can email a mock menu with all the cooking instructions needed, too.

15. Binoculars

Again, specific ideas offer loved ones an opportunity to create lasting memories, whereas flowers may be forgotten. If they’re a student of ornithology, they probably have a pair, but if not, this could make an entirely new pastime of elk gazing and bird watching.

Alternatives to Flowers for Someone Recovering from Illness or Surgery

Are you a big believer in metaphors? If so, gifting something that will look pretty for just a few days but wither afterward doesn’t seem to fit the profile.

16. Succulents

Succulents are an excellent idea for the person who wasn’t born with a green thumb. Cats generally don’t touch them in a windowsill, but another option is to include a hanging apparatus for the brightest window in their home. 

Pro-tip: succulents can help purify or humidify the air, and improve oxygen levels, too. 

17. Ice cream party delivery

Several companies have gift certificate or card options for ice cream deliveries straight to your doorstep. If the recipient is not a fan of milk-based products, non-dairy options include sorbets, coconut, and almond-based alternatives.

» MORE: This Memorial Day, thank those who made the ultimate sacrafice. Honor a veteran now.

18. Books on CD or MP3s

For those convalescing from surgery, “books on tape” are a great way to pass the time. If you can’t find what you’re looking for inside a local bookstore, ask the clerk for recommendations or special orders. 

Otherwise, go online for gift certificates to have the items emailed straight to their inbox. 

19. At-home spa box

Simple indulgences like bath bombs, essential oils, heating/cooling pads, and even mentholated rubs can ease recovery. You can find all of these items locally, too. Choose a reusable basket while you’re at the store and include some soft cotton towels as alternative packaging materials as well.

20. Favorite candy

Internet-based companies can hike up the price of your loved one’s favorite candies due to inventory or seasonality. For that reason, shopping in-person can save you a lot of money, especially for those hard-to-find treats. 

Besides, you can request from the retailer that they ship the item in-house. That way, you’ll save time, too. 

Alternatives to Flowers for a Partner or Spouse

Everyone is searching for alternatives to flowers lately. No matter who you’re shopping for, we’ve got some answers. 

21. Native cactus plants

Your state’s natural environments offer incredible plant species like cacti that you can order for your home. If you’re worried about any pets inside, include options to hang them by a well-lit window.

Pro-tip: it’s often illegal to take plants from natural locations without a permit, so go through a certified dealer to obtain these remarkable plants.

22. Silver bullion

Bullion can cost as little as a small bouquet or as much as an Instagram frenzy. It’s up to you how wild your spending spree needs to go. 

Pro-tip: for reputable dealers, search through customer reviews so that you can be confident that you’re getting what you pay for and at the best price.

23. Adventure gear

Adventures begin with an idea. Then, all it takes are some piece-by-piece additions to reach the goal. Hone in the extra bits one at a time with each celebratory day, and by the end of the year, you could have great adventures on the horizon.

24. Personalized perfume

If you’re thinking about the prized Italian noses of the early 20th century, that’s a far reach from what’s available today. You can find perfumers online to assist in scent creation for far less. Find them in marketplaces such as Etsy. 

Pro-tip: vegan options will not include ambergris, a substance produced by the whale’s digestive tract.

25. Beard oil

Beard care is a huge industry right now, so you won’t have to look beyond your local supermarket for options. For something more unique, type in a quick search on your browser and explore the many options.

Pro-tip: for those worried about excess packaging, just send an email with your order number to request “skipping the plastic” or to use “appropriate box sizes.”

Inspirations Beyond the Bouquet

Once you’ve discovered the perfect alternative to flowers, include some heartfelt thinking of you messaging

Not sure how? Cake has lots of resources to help you find out the best ways to offer love, condolences, and even some best wishes—no matter the occasion. 

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