34 Thoughtful Personalized Gifts That Aren’t Cheesy or Too Expensive

updated Dec 13, 2021
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I was a kid when the iPod Nano had peaked in popularity. At the time, Apple offered an engraving option where you could put any message you wanted be it a name or initials, a loving note, an inside joke, or really anything on the back of the device. I remember making frequent visits to the Apple website just to experiment with different messages various loved ones might write for me, should they ever decide to generously bestow one upon me. And even though I eventually got one myself sans customization, I was always jealous of friends who had their name or a sweet message from their parents laser-cut on the back. No matter how small, it’s hard to resist a custom-made gift!

Think of the popularity of nameplate necklaces or monogrammed towels — there’s just something so special about getting something made for you and only you. If you’re looking for just the right gift to give to a loved one this holiday season, a personalized present is sure to communicate your thoughtfulness and their unique personality. From monogram jewelry and entertaining pieces to artwork designed to mimic their likeness, you too can find your recipient’s iPod Nano: something so meaningful, they’ll love and use it for years to come. To help you get started, we’ve gathered a selection of customizable gifts below to make your search a little easier. Read on for 34 of the most unique personalized gifts you can buy now. 

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They might not be able to read yet, but your kids, nieces, nephews, cousins, and godchildren will adore one of their very first personalized toys: a wooden name puzzle. It’s a learning gift for these budding geniuses, and translates nicely into wall decor once they’ve moved on from Dr. Seuss to Shakespeare. There’s two lines, with room for a double name or a first and middle name, and you can add some custom childlike shapes in the notes section.

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Things Remembered
was $45.00

Your favorite craft beer aficionado will surely love this set of four British pint glasses, complete with their monogrammed initials. These 20 ounce glasses are specially contoured for better grip and protection from chips. Fancy meeting them for a pint next week, or maybe 10 years from now?

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Subtle and elegant, this initial pendant necklace makes a wonderful gift for graduation, a birthday, or a bridal party. Choose between sterling silver or 22 karat gold plating, and there’s even an adjustable chain that makes it easy to layer with other pieces. As always, gift wrap is free with in-store pickup from Nordstrom.

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If you’re shopping for a couple whose idea of a relaxing vacation involves s’mores and hiking boots, then boy do I have the gift for you: This custom woven throw by Etsy seller RelatableBasic, which features a minimal graphic design complete with trees, a campfire, and their initials. They can pack it on their next trip, snuggle up on the couch with it, or display it as home decor, but no matter what, this cozy cotton blanket will definitely capture their adventurous spirits.

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Document your family’s domestic travels on this personalized photo map of the United States. You don’t need to have a photo for every state to place an order: They send you a blank map, and it’s easy to use their online map maker tool to correctly size and position your photos. And rest assured, if you’re on a time crunch, one reviewer reported that their order placed in the wee hours on Tuesday morning arrived on Thursday.

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Designed for recipe card boxes, these engraved recipe dividers are the perfect gift for someone who loves to cook or wants to preserve family recipes. They come in a set of nine, and fit nicely in any four by six recipe box. One reviewer wrote of the birchwood tabs: “The quality is unsurpassed. SO happy with these!!”

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For an upcoming wedding ceremony, this custom LED light makes a fantastic centerpiece for a photo wall. Then after the big day, they can repurpose it as home decor. You choose the text, the font, backing, installation style, and LED color for the happy couple. Reviewers have reported that the seller NeonCustom is incredibly responsive to any further customization requests.

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Pottery Barn

For a housewarming gift they’ll never forget, a custom doormat with their last name is the way to go. It’ll be on display for any and all visitors to see, and they’ll be reminded of it every time they step inside the front door. (Plus, it’s simply adorable!) This mat is made from durable materials, and is sure to last for years.

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was $49.99

To commemorate a special occasion or cement a special photo into the family history books, turn it into a customized puzzle from Shutterfly. You can choose between a circle or heart shape, and add whatever text you’d like to it. My sisters and I gave a custom puzzle to my mom for Christmas one year, and she absolutely loved the adorable photo of our family dogs lounging in the backyard. Just don’t make the same mistake we did and choose a photo of two fluffy, white dogs on a plain, grassy background, because that will make for an extremely difficult puzzle to solve.

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I’ve written before about my wine-loving family: Last year for his birthday, I gave my dad a tasting place mat complete with a section for notetaking. A set of monogrammed wine bottle stoppers would be the perfect follow-up gift, embossed with the family initials, a fun saying, or a holiday greeting. Any vino enthusiast will appreciate a set of five reusable corks that keeps their open bottle fresh and ready for the next tasting.

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Your favorite gardener is probably very proud of their little plot of paradise — and for good reason! Give them one more reason to show off with this custom metal hanging garden sign. You can choose from a selection of 12 different metal finishes (including colors like blue and red) and have it personalized with their name and the year they started growing.

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Mark & Graham

Family game night just got a lot more stylish thanks to this domino set from Mark & Graham. Not only are the colorful acrylic dominos themselves so chic, but they come in an equally eye-catching clear acrylic box that can be personalized with the name or monogram of your choice. Honestly, these are even pretty enough to keep out on the coffee table or bookshelf as decor year-round.

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Pottery Barn
was $149.00

Fashion lovers will absolutely swoon over these leather trinket boxes from Pottery Barn. Available in a range of timeless hues (including navy, gray, tan, and white), they can be personalized with graphic shadow monograms for a preppy-meets-modern spin. Plus, with compartments designed to hold everything from watches and rings to necklaces and cuff links, they're super useful for those looking to get (and stay) organized in the coming year.

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Encourage your loved one to write more letters (to you, of course!) with this charming notecard set from Papier. It features playful scallops and the option for personalization that will leave a lasting impression on officemates and family alike.

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The holiday season is the perfect time to spread a little cheer, and what better way to do so than this custom Christmas tree ornament from Etsy? Choose from hundreds of personalization options (including outfits, hairstyles, skin tones, and even types of pets) for a one-of-a-kind gift that is sure to bring a smile every year they deck the halls.

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Know someone who went from commuting to the office to perma-WFH this year? Splurge on a few signature office accessories for them, like this sleek and simple mouse pad from Leatherology. Made from full-grain leather (with a slip-proof microsuede lined bottom) and available in a range of hues, it features their initials embossed in gilded metallics at the top for a very dapper desk addition.

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Things Remembered
was $70.00

Treat the new homeowners in your life to a metal plaque establishing their homestead in style. Choose from a range of finishes (including antique brass, antique copper, oil rubbed bronze, and more), then personalize the sign with their family name and the year they bought their dwelling.

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Help your pal create a fragrance that's so totally them with this unique gift from WAFT. Upon purchase, you'll receive a code to pass along to your recipient, which they can then use to kick off their online scent experience — aka a questionnaire that allows them to narrow in on the smells and experiences they find inspiring. From there, WAFT will formulate their signature blend, giving them the option to personalize their bottle and box to make it truly their own. Bonus: The resulting fragrance is 100 percent clean and cruelty-free.

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Give your favorite sneakerhead the ability to truly stand out with a custom pair of Converse kicks. Simply choose their favorite shoe colors and the Etsy shop owner will hand-embroider floral details onto the canvas body. Custom orders are possible too, so if your friend or family member has a favorite flower or motif, see if it's possible!

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Anyone who loves the outdoors, or caffeine, or both, will get a ton of use out of a custom 20-ounce YETI tumbler, one of the best on-the-go coffee vessels you can get. It’s a preferred brand for outdoor adventurers because it keeps hot and cold drinks at their appropriate temperature for hours, even on a particularly warm or cool day. Make it special with their name or monogram: Even though colors are a bit more limited with customization, they’ll never mistake it for someone else’s.

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I have a roommate who, without fail, buys a bouquet of fresh flowers for herself every week at the grocery store. We’ve already acquired a small collection of vases, but I can’t help but love this simple engraved one from Etsy, which has room for a large bouquet and looks great as a centerpiece or on a desk. It’s 10 inches tall and four inches across, and there are five pre-set engraving styles for a first or last name. You can even upload any logo or design you want, so this would also make a great office gift.

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Give the gift of luxury in the form of Weezie's plush personalized robe. Organic and OEKO-TEX certified, this 100 percent cotton robe is cozy and made personal with the addition of a monogram or custom embroidery for an extra $15. All robes come in white, but you can choose from six shades of piping (and even get them matching towels if you’re really feeling generous!).

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The family that plays together, stays together. Spice up the next game night with these monogrammed playing cards, which feature a gorgeous blue and white chinoiserie background and custom color and font choices for the monogram. Whether they’re into poker or solitaire, they’ll love playing with cards made just for them.

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Anthropologie does it again with these adorable floral monogram coffee mugs. The houseplant connoisseur in your life will love this botanical design, complete with their first or last initial, and you’ll love how unexpectedly affordable this custom gift is. It’s even dishwasher and microwave safe.

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Mark a special occasion with these engravable heart-shaped cufflinks. Buy a set for a groom you know to wear on his wedding day, and customize them with his or even his partner’s initials for a sentimental gift he’ll treasure forever. These cuff links ship relatively quickly in comparison to most customizable gifts, so if you’re on a bit of a time crunch, this is a great option.

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There’ll be no fighting over who gets to sit in this adorable plaid lounge chair, because it literally has your giftee’s name on it. Perfect for a child’s bedroom or a dorm room, this beanbag-inspired canvas chair comes in five muted shades and is embossed with their name or nickname.

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Crate & Barrel

An excuse to eat cheese off of this Crate & Barrel monogrammed serving board is a gift I would absolutely welcome. Line up your bries, your Emmentals, and your crackers of choice on the white marble and mango wood, expertly inlaid with your recipient’s initial in brass. This is a gift your favorite food lover will never forget.

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was $48.98

It’s not too late to give the planner in your life a birthday gift: This personalized planner. There are over 15 spreads inside to assist with scheduling, finances, goal-setting, wellness, and more. You can even choose the skin tone of the woman on the cover, as well as what month you’d like it to begin and the name on the cover. The attention to detail is sure to wow whomever is lucky enough to receive this planner.

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Uncommon Goods

Honor the baseball fan in your life with a custom-made plate, complete with their last name and number (or their favorite player’s number, or a significant date, you get the idea). Cut to the exact dimensions of a regulation home plate, this wood wall hanging makes for amazing bedroom, office, or TV room decor.

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was $105.00

Etsy artist HeyDarcey makes these absolutely adorable coffee mugs, available in three different styles, with custom portraits of you and your partner. Simply send her photos of yourself and your loved one, and she’ll work with you one-on-one to capture your essences in mug form. It will take three weeks from the day you purchase to the day you receive your mug, but I think these precious caffeine vessels are well worth the wait.

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Your favorite outdoorsy person will be eager to pack their brand-spanking-new custom Leatherman bond knife on their next adventure. The multi-use tool contains 14 different essentials, including pliers, wirecutters, a bottle opener, and three different screwdrivers. The Portland-based company then adds a laser-etched version of your artwork, text, or pattern to the handles and blades, making it a truly one-of-a-kind gift.

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Uncommon Goods

Family game night can now be as wholesome as it is competitive. Personalize this board game with your last name and anniversary, and you’ve got a holiday tradition in the making. Handcrafted in North Carolina, even the blank holes on this game are heart-shaped. Can someone pass the tissues?

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Birthdate Candles
was $59.99

In a recent review, AT commerce managing editor Ivy said the Birthdate Candle is “Total thoughtfulness, customization, and fun, all in a luxe candle,” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s the customized gift you can give to anyone and everyone: Each scent profile is 100 percent unique, and includes a personality assessment based on their astrological sign, tarot card, and ruling number. They’ll even be able to re-use the glass for long after the 60-80 hours it takes to extinguish the wick.

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was $53.99

Pet parents will take any excuse to show off their furry children, so they’ll absolutely love this custom crewneck complete with a portrait of their cat or dog. Etsy seller theembarkingdogandco makes unisex crew necks in flattering muted shades, and you can message them a few photos of the furry friend in question after purchasing, and then they'll create a custom outline portrait to add to the right side of the chest. You can also add their companion’s name if you so desire, or let the world know exactly who they are with a statement like “Biscuit’s mom.”