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40 Sentimental Gifts That Will Tug at Your Loved One's Heartstrings

Everyone — your best friend, mom, dad or partner — will appreciate the meaning behind these ideas.

sentimental gifts
Amazon, Uncommon Goods

Some people like to receive practical gifts at the holidays that fit right into their routines at home or the office. Others appreciate a present that makes them laugh. But sentimental gifts — the ones that might make them cry happy tears — are a sweet way to tell your best friend, mom, dad, significant other, sibling or someone else you love just how much you care.

A lot of the gift ideas on this list rely on different personalization options, using their names, anniversary dates, zodiac signs, birthstones and home states for added meaning. Some of them cater to specific people, including picks that work best for long-distance girlfriends and boyfriends (an app-controlled touch bracelet set) or lifelong friends that have stayed by your side through it all (a fill-in-the-blank book). But since everyone isn't a fan of heartfelt clichés and personalized accessories, we also made sure to include several gift ideas that are useful enough for day-to-day life. That way, they'll be subtly reminded of your love each time they pour a glass of whiskey, turn off their light to go to bed or cook their favorite recipes.

For more Christmas ideas, check out the Good Housekeeping 2021 Holiday Guide for holiday decor ideas, Christmas games and activities, holiday recipes and popular gift ideas.

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An Easy Way to Wow Your Boyfriend
Exploding Surprise Love Box
4wetfish amazon.com

At first glance, this looks like any ol' box ... until they untie the bow to reveal layers of photos, memories, and love notes. There are 24 spots for photos and notes, and even room to hold a small trinket in the middle.

2 Our Adventure Book
LINKEDWIN amazon.com

This little book gives you a place to remember all your adventures together, big and small, with post cards, tickets, photos and other mementos. 

RELATED: Cute Gifts for Any Couple 

Gift for Astrology Fans
Zodiac Necklace

If she's serious about her star sign, one of these delicate zodiac necklaces (available in gold vermeil, sterling silver and 14k gold) will show her you care. They layer beautifully with other necklaces.

4 Zodiac Stacking Mug
Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters

If they're not a jewelry person, opt for one of these cozy and well-reviewed stoneware zodiac mugs. 

Subtle Enough for the Men In Your Life
Engraved Wallet Love Note
Red Dot Laser Engraving amazon.com

Cards are great and all, but they often get stowed away in a drawer or box only to be forgotten a few days later. This metal card, on the other hand, is packed with the same level of sentiment (if not more) and fits right in his wallet or card holder, so he can carry a piece of your heart when he's out and about.

RELATED: The Best Gifts for Men

6 Moon Lamp
Mydethun amazon.com

"I love you to the moon and back" takes a whole new meaning when they stick this glowing light on their nightstand. Charge the battery in full to get up to 10 hours of light, and toggle between different glow colors with an easy touch control. 

Customize One for Dad
"What I Love About You" Book
Knock Knock amazon.com
$9.98 (15% off)

Take some time to think about all the reasons why you love your mom, dad, significant other, sibling or best friend. Then fill in this book by following simple prompts, including "You have the greatest taste in _____." (For a more personalized option, pick one specific to your mom or dad.)

8 Long Distance Touch Bracelet Set
Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

Another genius find for long-distance couples and friends: When you're both wearing one of these app-controlled bracelets, you can send a signal to the other person when you're missing them. Just tap your bracelet and it'll cause theirs to light up and vibrate (and vice versa).

9 Personalized Home Map Rocks Glasses
Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods uncommongoods.com

While these rocks glasses aren't engraved with names, anniversary dates or heartfelt messages, they're still more personal than anything else he has loaded on his bar cart. Both glasses come customized with the map of his hometown, all the way down to his home address. 

RELATED: The Best Personalized Gift Ideas 

10 Personalized Family Mugs
Uncommon Goods

Surprise just about anyone in your life with a mug that has a character customized to look just like them. You can also order ones for the whole family.  

For Your Favorite Couple
Better Together Personalized Book of Love

Customize this book to highlight all the little things that make the special couple in your life, well, special. You can choose the cover design, names, genders and unique characteristics of each person.

12 Beaded Bracelet Morse Code Bracelet
LayerIt etsy.com

If you prefer to keep things private, go for this bracelet, which features a beaded message that only she can decipher. Keep it short and sweet, though: Each gold, rose gold or silver bracelet can only hold 18 letters. 

For Your True BFF
Reasons Why You're My Best Friend Gift
FabulousBear etsy.com

Like the scratch-and-reveal pages from your childhood, but way more sentimental. Come up with your seven reasons and send them to this Etsy seller for an interactive gift that celebrates your special bond. 

14 My Family Cookbook
Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods uncommongoods.com

Fill all 80 pages of this cookbook with recipes (handwritten originals or new printouts), photos of your best creations and honest reviews from your family's biggest critics. 

RELATED: Kitchen Gifts for Anyone Who Loves Cooking

15 A Year of Connection Boxed Set
Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods uncommongoods.com

Think of this as the gift that keeps on giving: Each week in the year ahead, they'll be encouraged to send a card to someone in their life and then reflect on how it made them feel. 

16 Personalized Candle
TheShabbyWick etsy.com

Before you pick from 10 different candle scents, come up with four characteristics, personal interests or quirks that define your loved one. Even after the candle burns out, they can use the personalized jar to hold tiny treasures, makeup brushes or desk supplies. 

If Your Son or Daughter Is Away from Home
State Scented Candle
Homesick amazon.com

Or remind them of everything they love about their home state with one of Homesick's popular candles. They also make scents for individual cities, holidays and memories.

Something Mom or Grandma Will Love
Personalized Birthstone Necklace
Amazon Handmade
MignonandMignon amazon.com/handmade

Each birthstone leaf represents a child or grandchild, adding up to a colorful family tree. Choose from a gold, silver or rose gold chain, depending on her preference. 

RELATED: The Sweetest Gifts to Give Parents 

19 Plantable Wish Cards
Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods uncommongoods.com

New year = new goals! Instead of jotting resolutions down in a journal somewhere, this gift will encourage them to write down 12 goals or wishes (or save a few for the coming years). Then they can plant their cards right in the ground, and watch their goals blossom into beautiful wildflowers — symbolic, no?

20 Giving Heart Pillow
DEMDACO amazon.com

Similar to a weighted blanket, this heart-shaped pillow, available in pink, gray, and cream, mimics the warmth and weight of a real-life hug. Give it a good squeeze to feel subtle pressure that lifts stress and minor pains. 

Your Girlfriend Will Actually Put It to Use
"Hug This Pillow" Pillowcase
Oh, Susannah amazon.com
$17.71 (16% off)

Whenever they're missing you, they can give their pillow a squeeze to feel your love, no matter how far you may be. Beyond its sweet message, Amazon reviewers rave that the microfiber pillowcase, available in queen, king, and throw pillow sizes, is "oh, so soft."

22 Terminal 1 Cosmetic Case
Mark & Graham
Mark & Graham

Have a vacation planned on the horizon? This monogrammed cosmetics case from Mark & Graham is a thoughtful way to help her get ready for a big trip. 

23 Vouchers for Lovers
Knock Knock amazon.com

Make it sweet or spicy (or both!) by gifting your S.O. this pack of 20 coupons. Some of them will encourage your partner to bring out their romantic side (a cuddle session) and others will give you both what you really need (quality alone time). 

24 Custom Pet Pillow

Turn an image of their beloved furry friend into a pillow they can take anywhere — or add to their pet's toy pile for a good photo op.

25 I Am Everything Affirmation Card Deck
Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

When you can't be there to tell them just how amazing they are, they can whip out these cards for a dose of positive self-talk. Each card spells out a positive affirmation, encouraging them to be grateful, resilient, open and so on. 

26 Handcrafted Holiday Snow Globes

These gorgeous snow globes with scenes of skiing, New York City, Christmas tree cutting and more will remind them of their favorite wintertime memories, no matter where they are.

27 Custom Star Maps
The Night Sky
The Night Sky

Capture the moment you first met, shared you first kiss, had your baby or shared another special moment with this custom map of the stars at that exact time and place.

28 Custom Cutting Board

Teachers are truly superheroes. Honor all that they do with a sweet gift that includes handwritten names of their students. (Pstt.. this idea can also work for grandparents!). 

29 Custom Pet Portrait
LMTCreativeAtHome etsy.com

They love you, but even you'd agree that they love their pet even more. Carefully select one of the many dog or cat pictures they've sent you over the years and turn it into a watercolor portrait in varying sizes, framed or unframed. 

Sweet Idea for Kids
Personalized Children's Book
I See Me! amazon.com

This sweet story is centered on love, and most importantly, the unconditional love that you have for the child in your life — whether it's your own or someone else's. Add their name right into the story, so they can be told time and time again just how loved they are by you and so many others. 

31 Adopt an Olive Tree Gift Box + Subscription
Especially Puglia

Whether they can't stop talking about their last Italian vacation or you're dreaming of visiting the countryside together, you can gift them a tin of organic olive oil (and a gorgeous ceramic cruet) that also comes with a certificate of adoption for an olive tree on the family-run grove in Puglia.

32 Personalized Glass Art Gift

Turn a treasured memory with your best friend, partner or other loved one into a unique glass plaque designed to look like a Spotify track. You can include your favorite song (or another message) as the caption above the "artist name."

33 Love Brings Us Home Chalkboard Sign

Bring Mom home something that will make her smile (and go into her seasonal decor rotation) with this sweet sign. 

34 Actual Handwriting Bracelet

You can customize this name bracelet with your (or your recipient's) actual handwriting for an extra personal touch. 

35 Custom Recipe Cutting Board
MorningJoyCo etsy.com

Choose your favorite dish of theirs or one that's connected to a special memory the two of you share, and then send the handwritten recipe to this Etsy seller for a personalized keepsake. If you can't make up your mind, choose two and go for the double-sided option.

36 Personalized Men's GPS Coordinate Bracelet
MerciMamanGifts etsy.com

Even if he's not normally a jewelry guy, he'll appreciate this leather cord bracelet, especially when he notices the GPS coordinates from where you first met or fell in love on the silver disc. Engrave a special message on the back for his eyes only. 

37 Compass Necklace
EFYTAL amazon.com
$39.95 (20% off)

In many ways, they are your north star, always leading you to the place you're meant to be: beside them. The compass etched on this sterling silver necklace represents exactly that.

Great for Grandma
Birth Month Flower Tea Towels
Juliet Meeks
Juliet Meeks

You can gift her these watercolor-style kitchen tea towels with the flower that corresponds with her birth month.

39 Personalized Charcuterie Planks and Beer Flights

Thank them for all their wonderful parties with this personalized charcuterie board (there's also a beer flight option if they're bigger fans of beer than cheese).

40 Custom Embroidered Sweatshirts

Celebrate your special date, whatever that may be, with these custom sweatshirts. The date is embroidered in roman numerals on the chest, and their initials (or yours) go on the sleeves.

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