Long-Distance Gift-Giving: What to Give When You Can’t Be There in Person (Plus Some Dos and Don’ts)

10 Great and Economical Gift Ideas

It’s a bummer when your friend or family member is celebrating a special event and you can’t be there in person. Some of you might be experiencing this right now if the COVID-19 situation has you stuck at home. Anniversaries, graduations and other celebrations are continuing on in unique ways. If you’re facing this dilemma, this guide should help. We included some tips and reminders, unique and thoughtful gift ideas and helpful resources.

Complete Guide to Long-Distance Gift-Giving​


Helpful Dos and Don’ts

DO check shipping times to make sure the gift will be delivered on your desired date

DO include a gift receipt. Most online retailers have a gift receipt option that doesn’t show the item price

>> Make sure they can return the item online, if needed

DO make sure you have your friend’s most recent address!

DO wrap the gift, if possible, before putting it in the shipping box. If ordering online, select the “Gift” option at checkout and the retailer will wrap it or use a decorated box

DO tell your friend they should expect a package. The item will still be a surprise, but you won’t have to worry about wondering if they received it or not. They’ll let you know

DON’T send a gift card before first checking to make sure the brand has locations in the person’s area

DON’T be careless with packing the gift! Make sure your money and hard work aren’t wasted on a gift that gets broken in transit

DON’T underestimate shipping costs for packages and envelopes. You don’t want the recipient to have to pay the difference

Now that you have some key tips in mind, let’s share some gift ideas. These gifts can be mailed, emailed, or ordered online and delivered to the recipient’s door.


10 Long-Distance Gift Ideas​

1. Flowers​

bouquet of roses in vase

It’s amazing how a bouquet of flowers has the ability to put a smile on someone’s face and brighten up the room. You have a range of options to suit the occasion, making this a versatile gift that you can personalize.

2. Gift Card

Happy Cards gift cards are designed to suit specific occasions and all kinds of people. Choose a holiday card like Happy Mother’s DayHappy Father’s Day or Happy Birthday, or an experience card like Happy MomentsHappy Dining or Happy Graduation.

Make a homemade greeting card if you want to make it more personal. For example, if your parents are having an anniversary during a stay-at-home order, make a greeting card and include a Happy Dining gift card. (When all this is over, they can have a nice dinner out.)

3. Bond Touch

bond bracelet and mobile app

We can tell you from personal experience how awesome Bond Touch bracelets are. It’s a simple way to maintain a connection with someone you can’t always be close to. Once the bracelets are paired through the mobile app, you can tap your bracelet in whatever pattern you want. The paired bracelet instantly vibrates with the pattern you sent.

If you’re in another city or state, the instant connection can be even more powerful. You can even create unique patterns that mean different things! It brings you together in ways that might surprise you.


Related Gift Guides
> 10 Thoughtful Moving Away Gifts
> 10 Best Mother’s Day Gifts that Say ‘I Love You’ No Matter How Far Apart You Are
> 10 Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Sports Fans, Runners, Gamers and Tech Lovers


4. Skype call + Echo Show

video call on amazon echo show

If you can’t be there in person, a video call or phone call is the next best thing. If you want to add a gift item, send an Echo Show from Amazon. This smart home device has a 10-inch display built-in. Your friends or family can use it for a video call, plus so much more.

Just like the Echo and Echo Dot, the Echo Show can control your lights and appliances, plus keep track of appointments and to-lists. Since the Echo Show has a screen, it can also be used to watch videos and live TV from YouTube and Hulu and make video calls. It’s a handy gadget for the kitchen or living room.

5. Subscription Box

stitchfix subscription box

There’s a subscription box for almost anything. That means you can personalize this gift for each friend or family member.

There are clothing boxes like StitchFix or Gentleman’s Box, food and wine boxes like Winc and HelloFresh and boxes for teens like OwlCrate. You can find something for dog owners, cat owners, beauty enthusiasts, avid readers, crafters and more.

Prices range from $15 a month to $100+ a month, so there’s a gift for every budget.

Other Options:

6. Something Handmade

A handmade gift is thoughtful and personal and is especially sensible if you’re on a budget. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Martha Stewart to make a fabulous gift yourself.

Easy ideas include soap, bath bombs, hand painted mugs, candles, a greeting card and just about anything involving a mason jar. Yes, you could buy these things already made, but making them yourself means you can personalize the gift and it will mean more to the recipient.

7. Video of Fond Memories Together

person viewing photos on laptop computer

Remind your friend of good times with video highlights of past vacations or parties. If you have tons of videos and photos on your phone, put together a short montage and end with a recorded message from you.

Many phones include a feature in the photo browser to make a simple video. If you have an Apple device (phone, tablet, or computer), iMovie is a free and easy-to-use tool for making videos.

8. Photobook

woman looking at photo album

Select your favorite high-quality photos and print a custom photobook. Services like Shutterfly and Snapfish make this pretty easy and you can have the book shipped to your friend’s doorstep. They can pick it up any time they want to relive memories of good times.

Other Options:

9. Streaming Gift Card

A streaming gift card allows you to avoid shipping uncertainty. You have a lot of options in this category. For music lovers, there’s a Spotify gift card. For binge-watchers or cord-cutters, there’s HuluNetflix, and Sling TV gift cards. For gamers, there’s XboxPlayStation and Nintendo gift cards.

These gift cards can be emailed to anyone instantly or you can schedule delivery for a future date.

10. Omaha Steaks

steak and vegetables

If you can’t be there to take your friend to a nice dinner, have one delivered to their door! Omaha Steaks is known for delivering some of the best meats in the country. Have anything from a filet mignon, gourmet burger or wild Alaskan salmon delivered and ready to be cooked for a fancy dinner at home.

Other Options:


Helpful Links and Resources for Shipping

Giving a gift when you can be there in person takes a few extra steps and might seem less personal, but it’s important. Maintaining close relationships can get you through some tough times. These gifts and tips will help you stay close to friends and family and continue to give happy!

More Gift Guides & Inspiration

Happy Gift Cards issued by MetaBank, Member FDIC. Card valid only in the US, no cash or ATM access. Use your Happy Gift Card to purchase goods and services at locations listed on card.


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