The holidays are a special time for everyone. The incredible spirit of camaraderie and harmony in the air inspires us all and truly brings joy to the world, as the song says.
One of the highlights of the season is undoubtedly getting gifts from loved ones. Who doesn’t love the feeling of realizing that someone in our life cares enough to get us exactly what we wanted—whether we realized it was what we wanted or not! A great, thoughtful gift is a truly heartwarming thing, as anyone who has gotten one can surely attest.
Here are 43 stories about the greatest Christmas gifts people feel they’ve ever received.
43. Does Not Compute
My grandma sent me and my sister a brand new computer one year. She’d always been very generous, but this was unbelievable. We were broke as can be and the idea of my sister and I having our own computer just for us was mind-blowing.
42. Nothing Nano About the Size of This Gift
One year I reaaaalllllyyyy wanted an iPod Nano—the skinny one with a small screen and a rotating button. I have to admit they were pretty pricey back then, but somehow my working class and loving single mother managed to buy me one. I love that woman.
My grandma sent my whole family taco seasoning packets one year. Genuinely surprising and more than a little confusing—but awesome at the same time.
40. A Hunting We Will Go
My favorite gift was the BB gun I got when I was a kid. It was hidden, so I had to go on a hunt for clues to find it. Fun stuff!
39. An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Last year, my husband got me an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil so I could draw more often. I was so surprised because we don’t usually do extravagant gifts.
38. From the Heart
I’m a teacher, and the greatest gift I ever received was a handwritten letter telling me how much I impacted a student’s life. I sometimes get a couple a year and they are always my favorite thing.
37. Wheel of Fortune
My 8-year-old son fell victim to the fidget spinner craze this past spring. So, of course, I bought him one—because it’s only $5, so why the heck not?
Anyway, the holidays rolled around, and he was so upset because he didn’t have any money to get me a present. So what did he do? He went into his room, wrapped up his fidget spinner—at the time, his most prized possession—and gave it to me.
I hugged him and thanked him immensely, and then asked if maybe we could just share it, since it’s no fun playing by yourself.
Fast forward a few months and we now have eight fidget spinners between us, because it’s become this little inside thing where we buy each other one whenever we get a chance.
36. Living the Dream
My favorite Christmas gift of all time was a Barbie dream house. I had been led to believe that it was no longer available. It had an elevator, guys!!
35. Kitchen Confidential
My best was a Kitchenaid a couple years ago! My mom got her red one a month or so early for Christmas and I had been wanting one sooo bad. She told me “Hey, I had to wait until I was 45!”
I was 21 at the time. We all take turns opening gifts on Christmas morning. My husband knew about this surprise gift. Everyone was finished with gifts till 20 minutes later, they tell me to come out into the entryway and there’s another box. In it was my pretty blue Kitchenaid mixer!!
My mom loves to do that with gifts. You think you’re done opening and then bam, surprise. She did that for my brother and I when we were younger for iPods, too.
34. Blast From the Past
Me and my boyfriend have been together since we were in primary school, which for anyone outside the UK is first and second grade.
We’re now in our 20s and for Christmas two years ago, he gave me a montage of all of the messages and letters we had written to each other throughout the years.
I’ve framed it and kept it next to my bedside ever since.
33. Leader of the Pack
I’ve always loved wolves and there’s a wolf sanctuary in Missouri, so my mother donated money to adopt a wolf for me. We got to go on a tour of the whole sanctuary. Still my favorite ever.
32. Pleasant Surprise
I was the biggest “hip-hop head” as a kid and always wanted turntables. I saw a big box under the tree for me and I just thought that has to be it. On Christmas, to my surprise, it wasn’t the turntables—it was a double tape boombox that took like 20 D batteries. I bumped that thing every day. Still one of the best gifts ever.
31. Man’s Best Friend
I got a puppy one year. She was my best friend for 13 years. Miss ya girl.
30. Popping the Question
I got engaged. He had our daughter who was 2 years old at the time come down the stairs wearing a shirt that said: “Will you marry my daddy?”
29. Sewing the Seeds
I got a sewing machine when I was about 12 years old. Best gift ever. I just replaced it about 15 years later, but that little machine got put to good use. I was a skinny kid and most of my clothes were hand-me-downs or garage sale finds. So I sewed them to make me look good! Expanded all my girl pockets. Thanks, mom! Best gift ever!
28. Not So Fast, Big Debbie!
Ten years ago, I was OBSESSED with Little Debbie Christmas cakes. Whenever my mom would buy them, I would eat a box by myself and she would have to hide them. We made jokes about it and she called me “Big Debbie.”
I REALLY wanted a cell phone for Christmas. I had been begging for one all year because I was the last of my friends without one and my older sister had gotten one for her birthday the year before. That was the only thing I wanted, I told my parents.
It’s Christmas Day and my family is opening presents. Before unwrapping, I inspected each of mine to see which was most shaped like a box that would hold a cell phone. After doing size and shake tests, only one wrapped box made sense. I ripped the paper off and I’m laughing just remembering how my face totally sunk.
It was a box of Little Debbie cakes.
I pushed it aside to open the other few gifts from my family and when I was done, I sat there frowning—being the spoiled teen that I was—watching everyone else open presents.
“Emily, can you pass me one of the Little Debbie cakes?” my mom asked me.
I was about to toss the box to her when she yelled, “Don’t you dare throw the damn box at me. Open it and pass me one like a civilized human being.”
I rolled my eyes and pulled the tape off the box to open it. Inside, there were no cakes. There was nothing but another box–for an LG flip phone. I may have cried. My mom was laughing hysterically.
27. Family Entertainment
This was the first time I ever cried over a Christmas gift. It was my first Christmas as a mom and my first without my mom, and she was the biggest Christmas lover ever. I opened a gift from my aunt, one of my mom’s sisters, and it was a DVD collection of all the classic Claymation Christmas movies (Rudolph, Frosty, etc.). I cried. I watch them every year with my kiddo.
The best gift I ever received was seeing the expression on my parents’ faces when I enlisted in the Marines and surprised them by being home for Christmas after I had them convinced that I definitely wasn’t going to be able to.
25. The Beat Goes On
The first drum kit that I got when I was 16 years old was the greatest thing ever. I had wanted a kit since I was 5. I lost my mind when I removed the wrapping paper.
24. Long Term and Short Term Wins
In my junior year of high school, the folks squirreled every penny to purchase an investment property. They clearly communicated that because of this, there wasn’t going to be much, if anything, under the tree.
Flash cut to Christmas Eve and the doorbell rings about 9 PM. I answer it to find a brand new powder blue Univega 10-speed bike.
Still tears me up as they found a way to make this possible!!! I’m 45 years old now and thanks to my business-savvy parents, my family has a solid financial portfolio. Best parents ever.
23. Game On!
I loved the Game Boy SP I got when I was 10 years old. We didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up, and it was the best gift ever. Still have it to this day!
22. Something to Remember Her By
I received a Seiko watch from my wife of 37 years, for Christmas 2014. She passed away three weeks later. I cherish it very preciously.
21. All Needs Covered
I got the Nintendo system with Duck Hunter… oh, and new underwear. Epic Christmas!!
20. The Art of Love
I was blown away when my mom gave me an art tablet when I was 15 years old. We really didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but she saved for months to get me that. She always invested in art supplies for me and I was, and still am, so grateful for that.
19. The Old Switcharoo
My sister’s boyfriend basically Secret Santa catfished me using the anonymous message feature on the website the family uses to organize our gift exchange. He asked really ridiculous questions that led me to believe that he was one of my relatives who always gives terrible presents. His messages for weeks leading up to Christmas made me believe he was going to buy me all this ugly and random stuff instead of anything remotely resembling what I liked.
On Christmas Day, I was perfectly prepared to pretend to love whatever hideous present my relative had picked out for me, but instead, I unwrapped the exact cookbook I had been dying for and the exact brand of nail polish I loved. I still cherish those items, but the real surprise was that it had been him pranking me the whole time! I had basically already thought of him as my brother at that point, but this sealed the deal.
18. The Early Board Gets the Worm
Although this was a Christmas present, I got it a couple weeks beforehand because I was visiting family that lives in the mountains before Christmas.
My parents took me out to dinner and gave me a card with enough money to buy a snowboard, boots, binding, and a bag. I literally broke down crying in the restaurant. It was such an amazing gift. I got a great board that I adore.
17. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Mine was a whole crazy story, but the gift was $12 cash from an old Australian couple to get me home to my family for Christmas. The bus company wouldn’t split my 25$ ticket between the $13 I had in cash and the $19 I had on my debit card, and the couple was behind me in line. I never even got their names. Not that they are ever going to read this, but thank you.
16. Flies Beware
My favorite gift ever was a Venus Flytrap. It was bought for just $7. His name is Septimus Prime.
15. This Magic Moment
I was obsessed with Beanie Babies when I was little and the one I wanted the most was Magic the White Dragon. Since it was one of the rarer ones and super expensive, I didn’t think my parents would give me one.
I open my present to a shirt box full of Beanie Babies and there she was! Magic!
14. The Gift of Cleanliness
My boyfriend told me last night that he was bringing a new animal friend home for our dog.
This is absolutely something he’d do and I was not happy.
Then he got home and he’d actually bought me a Dyson Animal vacuum as an early Christmas present.
I was extremely happy. It’s AMAZING.
13. Old Reliable
I got a Super Nintendo when I was 6 or 7 years old. Little did I know I would still have it and use it over 20 years later! Love that thing!
12. Oops, I Did It Again!
My mom bought me this Britney Spears perfume that I had wanted for a longgggg time. I even took a picture of it and printed it—and it’s in my photo album to this day. My mom always did her best as a single mother and I adore and love her dearly.
11. Always on the Lookout
My favorite gift was Mikasa Cheers stemless wine glasses. I was looking at them in a store in the late summer and thought they were too expensive to buy. My husband paid attention and picked them up for me for Christmas.
10. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
My best gift was a photograph that I myself had taken.
My mom died a year ago of a very aggressive form of leukemia. She was diagnosed on a Tuesday and died 11 days later.
During those 11 days, we opted for in-home hospice. While she was still lucid and awake, she met with her grandchildren and presented each of them with a baby quilt that she had painstakingly hand-made for their children (her great-grandchildren), if and when they were to have any.
“I wanted to present these to you when you actually have your children,” she said, “but that’s not going to happen, so I’m giving these to you now.”
I, in the background, quietly observing—and trying not to fall apart—snapped a photo of the scene—my mom in her robe with her grandchildren (all in their early/mid-20s) sitting around her, each with a beautiful quilt over their laps—and sent it to a friend of mine to kind of share in the pain and grief.
Six months later, for Christmas, my friend had that photo printed out and put into a simple frame, wrapped it, and gave it to me as a present.
I hadn’t given the photo much thought and had almost forgotten about it. So unwrapping it and seeing Mom there again hit me like a freight train.
9. Joy From All Sides
I’m a big fan of The Office, and my sister got me a Dundee award last year. It was for “best sister” and had my name engraved and everything. Best gift!
My boyfriend also surprised me with a telescope last Christmas. He then took me out to use it when he proposed a few months later.
8. A New Furry Friend
My favorite gift was an abandoned kitten. My boyfriend adopted her and gifted her to me. Now, she’s a happy family member and has made our life so much better thanks to her joyous presence.
7. Christmas Breakfast
My parents got me a bag of cereal for Christmas.
That probably sounds sad or somewhat pathetic, but I’ll explain why. My parents aren’t good at giving gifts, in general, and there usually isn’t much thought put into it. I’ll get generic hoodies from Walmart, basic shirt or boxer packs, movies I’m not interested in, etc.
But! One year, they gave me this giant bag of cereal of a brand that I used to eat every day back home, and that I had trouble finding in Chicago where I had since moved. It brought back a lot of sentimental feelings since I had been missing home. Plus, it was thoughtful since I had been telling my parents it was hard to find. To this day, that’s my favorite Christmas present I’ve gotten.
6. Sock It to Me!
Really comfortable socks were the greatest and most underrated, gift I’ve ever received. It may sound silly, but they are truly awesome and I always love wearing them to this day.
5. Old and Grey
My father thought it would be awesome to hype up his gift. I was 16 and had a full head of grey hair, so I received a giant box. Inside was a box of Just For Men. The gift was a hit and left us laughing for days!
4. Game Day
My best gift was a Nintendo 64. Best part was my dad took a week off work and we non-stop played Mario 64 and Star Fox. Like basically lived on the living room floor. It was great!
3. When The Worst is Actually the Best
Growing up I used to hate that my uncle would get all of us kids the same $1 pair of cheap one size fits all gloves. I clearly remember thinking how I’d really rather just have the dollar, and yet he never failed to get them for us. It was always the last gift my cousins and I would open… Thanks, Uncle Craig.
Craig was developmentally disabled, and although he was well into his 30s when we were kids he would come out into the street and play baseball with us, he’d ride bikes across town with us, buy us beer and Playboy mags when we were older… And yet every year, these damn gloves even when we were grown adults and his health was fading, and we all moved away.
This will be Christmas number three without Uncle Craig, and as I look back at it now it makes more sense. He was living in a shack that he was renting for $350 a month there were 15 nieces and nephews… We knew he couldn’t afford to get us any toys or anything, but he wanted us to have something more meaningful than a dollar bill, and Christmas was his favorite holiday.
RIP Uncle Craig. I wish there was a poorly wrapped pair of gloves under my tree this year.
2. Family is What It’s All About
Back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, my dad was dying of cancer. My mom was having to spend time at the hospitals or waiting for his treatments, so she got some projects to keep her occupied while waiting and worrying. She began working on a flannel patchwork quilt. Whenever I could, I would bring her a small bit of fabric to work into the quilt. Sometimes, I would get off the bus early so I could walk by a fabric store and bring her a new color.
Years passed after my dad died. Mom had put the quilt away. I thought it might remind her of all the scary, sad, and heartbreaking times she had hand sewed it through, waiting for the next awful thing to happen on my dad’s way out. I did not ever bring it up.
But, a decade later when I was having my first Christmas away from my birth family, she sent me a package to open. It was my first Christmas together with my husband. My family lived several hundred miles away and I felt sort of sad, but also very much in love. Inside the package was the quilt, completed. She had written me a note saying that she had continued to work on it after Dad died, knowing one day that it would be mine. I will keep that quilt all my life and hopefully pass it on to my grandkids someday.
1. What Time is It?
My grandfather developed Alzheimer’s when I was young. I mostly knew him as this very confused old man who thought he was still living in World War II. When I visited him, he didn’t know who the heck I was. He died when I was 10 years old.
But when I was 18, I received this beautiful silver watch with my birthdate and initials engraved on it. My parents told me that a few hours after I was born, my grandfather went out and bought it for me. He was not a rich man and spent about a month’s wages on it.
My parents also passed along a handwritten letter from him, outlining his thoughts and feelings on the day of my birth. It was a wonderful, precious thing to get a sense of the real man my grandfather was before the disease took him over. And to read by his own hand that he loved me.
That watch is my favorite thing that I own.