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Black Friday is less than two weeks away, which means the best November sales and deals are already here, and you should consider taking advantage of them for holiday gift shopping. Retailers have gotten especially creative with their offering of unique and personalized gifts for everyone on your shopping list this year. You can find everything from personalized jewelry and personalized gifts for him to personalized Santa ornaments inspired by spring’s toilet paper shortages. No matter what you plan to gift, it might be prudent to consider expected shipping delays. UPS, FedEx and retail experts previously told NBC News they anticipate up to 7 million package delays per day. Not to mention, popular gifts are already starting to sell out like certain Cricut smart cutter bundles and agate coasters from Uncommon Goods.
This year, our 2020 gift guide hub will keep you up-to-date on everything worth considering before shopping this holiday season. From retailer-specific guides NBC News Shopping readers have shown great interest in, like REI, Nordstrom, Sephora and Walmart to various reader-interests like gamers, techies, fitness fanatics and more. Now that housekeeping is out of the way, check out our 13 favorite unique and personalized gifts that we plan on giving (and hopefully receiving) this holiday season.
Best personalized gifts
Jennifer Zeuner makes trendy jewelry adored by celebrities like Beyoncé, Gisele Bundchen and America Ferrera. It’s available at Nordstrom, Shopbop, Saks Fifth Avenue and more. Right now, Zeuner offers more than 90 pieces of gift-worthy personalized jewelry, ranging from necklaces to the Ciara hoop earrings, which were spotted on Jennifer Lopez — my favorite fashion accessory this year. Choose from four metals — 14k yellow gold or rose plated silver, sterling silver and 14k yellow gold — and customize either both or your right earring with up to ten uppercase letters for each hoop. If three-inch hoop earrings are a bit intimidating for your giftee (or yourself), consider the Ciara 2.5-inch or ciara 2-inch hoops instead.
VistaPrint became one of the most popular brands we’ve covered this year, from its stylish face masks and face masks for kids to face shields and various collaborations with artists. And while you can find a plethora of fun, unique and holiday-themed face mask designs from VistaPrint, you can also order custom, personalized face masks for your loved ones (and yourself) this holiday season. Designing the mask is simple, too — just upload your image and VistaPrint will send you some options to select or you can design a face mask yourself by selecting the color and placement of your image or logo. If you’re a skilled graphic designer, consider using VistaPrint’s face mask template and creating your own mask in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, and then uploading to the site.
Cricut created the Explore Air 2, a highly-rated smart machine that cuts various materials, including cardstock, cork and vinyl, to help owners create custom and personalized gifts at home. For days when you need to craft quickly, turn on Fast Mode, which cuts materials twice as fast as the regular mode, according to Cricut. You can pair your new machine to your laptop or computer using Bluetooth or download the Cricut Design Space app to design from your iPad, tablet or smartphone. The Explore Air 2 comes in 11 colors, but are currently in limited stock at Walmart, so if you’re interested in ordering one for a loved one, consider ordering now before the in-stock colorways sell out, too.
Etsy is like a treasure trove of personalized gifts and an easy way to support small businesses, like seller KindredFires, who makes candles with custom labels in celebration of milestone events like wedding anniversaries, maps of special locations and house warming parties. The handmade Birth Flower candle is available in 12 scents, including Raspberry and Vanilla and Tobacco and Oak. You let the retailer know the recipient's name, birth month and you can write a personalized note up to 85 characters long, for the candle label. Each month has its own birth flower assigned, such as roses for June babies and November birthdays are represented by chrysanthemums.
Not sure what personalized gift to give the sports lover in your life? Go with a personalized sports jersey from Fanatics this holiday season, as long as you pick their favorite sports team, of course. Fanatics sells licensed gear for a plethora of pro and college teams, ranging from the New England Patriots and LA Galaxy to the Seattle Mariners and Miami Heat. Fanatics tend to have sales, too — enter the code PARKA for up to 65 percent off sitewide that expires on Nov. 18. Help complete your giftee’s new outfit by ordering a complementary face mask or several.
QuietComfort is a true wireless headphones from Bose that is available in two standard colors — Black and Silver — or can be fully customized. Choose from up to 27 colors for the headphone’s ear caps, outer and inner headbands and spacers to make your personalized gift completely unique. The noise-canceling headphones are also functional and were previously featured in our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones. “Former reigning champs, the Bose QuietComfort 35 is a great option if you want that Bose name and quality but also want to spend a little less than Bose’s flagship model,” wrote tech expert Whitson Gordon. The headphones boast three levels of noise cancellation, Bluetooth connectivity and are Alexa-enabled.
7. Theragun PRO
Theragun, a direct-to-consumer brand previously featured in our weekly New & Notable column, has five massage devices available, including the Theragun Pro, its top-of-the-line offering. You can personalize this quiet gift with up to 11 letters for an extra $50. The rechargeable massage gun boasts a 4.8-star average from more than 80 reviews and allows you to control the speed of the device.
Instead of gifting your loved ones basic geode-shaped coasters, surprise them with a 180-piece puzzle that's shaped like a crystal and is available in three colors: Pink, Blue and Multi. The highly-rated jigsaw puzzle is made from birch plywood, boasts a 4.7-star average rating from nearly 160 reviews and more than 90 percent of consumers said they would recommend the puzzle to a friend. Wayfair sells more than 60 jigsaw puzzle tables, including this top-rated model from Jumbl that is currently 33 percent off, if you want to get your gift recipient a complementary gift.
Wayfair doesn’t just make furniture — you can shop for home goods and kitchen accessories there, too, such as the World Menagerie Rafael Himalayan Salt Tequila Shot Glass and this LED grow light. The kit comes with 21 LED bulbs that peak at 850 lumens and a smart timer to help promote photgynethiss of indoor plants, like succulents and mint leaves. The top-rated kit is also easy to set up and doesn’t require any screws. If you’re looking for a larger LED light grow kit then opt for the height-adjustable, Hydroponic Indoor Grow Light, also available on Wayfair.
Help a loved one learn a new skill set while sheltering-in-place by gifting them a MasterClass subscription, which is currently offering a buy-one-get-one deal for signing up. Students can learn everything from ballet techniques taught by Misty Copeland and music production from Timbaland who is known for his work with Aaliyah, Missy Elliot and Justin Timberlake. There’s also Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator who teaches a three-hour-long course on negotiating in the workplace and your personal life.
11. Roam luggage
Traveling undoubtedly looks different this year due to the coronavirus, however, if you’re willing to help a loved one invest in future travel, gift them a personalized suitcase from Roam. After selecting the size suitcase you would like to customize, you’re prompted to select from up to seven colors for the front and back shell color, and from 11 colors for the trim. You can also add a free three-letter monogram printed on a leather patch for the final personalized touch. If you want your giftee to pick the colorways, then opt for a gift card instead. They range from $25 to $100 or you can order a card that is equal to the price of the suitcase you would like to order ($495to $595).
12. Goldbelly pizza
Instead of surprising your favorite foodie with new cookware such as a KitchenAid Stand Mixer or blenders recommended by personal trainers this holiday season, consider Goldbelly. Goldbelly delivers various foods, such as pizza, cakes and bacon from highly-rated restaurants across the country straight to the recipient's front door. The three-, six- or 12-month subscription is the perfect surprise if you have a loved one who relocated from a major city to their parents house in the suburbs. You can also place an order for a city-specific gift box like treats from local spots in New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans.
Consider treating a loved one to a digital Wi-Fi photo frame from Nixplay, a popular and highly-rated brand of “smart art” on Amazon. This particular 9.7-inch model features a 4.8-average star rating from more than 4,800 reviews. You can select from six other frame sizes and colorways, like the 10.1-inch wood-effect photo frame. Owners can cycle through images from their Facebook or Instagram account and Flickr or Google Photos profile for variety.
Best personalized gifts at major retailers
We rounded up the wide array of personalized gifts from reader-favorite retailers, along with a few shops we recently discovered, worth considering right now.
- AHAlife: Shop hundreds of gifts from popular brands like Le Creuset and Yamazaki Home
- Anthropologie: Shop more than 2,400 gifts for her
- Amazon: Shop Amazon’s personalized gift hub with gifts for everyone on your list
- Dear Ava: Shop personalized jewelry that costs as low as $39 for a set of necklaces
- Etsy: Shop more than 5,300 personalized gifts
- Gift Tree: Shop more than 70 gift baskets like the Godiva Deluxe Tower, California wine basket and fresh fruit and cheese baskett
- Man Crates: Shop unique personalized gifts for him like kits filled with exotic meats, knives, and beers and other man cave essentials
- Minted: Shop hundreds of gifts for everyone on your list, while staying within your budget like personalized puzzles and photo calenders
- The Grommet: Gifts for mom, dad and teens
- Uncommon Goods: Personalized gifts, gifts under $100 and gifts for kids
- Urban Outfitters: Choose from 100s of gifts including stocking stuffers, gifts under $15 and tech gifts
- Wayfair: More than 4,800 gifts with an average 5-star rating
More winter shopping guides and recommendations
- Wayfair's early Black Friday sales
- Early Black Friday deals on Amazon
- Why a personal trainer recommends under-desk ellipticals