13 personalized gifts worth buying early

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2021, our list of ideas, by topic, by recipient and by price, to help you discover the perfect gift.

Personalizing a holiday gift is a satisfying shopping experience. And it lets people know that you planned ahead and picked something especially for them. The key to giving customized gifts is ordering well before the holidays — so that everything is ready in time — and knowing what to buy. I can’t help you shop early, but I can show you some of the coolest personalized gifts out there. I’ve found some unique products that are guaranteed to please anyone on your list, from small children to older folks

When in doubt, edible gifts, like personalized cookies, are a safe bet. And useful items like coffee mugs, totes and pajamas are personalized gift ideas that will likely be appreciated. If you know more about the person you’re buying for, you might pick something like a pet portrait or celebrity video message. Whatever you choose, adding that extra personalized touch is sure to bring holiday cheer. 

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Yes, there are still a small number of Apple gadgets that you can get engraved. Obviously, you’re limiting the hand-me-down value of these gadgets, and you’re paying a premium for them at the Apple Store, but a personalized note or symbol on those AirPod headphones, AirTag trackers or iPad tablets is a great way to show you thought ahead. Pro tip: The AirTags start at just $30, so they’re a great stocking stuffer for an iPhone owner.


Letterfolk’s tile mat is a doormat you can customize. It makes a fun personalized gift for the crafter on your holiday list, or for the person who loves trendy home decor. The mat includes black and white tiles, but you can buy extra colors separately for $12 each. Change the mat each season for cheer that lasts all year.

Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods will imprint a message on pastry chef Céline Zhou’s buttery treats, which are individually wrapped in a lovely gift box. The 24 vanilla shortbread cookies can say whatever you like. Reviewers give these custom cookies five stars, with 99% of respondents saying they’d recommend this Uncommon Goods purchase to a friend.


Madewell’s best-selling leather tote bag is a crowd-pleaser. It comes in true black, English saddle and true black brown, and can be personalized with a variety of font and text colors. Quality construction and classic style make this tote an ideal holiday gift, and the monogram is the icing on the cake.

Erin Condren

Erin Condren’s popular planners are a great gift for organized types. There are so many fun covers to choose from, and everything can be personalized with a name or initials. Features include monthly quotes, calendars, note sheets, stickers and even a ruler. I love the festive new Nutcracker design as a holiday option.


A Cameo video message is the perfect unique personalized gift for the person who has everything. At the click of a button, a celebrity will record a personalized video that you can download and send. Singers, reality stars, athletes and even politicians are among the options. Prices range: Rapper Snoop Dogg will cost you $1,200, but you can get a message from Real Housewives of New Jersey star Melissa Gorga for $165.


Add a word or phrase to MudLove’s tagged ceramic mugs for a sweet, personal gift. You can also add a symbol (like a heart, musical note or peace sign) and pick from 16 brightly saturated colors to further customize. These quality mugs are handcrafted in the US and most will ship in 10 business days, so order early for December deliveries. Bonus holiday spirit: MudLove has partnered with Water for Good to provide a week of clean water for each personalized mug sold.

My Face Socks

How can you not order a pair of custom photo personalized socks? You know you’ll get a reaction when this creative, hilarious gift is unwrapped. Choose from dozens of colorful sock styles, upload the image of your choice (a pet, child, significant other) and choose your size. Hot tip: My Face Socks also make great stocking stuffers and White Elephant gifts.

Sally Rose

A name necklace from Sally Rose is a perfect first piece of “real” jewelry. Kids and teens will love the cute character options; pick a Hello Kitty, Harry Potter, Disney or Star Wars charm to accent your sterling silver or gold-plated 18-inch necklace. This thoughtful gift will arrive in a sweet gift box, ready to pop under the tree. Bonus: I like the affordable price.

Crown and Paw

If you’ve got pet parents on your Christmas list, I can confirm they’ll love a Crown and Paw portrait. Choose a canvas size and design, upload a photo, and Crown and Paw will create a whimsical, personalized gift. Who wouldn’t want to see their dog or cat as a queen or old-timey war hero? It’s art.

Uncommon Goods

These galactic night-lights from Uncommon Goods are just the coolest. An illuminated acrylic plaque sits on a wood base, creating a warm nighttime glow. Choose the Earth or the space design and add your favorite kiddo’s name for a unique and practical Christmas gift.

Little Navy

These supersoft pajamas would already be an adorable gift, but adding a name makes them an even better gift idea. Choose from long- or short-sleeved styles and fun designs including peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, city scenes, rainbows, pizza and forest animals. And they’d be even cuter as a sibling set.

Gift Wrap My Face

Once you find the perfect personalized gift, go one step further and wrap it in the giftee’s face or your own face. Either way, Gift Wrap My Face is a hilarious way to present holiday gifts. Upload a photo (or photos) and choose from hundreds of wrapping paper designs, from Christmas elves to snowmen to menorah heads.

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