The Parklands

Holiday Gift Ideas

Well, it’s December 11th, and the countdown officially shows 14 days until Christmas. If you’re like me, holiday shopping can be a bit overwhelming and now is about the time I start to panic.

The thought of having to fight for a parking space, navigate through a crowded store, and wait in a line a mile long to buy presents is the last thing I want to spend the next 14 days doing. I also am finding that there are really not that many things my friends and family “need” this year, and I don’t want to buy them something just because that’s what tradition says I should do. 


So, where does that leave me and my holiday shopping list? I’m having to get creative.

If you’re anything like me, the below list of gift ideas might help lower your stress level and help you feel good about how you’re spending your money this Christmas or Hanukkah. I hope this helps, happy shopping!

Amazon Smile – I’m a huge shopper. I love how easy it is to compare prices, combine items for free shipping, and read reviews on products before purchasing them. Then this year I discovered Amazon Smile—essentially an Amazon portal that lets you select a registered charity for which a portion of your purchases will go to support. I can do all my regular Amazon shopping, but with a charitable contribution included. It’s a no brainer, right? So, next time begin your Amazon shopping at and be sure to select a charity you want to support. It’s so easy and feels so good!

A Landscape and its Legacy – Everyone loves to get shiny, new books for the holidays. I especially love our Parklands commemorative book because it’s better than your average coffee table book. It’s full of beautiful photos from our world-class photographers, as well as amazing stories from historian Bob Hill and naturalist Michael Gaige. Click here to buy this book online, or visit a local Carmichael’s bookstore.


Thoughtful Homemade Gifts – Even if you don’t consider yourself “crafty”, you can make a nice homemade gift for your loved ones this year. Ornaments made from photos are always a nice present and a good keepsake. Making personalized frames for photos also makes for a nice gift that can be displayed all year long. If you’re into “upcycling” you can transform lots of materials (from reclaimed wood to t-shirts) into something unique and new. I like to combine natural materials with items I find around the house or at a craft store. Here are some great ideas from HGTV on using things you already have to create ornaments, holiday decor, and more. 

Shop Local – We are blessed in Louisville to have so many quality local businesses. You can park once along Bardstown Road and walk up and down the street stopping in a variety of shops and stores along the way that will be full of unique gifts that support local business. You can also check out Work the Metal, one of our Member Perks Partners, and receive 10% off when you show your Parklands Membership Card! Click here for a full list of discounts available to members.

Bake Something! Even if you don’t bake the rest of the year (that’s me!) baked gifts are always appreciated around the holidays. From cookies to bread, everyone’s gotta eat, and often they are hosting guests or heading to parties and need a little help. My holiday baking go-to recipes are listed below, but you can find all kinds of treat recipes online. Like I said, I’m not claiming any baking skills so those listed below are just quick and easy crowd pleasers that can be made in large quantities and divvied into individual gift-sized servings. If you’ve got more experience, maybe you can pass along an old family recipe, whether it’s a sauce, cookie batter, or soup recipe. I know our family friends anxiously await my mom’s rum cake delivery every year, and my boyfriend’s mom makes a killer henry bain sauce that has that Kentucky flair! Package your gift in cute, holiday themed boxes or bags and tie them up with a ribbon (and recipe!). Yum!

Sweet Recipe Ideas:

Savory Recipe Ideas:

Give the Gift of the Outdoors – Among our Member Perks Partners you’ll also see discounts for Green Earth Outdoors and On Your Left Cycles. If you have someone in your life interested in cycling, paddling or hiking, you can find great gifts here that they can enjoy when the weather warms up. Bikes and boats might not fit under the Christmas tree but I bet they’d solicit huge smiles and promise years of fun in The Parklands! 

Parklands Membership – You knew this one was coming. You can give a Parklands Membership at this link, and feel good knowing you’re not just making a donation in the recipients honor to support the annual operations of this donor-supported public park, but you’re giving them the gift of outdoor fun, all year long. This is great for young families, as each month we offer FREE events to Parklands Members that include interactive, educational, and recreational activities.

Make a Gift Basket – You can make a very personalized gift basket with lots of fun stuff that people will really enjoy. Especially if you can’t determine one major gift for someone, it can be a nice way to present a few smaller gifts. Head to a craft store and pick up an appropriately-sized basket (or other container), some filler material and a big ribbon. I like giving gifts in baskets because, unlike most wrapping paper, the “wrapping” can be part of the gift itself and be reused to hold magazines, knick-knacks, or even rolls at the dinner table. Picking a theme makes the basket less randomso choose something funlike sports, food and hostess gifts, or a Louisville or Kentucky theme (especially nice for out-of-town guests). Again with our Member Perks Partners, you can include a bottle of local wine from Old 502 Winery or an item from our CafePress Store. You can choose from notecards and calendars to mugs and apparel that will be sure to please a fan of The Parklands (and a portion of sales supports our annual fund!)

ExperiencesFinally, and most especially if you’re stumped, you can give the gift of an experience. This is one of my favorite gift ideas for that person who seems to have everything (or the one who never seems to treat themselves!) Movie, play, or concert tickets can be a great way to gift someone a good time. Or, if you want to make it a full night out on the town, you can couple tickets with a restaurant gift card or a promise to babysit that night. Some ideas from our Perks Partners include a gift certificate to Seviche or Wine & Canvas, or even a hot air balloon ride

Whatever route you decide to go with your holiday gifting, I wish you good luck! And don’t forget to remember the season of giving is really all about celebrating each other (so let’s all stop stressing!) Happy Holidays!

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About the Author

Picture of Ellen Doolittle Oost

Ellen Doolittle Oost

Ellen has been the Director of Development at 21st Century Parks since April of 2015. In this role she oversees fundraising functions for The Parklands, including the annual fund/membership campaign, corporate sponsorships, supporting the Board of Directors, leading major fundraising events, and seeking grant and foundational support. It’s her goal to create multiple compelling opportunities for donors to support The Parklands, a donor-supported public park that does not receive tax dollar support on an annual basis but has four world-class parks free and open to the public 365 days a year.

Although fairly new to this role, Ellen is intimately familiar with The Parklands as she spent the previous 3 years as the Communications Manager in charge of public relations, social media, community outreach and marketing for the parks. Before joining 21st Century Parks she spent three years with Louisville-based advertising agency Doe-Anderson. Her background also includes marketing and account service roles at Anheuser-Busch InBev, PriceWeber advertising agency, and direct mail marketing at Traffic Builders, Inc. Ellen is a graduate of Marietta College where she studied advertising, public relations and marketing and played volleyball. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling with her two mutts and her husband Andrew.