‘Tis the season of gifts and giving! This holiday season, instead of stressing over what to give and battling crowds at the mall, try thinking outside the “gift” box to create unique experiences for your loved ones and friends as well as to help your local merchants.

Below are Los Angeles area individuals and companies that offer gift certificates, vouchers, stocking stuffers, and other non-traditional items, which are perfect for gift-giving this time of year. These individuals and companies are all in my local “Le Tip” small business group (www.letipculvercity.com) and the money you spend on gifts with them goes a long way to support the local community. It’s a safe bet you won’t find any typical consumer retail “stuff” on their shelves (those who have shelves, that is).

I’m a firm believer that when you give a gift that’s outside the norm, whether it’s a physical product or even a gift certificate, you show that you actually gave the gesture some “real” thought, which is often more meaningful to recipients than the item itself. And if you’re not in the LA area, I’m sure you could sit down and come up with your own list like this. Who knows, making your “list” available to others may be the best gift you give!

  1. Mary Kay Cosmetics: For that special someone in your life, try the Mark Kay experience. Email Kim Pariser today at [email protected] to set up an appointment.
  2. Soft Touch Auto Spa: For the car enthusiast who has everything, email Ryan Johnson at [email protected] to set up an appointment for him to stop by and give your car some TLC.
  3. Tree of Life Hypnotherapy: I would not promote something I would not try myself. Felice Austin and hypnotherapy rock! I felt like I spent a week at the spa after one hour in hypnotherapy. Contact her today at [email protected].
  4. Interiors Made Eezzy: Why did I ever go furniture shopping before? Sam McCullough and his team of professionals offer custom furniture and more at costs below retail. Contact Sam at (310) 842-7265.
  5. Dream Big: For that entrepreneur in your family who is trying to grow his or her business sooner rather than later. Sign up for Lorenda Philips’ “Dream Big” event on January 25. Email her at [email protected].
  6. Rubiner Photography: Holiday parties, family photos, professional photos, web site images, and more. Contact Abran Rubiner at [email protected] to capture your next big moment.
  7. Olympic Chiropractic: Who’s got your back? After racing around on a daily basis, Dr. Glenn Fischel has yours! Start listening to your body today and set things straight at (310) 477-4531.
  8. Ford’s Plumbing: Trust me! The holidays are the time of year where drains get clogged the most. Give someone a gift certificate for plumbing by calling Ford’s today at (310) 815-1515.
  9. On the Waterfront/Chalet Edelweiss: For the foodies in my network, this is the perfect gift certificate for a mix of Swiss, German, and European edibles. Can you say “delish”? Contact www.chaletedelweiss.us and www.waterfrontcafe.com today and tell Stefan the monkey king sent you.
  10. Bountiful Baskets by Jean: One of my favorite holiday gifts for clients or the office team. Ask Jean to customize a basket to your needs. Call her at (310) 582-1200 and tell her the monkey king gives her many jungle shout-outs!
  11. RISE Acupuncture and Herbology: Looking for a gift a bit out of the norm? Contact Casey Marie Smith at (310) 399-5388 and make an appointment today. The energy that radiates from RISE is amazing!
  12. Videos by Cloudwalker Films: Capture your special moments for web, family outings, or private use. Richard Clayman and his team of videographers are the best. Contact Richard at [email protected].
  13. SendOutCards: I love this online software! If you are that busy exec with hundreds of contacts and no personal assistant, then look no further when it is time to send out cards (www.sendoutcards.com). Just upload your image or choose from stock photos to create your cards and have them mailed to that special someone or list. Call Gary Pearl today to discuss at (310) 291-3322.
  14. Riviera Ink: Looking to purchase small or large quantity gifts for your neighbors or staff? Look no further. Contact Leilani Rivera today at [email protected].

What are YOU doing to support your local community during the holidays? How can you help others who are having a hard time figuring out what to get people? Share your ideas and experiences here.

Happy Holidays to ALL!