6 Sympathy Gift Ideas Better than Flowers

Although the pictured bouquet of flowers is pretty, it's not one of our recommended creative sympathy gift ideas.

Contributed by Tiffany Silverberg

When a friend or family member loses someone close, sympathy is a natural and immediate response. Tradition has often called for a bouquet of flowers in memory and in good cheer. They bring a sense of brightness, life, and joy in an otherwise dark or sorrowful time. However many bouquets can turn a living room into a garden. Those with allergies or those uninterested in cleaning up dozens of blooms may prefer an alternative while those sending sympathies may want something more creative to convey their feelings. Here are a few sympathy gift ideas that can show someone that you are there to comfort them in this time of need.



Although quite related to flowers, a plant can be distinct and well received. Because they don’t soon perish like a bouquet, they can be cherished for months, even years, depending on the plant. Popular among sympathy gift ideas, plants are readily available and can be purchased from local nurseries and florists, or ordered online and delivered. These are ideal for when you need to send a gift from a far. Choose a plant of particular significance to your loved one, maybe a favorite of the one who passed or one they can transfer to the yard or garden.



Sympathy gift ideas should include thinking of the daily needs of your grieving loved one. A time of sadness can be all consuming. Provide the gift of food – whether it’s a treat or meal. If you live far from your loved one, you may want to send a fruit basket or box of candies. You may even choose a local snack or favorite of the one who has passed in special memory. If you live close, you may want to prepare a meal and deliver it yourself. A pan of lasagna or pot of stew can be served immediately or stored away in the freezer.



Sympathy gift ideas may involve something particularly unique to your loved ones. A painting or print can celebrate the life of the one who passed and cement memories of special times. Look for a landscape of a favorite location or vacation destination. You can also have a piece commissioned – maybe a sketch of a family home or a building at an alma mater. You might frame a favorite portrait or have it placed on a canvas or wood for easy display.


Memorial Funds

There is a long standing tradition among sympathy gift ideas of giving financial donations in the name of a loved one. You may choose to give funds in the name of the one who has passed at his or her place of worship, a favorite charity or nonprofit, or a local club or group. You may even want to open a memorial fund on behalf of the one who passed. A scholarship fund for his or her children or a fund to improve a local organization can be a meaningful gift of sympathy.


Jewelry or Accessories

If you are especially close to someone grieving, you may want to look for a piece of jewelry or an accessory by which to remember the one who has passed. A necklace, bracelet, or ring can be with your loved one even as the grief starts to lift. They can bring their memory with them wherever they go. Many businesses sell charms or inscriptions and you may find one that is particular to a loved one.


Opportunities to Remember

Although it may not be the best sympathy gift idea for in the midst of grief, a gift of travel may be ideal for a loved one. Let them return to a favorite location or take a genealogy tour. Traveling together and make new memories while enjoying the old ones is essentially priceless.