Five Senses Gift Ideas

white ceramic teacup on white saucer beside multicolored flowers

One of my aphorisms is “Sometimes we can minister to the spirit through the body, and sometimes we can minister to the body through the spirit.”

If you want to give a thoughtful gift, a whimsical gift, or a useful gift, or you want to make a loving gesture, consider items that stimulate or comfort the five senses.

Note: Some of the links to products in this article are affiliate links. That means I may earn a commission if you click through and buy any product, at no additional cost to you. Many of these items I’ve bought for myself or as gifts throughout my research into the five senses.

Gifts for the sense of sight:

Gifts for the sense of sound

  • The Gift of a Podcast
  • Wind chimes 
  • Tabletop fountain
  • Bird call whistle
  • “Record your own message” ornament, book, or picture frame 
  • Hand-cranked music box 
  • Party crackers 
  • Noise-canceling earbuds
  • Playlist
  • Concert tickets
  • Otamatone electronic instrument
  • Koshi chimes

Gifts for the sense of smell:

Gifts for the sense of taste

  • Nice coffee or tea
  • Reusable ice cubes
  • Tasting sampler, for instance, for cheese or honey
  • Szechuan flowers (also called “buzz buttons”)
  • Recipe and ingredients for a special dish
  • Mints or candies

Gifts for the sense of touch:

Sensory gifts are great for everyone, whether for a birthday, a care package, or to say “I’m thinking of you.” It’s always helpful, too, to choose a gift that’s tailored to a person’s  interests or lifestyle.

Five-senses gifts for her:

Some gifts have proved especially popular for occasions such as Mother’s Day—and are great for anyone:

Five-senses gifts for him:

Some five-senses have proved especially popular for occasions such as Father’s Day—and are great for anyone:

Five-senses gifts for grads

These five-senses gift ideas are perfect for teens or recent graduates, to fill their dorm room or desk with inspiration.


  • Creative enamel pin like this color wheel pin
  • Set of fun postcards or notecards
  • String of twinkle lights
  • Polaroid camera
  • Movie tickets
  • Blue light blocking glasses
  • Color-Changing Compact Umbrella
  • Sleep mask
  • Prism
  • Fine set of colored pencils or markers
  • Light box 
  • Hues and Clues board game
  • Terrarium
  • Flower press 
  • Newton’s cradle
  • Eskesen floating action pens


  • Waterproof mini bluetooth speaker 
  • Concert tickets
  • Ukulele
  • Headphones
  • Record player




Five-senses gifts for kids

These toys, games, instruments, and activities engage kids’ senses, inspire creative play, and will keep them busy for hours. Adults enjoy these items, as well!



  • Harmonica 
  • Slide whistle 
  • Kazoo
  • Wind-up music box
  • Whistle
  • Recorder instrument
  • Walki-talkies
  • Children’s play-a-sound books
  • Whoopie cushion 
  • Xylophone
  • Rock and Roll It Rainbow Piano




  • Slinky
  • Children’s touch-and-feel books
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Play-Doh
  • Etch A Sketch
  • Whimsical erasers 
  • Slime
  • Board games such as Mouse Trap, Operation, Twister and Hi Ho! Cherry-O
  • LEGO set
  • Hula hoop 
  • Piñata
  • Magic grow capsules
  • Booboo bear  
  • Janet & Allan Ahlberg’s picture book The Jolly Postman
  • Dorothy Kunhardt’s Pat the Bunny
  • Wikki stix
  • Model Magic 
  • B’loonies

When I want to give a gift, but am stumped for a good idea, considering the five senses often gives me inspiration. There’s something concrete about thinking about “taste” or “touch” that unleashes my creativity in thinking of an item that would be unexpected but welcome.

And with the five senses, we can find ideas that are inexpensive or luxurious; calming or energizing; whimsical or fine. We can find gift ideas for co-workers, family members, old friends or new acquaintances, and for grab bags—and at every price point.

What great ideas did I skip?

Also, in my book Life in Five Senses, I describe how I gave a “sensorium gift” to a friend who was going through a very tough time. I decided to assemble a sensorium gift for my friend to please or ease each of her five senses:

  • Sight: A set of beautiful colored pencils
  • Sound: A tiny hand-cranked music box that played the song “You Are My Sunshine”
  • Smell: A box of three small candles, each with a different scent
  • Taste: A sampler of salts
  • Touch: A soft, light throw blanket in a deep blue

As I packed these items to mail to my friend, I was reminded of one of my favorite passages from Ann Patchett’s extraordinary memoir, Truth & Beauty:

I figured even if I couldn’t make Lucy deeply happy, I could provide the kind of happiness that would seem hollow if we had the money or the time to stay in it too long…I booked Lucy a massage and had her eyelashes dyed. I took her for a pedicure. I bought her the best pâté I could find in Nashville along with Spaghetti-O’s and Hungry Jack biscuits and everything else I knew she liked. We went to a bad movie and then stayed for a second bad movie. I took her shopping and bought her whatever she wanted. And she was happy, and I was happy.

While bodily pleasures may be fleeting, they do bring their own energy and comfort.



Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.