Great Gift Ideas
As Christmas draws near each year, it can be a challenge to come up with gift ideas for the hard-to-buy-for people on your list. Careful listening can provide hints: Keeping track of people’s interests and wishes in a small notebook or computer file will automatically create a list of choices. You can even note items such as their favorite colors or the décor scheme in their home to help you when you’re out shopping.
Shopping catalogs and, increasingly, the Internet are great sources for gift ideas. A few minutes spent browsing from the comfort of your own home can often save hours in the mall. Here are a few additional suggestions to kick start your gift list.
If you have a gearhead that you’re buying for, find out what their top auto picks are— limited-edition small-scale models of those vehicles may be a welcome gift at Christmas. For do-it-yourself types, check whether there are new tools that they need or whether they have a rolling platform that makes it so much easier to slide under vehicles when working on them. Even high-end seat covers or floor mats might be just the ticket.
You say you're in trouble? It's Christmas Eve and you've forgotten someone? Don't panic. Buy a beautiful Christmas card and tuck a gift card inside for the recipient's favorite store. Many drugstores and supermarkets now have "gift-card malls," where you can select from a variety of gift cards loaded with a preset spending limit for other retail outlets.
For the Book Lover
There’s no end to gift ideas for those who love books. A subscription to the New York Times Literary Supplement will help them keep up with all of the latest reviews. A beautiful blank-page notebook can be a place to write up their own book reviews or even jot down bon mots from the books they’re currently reading. Gorgeous bookmarks don’t cost very much, but will prove a lovely reminder of you each time a book is opened. And making a gift of the latest bestseller while it’s still in hardcover can be a real treat.
While it’s definitely a challenge to buy clothes, jewelry, or accessories for those who are into fashion (unless you’re a fashionista, too), there are other options. Try a beautiful, illustration-filled book that describes the history of fashion or focuses on a particular designer’s work. And gift certificates or gift cards to a favorite store, especially if it’s usually out of the recipient’s budget range, will always be a worthy option. Booking a wardrobe or makeup makeover — if it’s something that the recipient really wants — can leave a lasting (and positive) legacy.
In the Garden
Even when many parts of the country are covered in snow, gardeners don’t forget that blooms will appear with spring’s milder weather. Reward their time outside with pretty and practical gardening gloves to protect their hands and soap and moisturizer sets designed to soothe and rejuvenate. Kneeling mats, ergonomically designed garden tools, and gift certificates for local nurseries (to be used as soon as planting can be carried out) are also good ideas, as are blank journals in which to chart the growth of the garden each year.
More people are spending quality time in the kitchen these days, experimenting with recipes that span the globe. As a result, there are kitchen gadgets galore to thrill the budding chef on your list, from stainless steel garlic presses to silicone heat- and stain-resistant utensils. Consider giving a blank book, in which your recipient can enter favorite recipes, or even gather some family favorites to give to them. Cooking lessons or tickets for local wine tastings might also be very welcome under the tree.
Try the DVD of Citizen Kane (considered one of the greatest American films of all time), perhaps even packaged with Plan Nine from Outer Space (considered one of the worst American films of all time). Gift certificates for movie-rental outlets or local movie theaters can give a gift that lasts all year long: Try packaging the gift with bags of microwave popcorn or movie-star-style sunglasses, just for fun!
The Great Outdoors
If you’re shopping for someone who loves the outdoors, just head to the nearest store (online or in person) that specializes in their activity of choice, whether it’s camping, hiking, or fishing. You’ll find plenty of items, large and small, to fill their stockings: Stuff bags are great for holding all kinds of gear; hiking poles (that look like ski poles) make walking on uneven surfaces easier; and specialized clothing (such as padded socks that wick moisture away from the foot) can make their time outdoors more enjoyable.
Tickets to see a favorite sports team play will score you big points, especially if they’re packaged with sports memorabilia or merchandise from that team. A program from a particularly important game, perhaps framed and signed, might be a big win, too. Also try books about particular teams or sports, or items that will make time in stadiums or arenas more comfortable, such as seat cushions and binoculars.
You won’t go wrong with travel books — guidebooks for their next trip, coffee-table books about a favorite destination, or literary travel accounts (Bill Bryson is a great author for humorous approaches to travel). Blank journals for recipients to keep track of their own vacations are also fun, as are travel gadgets such as phrase books, electronic translators, digital audio players, electrical converters and adapters, luggage straps, neck pillows, and map/passport holders.
Gifts That Keep On Giving
For the person who has everything, or the gift giver who wants a gift that keeps on giving, there are any number of charitable or nonprofit organizations to choose from. You can adopt an animal from a zoo or a wildlife association, for example, or contribute to building funds, homeless shelters, health research, arts foundations, and so much more in the gift recipient’s name. Such gifts often include tickets to fundraising events or discounts on museum gift-shop merchandise, which serve as ways to extend the gift even further. And they’re a wonderful way to recognize the spirit of the Christmas season.