2020 Update: We still think these are some fun gift ideas, but you may also want to check out our latest gift ideas.
We talk a lot about buying stuff for ourselves on this blog, but we thought we’d start a thread about what to give the others in your life.
Personally, we tend to get a few small things for close friends and girlfriends, and bigger gifts for close family members (and, usually, a large cash gift for our secretary paired with some token physical gift, like flowers). Some of our suggestions, after the jump — please chime in with your own gift ideas in comments.
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2020 updated images via Stencil. Originally pictured at top: And Presents by the Tree, originally uploaded to Flickr by jpellgen.)
|For the Girlfriend Who Likes To Drink: The BUST store has these great martini glasses with one of Dorothy Parker’s (in our opinion) best poems ever: “I like to have a martini, Two at the very most,Three I’m under the table, Four I’m under my host!” (They have a lot of other great kitschy gifts for girlfriends, also.) The glasses are $23 at BUST.|
|For the Philosophical “I Don’t Need Stuff” Friend: Get them something small from the Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild store (such as the Scream Little Thinker, pictured, $17.95) and a charitable gift, such as something from Heifer.org, which uses your donation to purchase animals for families in need.|
|For the Prankster: The Onion Store has a ton of great gifts. We’re particular fans of the Decoy Gift Boxes — for those of you who reuse boxes for gifts, it’s a great funny alternative. Set of 4, $22.95 (was $30).|
|For the Sports Fan: There are a variety of companies that offer screenprints of jerseys and shirts from years past. For example: Ebbetts Field Flannels specializes in now-defunct leagues and teams (such as the 1953 Hot Springs Bathers, t-shirt for $24).|
|For the Internet-aholic: One of the really cute new lightweight, small laptops, such as this Toshiba Mini NB205-N312/BL — these lightweight, cute laptops (yes, there is one in pink as well) are only $368, and ideal for the constant traveler who just wants access to the Internet and to some word processing in a pick-up-and-go form.|
|For the person you really, really like who has something to celebrate: Send champagne. Especially if you can’t be there in person to raise a glass with her in person. (We would even argue that this would be an appropriately festive gift for a mother-to-be — she could just keep it on ice until she and her husband can drink it.) Our favorite kind is the reasonably priced Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label – Champagne & Sparkling, available at Wine.com for $44.|
|For the Constant Traveler: The Kindle, available at Amazon.com for $259. Books in 60 seconds, and it works internationally. Our friends who have this rave about it for it’s easy, readable screen, and the ease with which they can buy books. You can even get them an Amazon gift card to get them started.|
|For the New Parent: An amazing camera, such as the Canon PowerShot SX200IS. A friend of ours just got this one (after a lot of careful research) and the pictures are a-ma-zing. And it’s a point-and-click, the best part. This one is $291 at Amazon.|
Gifts to Avoid
We love our friends, but we would argue that the following gifts are never appreciated:
- Soap — we’re not alone here: stop giving us soap. Unless you’re trying to tell us something…
- Other bath products — Unless we have proclaimed a love for bubble baths… otherwise, let us choose our own personal products.
- Perfume — This always stinks of a re-gift.
- Pajamas — Does anyone do this anymore? We went through a phase a few years ago where everyone gave us pajamas.
(We would argue that the only exception to this is when you’re buying something from a store with a great return policy — in which case the gift really serves as a slightly more thoughtful gift card.)
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Wow, my best gifts have been bubble bath/lotion/body butter/bath beads sets from The Body Shop.. I never buy them for myself, but love them as gifts. I love to soak in baths in amazing aromas…Same thing with pajamas, slippers, and nice warm socks — too cheap to buy the nice ones so love them as gifts.
I’m always thrilled to get stuff from Lush, especially their bath bombs. I can never justify the expensive for myself (well, I do, but always feel guilty about it), and I love their stuff. But I do agree that it depends on the friend; I wouldn’t get it for a friend I knew didn’t take baths.
I love bath and body stuff too. And a nice bottle of a high end fragrance that I’ve been coveting is always appreciated.
I hate soap/lotion/bath gifts too — I have SO many soap sets and usually end up regifting them or throwing them out. Ugh.
I usually re-gift them to my assistant along with a large cash gift
I think I may buy that Mini Notebook for myself this year! I travel A LOT, so the battery life and weight are huge factors for me.
I was just thinking that I should buy it for myself too. :-)
A great gift for out-of-town guests (especially ones who don’t come into your town very often) is something that has a regional or local flair. We have a phenomenal candle company in my hometown that makes truly superior candles. I always try to pick up a bunch around Christmastime. Make great hostess gifts too, and I’m supporting local business and regionalism. I like that.
What would be an appropriate gift to give to a long-term boyfriend’s family members?
Specifically, I need to think of something for the parents & his grandmother; and also, for his brother & sister-in-law and their kids (baby boy & 2 girls, ages 3 and 6).
I find this really confusing because I am pretty sure the mom, grandma and sister-in-law will each get me something individual. I would rather not buy every single member an individual present though (there’s 1 of me, 8 of them). Any ideas for something to give to the parents-jointly, and for the sister-in-law/brother – also jointly?
Thanks in advance — been racking my mind to no avail!
(Obviously, I will figure out gifts for kids … though if anyone knows what 3 and 6 year old girls are into these days, let me know… especially if it can be similar for them so I don’t bring on any sibling fighting)
You could give the brother/sister-in-law & kids one gift, like a “family movie night” basket using a cute popcorn bowl and fill it with smaller bowls, popcorn, snacks, and a couple of family dvds. Alternatively, you could put together a “family game night” package with a couple of age-appropriate board games, snacks, etc. You get the idea.
I love the idea of a family gift — and movie night sounds really cute — but I am concerned with getting stuff they already have (e.g., DVDs they own, games they already have, etc.). Should I just not worry about this, figuring even if they have 1 DVD, they won’t have all 3?
[There’s no way for me to find out what they have in advance without giving this all away]
Can your boyfriend scope this out or offer suggestions on which DVDs they might like?
I wish. He’s as clueless as I am and because he’s the baby in the family, he has never even got any of them presents before (terrible, I know). I just don’t think I can go over for Xmas dinner & do the same!
My brother’s girlfriend is an excellent baker, and always gives all of our family members a tin of cookies for Christmas. We totally get that she shouldn’t be thinking up individualized gifts for everyone, and we love the cookies!
What about a gift card to blockbuster? Or a family movie package so they can go out to a movie as a family? Maybe gift cert to the zoo/science centre/amusement park? I love getting experience gifts for people because I think we have too much ‘stuff’ in general.
As for games – I’ve heard the new Sorry Sliders is a great game. My boys are 9, 7 & 4 and they all think the new Uno Moo game looks great. Any of the Cranium games are always fun. Ask for a gift receipt when you buy the game so they can exchange it if necessary.
I always go with food gifts. This year, I ordered a Harry & David gift basket for the BF’s family. In past years, I have ordered from Collin Street Bakery. I find that these are often good gifts for my more distant relatives also.
Harry & David gifts are the best! I received some of their amazing pears a few years back and have loved their gifts ever since!
I hate food gifts, because I have a lot of health-related dietary restrictions and food gifts are inevitably something really tempting that I shouldn’t eat. I think they’re a good gift for someone you know will appreciate it (like your in-laws), but not a good gift for someone you don’t know well.
For the long-term boyfriend’s family I would recommend you put together a few simple collage photo frames of your boyfriend and his family – (obvi, photos that do not include you). You can find some very cool, very inexpensive frames at Walmart or Target. Use baby photos, growing up photos, recent photos, etc. If all you can get your hands on are hard copies, scan them in hi-res and you will be shocked at the quality. Walgreens.com has some great ideas for collages and they offer services all electronic (I use them for everything photo!). If getting photos is difficult, employ the rest of the family as though you are just doing it for another part of the family… i.e. ask the brother for pics for the parents, and vice versa. The grandma might be a real help for this!
If you think acquiring photos just might be too difficult, I would go with the Group Gift. Get the brother (& fam) two different board games – one grown up one (think Balderdash or even Jenga) and one kids one or a really cool puzzle (maybe from a museum in your area?). For the parents, perhaps they would enjoy tickets to the local zoo or theater or museum. You could easily create a small, but clever, creative basket that includes visors, sunscreen, a small stuffed animal and tickets to the zoo or amusement park. I have lots of other ideas if you don’t think these would work… :)
This looks like it might have some good ideas for you…
If the parents are not opposed to electronic gifts (check first) the very best gift I ever bought for my kids in terms of continued usage has been their leapsters. My oldest got his first at age 3, and still uses 5 years later, and same for my daughter. they get to play the games, all having alearning component and the cartridges progress with their ages.
If you can find one or two, the hot gift for little girls this year are Zhu-Zhu – which a play hamsters that are like $7.99.
Must you buy gifts for the adults? We tend to buy only for the children in my extended family…
Can’t believe you didn’t mention chocolate – a tastefully small box of high-end chocolates goes a long way.
Cashmere scarves are also a great gift – the type of thing you might not buy yourself but would love to own, and there are some great deals out there this year. My personal fav is this ruffled one at Ann Taylor: http://www.anntaylor.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=22004&N=1200064&pCategoryId=3941&categoryId=214&Ns=CATEGORY_SEQ_214&loc=TN&defaultColor=Aubergine&defaultSizeType=Regular
x2 on what to get the long-term boyfriend’s family. I’m having the hardest time with that.
@TX1978–A lot of vineyards have yearly/monthly wine club memberships. I got that for a friend’s family that let me live with them while I summered. Sadly my bf’s parents are not big drinkers.
Same with my guy! I considered getting the parents a gift basket, but then bf said that they always end up giving him their gift baskets from other people, so that doesn’t seem too thoughful.
I like the idea of one bunch of stuff for everyone but it’s just so hard to think of what they may all like. Maybe food gifts could work though… some hot chocolate maker & lots of cocoa & accessories?
On an aside, one of my all time supereasy favorites to receive is a magazine subscription (and the perk is that around this time of year, it’s often buy one, get one free so you can get yourself a year’s worth of reading at the same time as getting a friend a gift).
anyone have suggestions for guys that aren’t sports fans? I find guys are much harder to shop for the girls.
are you thinking small gifts or large? is there another hobby involved?
a nice bottle of alcohol (good whiskey, e.g.) or a beer of the month club is usually appreciated (they have nice ones for around $50)
a good book or several . . .
ties are always an option, as are cufflinks, moneyclips, and briefcases (assuming the guy is a professional type — even if it seems boring, it will be appreciated down the line)
tickets to something else — like a play, a comedy show, a concert, etc.
gadgets (check: hammecherschlemmer.com or brookstone (also check my spelling :))
or . . . you could always go the gag gift route & get a snuggy, it might even get some use during winter ;)
I often go with tickets to a comedy club (thank God for Second City, for those of us in Chicago). If the guy in question is a beer drinker, it’s also fun to do a “make your own” 6 pack with really esoteric beers or beers that are only available seasonally. If you do happen to live in Chicago, Goose Island will fill a growler with whatever beer you like at the brewery, which is the only way (I think …) to purchase their super small batch beers.
If your guy friend is an engineer, you should check out this (out-of-stock) remote control flying saucer. It was my husband’s favorite gift last Christmas — it’s deceptively challenging to fly, which made everyone want to try it for the rest of the holidays. The website has other remote control toys, but the UFO is the best.
CJ in CA
My father and brother both love movie sets. Usually it’s a set of classic movies some of which they haven’t seen, some seen etc. Like this: http://www.amazon.com/TCM-Greatest-Classic-Films-Collection/dp/B002GSXKQU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1259031252&sr=1-3
It gives everyone something to do when we’re all stuck together for a while.
I personally love to get TV on DVD, so if they like particular old or new show (MASH, Star Trek, Baywatch, etc.) you could get a season of that on DVD. I also get iTunes gift cards for my brother and physical CD’s for my Dad. Also, theatre gift certificates are great. If the guy in question is not your BF, and has a GF it can be a great, free date night.
I’m ridiculously into scarves this year. Grandma? Michael Kors infinity scarf. Brother? Gray cashmere scarf. Sister-in-law? Juicy Couture scarf. Please tell me people love scarves!
I always get books for kids. It seems like they get so many toys and clothes, and no one ever gives books. B+N usually has a decent kids’ selection but I like to go to the independent bookstores (if there are any left!) and ask them what they recommend.
I like getting bath products but not from bath and body works! LOL. I find their stuff too scented. I love Origins stuff though.
I love to give books, too! If you make a list, go to Amazon.com and order them all at once. You will get free shipping and save at least 3.00 per book.
Yeah, giving pre-teen girls books that are not Twilight is incredibly satisfying; I recommend Tamora Pierce.
Agreed. My oldest is getting the complete set of the Lemony snicket series, among others… My little one got a couple of book sets last year (Dora/Backyardigans etc…) and she loved them!
Could not agree more with this! I have a new baby niece this year; I’m already debating what book to start off her future library with. :D
i have to disagree on the gifts to avoid. bath products and pajamas both make my top 5 wishes list.
I second the pajamas (also slippers, bathrobes). I hate perfume and anything scented, but love cozy pajamas and they’re the kind of thing that is so unnecessary (you can always wear your sweats etc.) that I hardly ever buy for myself.
I SO want a new bathrobe. A really nice one because mine is 10 years old! Somehow I can spend $100 on a pair of shoes but can’t justify coughing it up for a bathrobe that I wear every day after the shower… Sigh.
NB: they also make college sports team Snuggies these days. I’m totally getting one of those for my college student brother who lives in a “cold-air” frat.
Also, the Sundance Catalog “Almanac” (I think it’s called…) has great men’s gift ideas if you’re buying for a woodsy kind of guy. They also have selections of books for men where you get 7 or 8 different “man-friendly” books along different themes.
is the snuggie a gag gift?
I wouldn’t want one, but I will be getting one for my mother this year. She adores them and won’t order one for herself. I also getting her a new laptop. While the laptop is clearly the more useful gift, I have a feeling the snuggie will be more appreciated since she knows how much I despise them.
Re: gifts for kids: I always avoid giving toys that are gender specific or stereotypes, especially for little girls. I get games, blocks, or puzzles that have some universal appeal.
The Quadrilla marble sets are fantastic for ages up to 8 or 10. They are pricey, but very high quality. Great if you need to give a “big” gift to a kid or two, but don’t want to give something trendy.
If you haven’t seen them, they are wooden ramps and blocks that you put together and then roll marbles through. Infinite possibilities, fun for adults to play with, too. Educational, not plastic.
I have a work gift question. I started as an attorney in a small firm around 9 months ago. I know we do a secret santa for the attorneys and staff, but should I also plan on getting my boss and my secretary (shared with another attorney) something? If so, what and how much do I spend? All suggestions appreciated, as I’ve never had to do this before.
I am also a relatively new attorney and I’ve done a fair amount of recon on the topic of what to get your secretary. The general consensus among my friends and the younger associates at my firm was that you should definitely get your secretary something and that the most popular gift is a Visa gift card that you can spend anywhere. Most people I know are giving $100. Some of them also give flowers or chocolates.
I don’t know anyone who gives their boss something, except for a couple of secretaries who give their partner something small – I think that is unusual unless the secretary and attorney have been working together for forever and they always exchange gifts.
I was always told that it is not a good idea to buy a gift for your boss, unless you get together with a group of your peers who are all overseen by the same boss (and then the gift should not be “personal” in nature). As far as your secretary, it would probably be nice if you pitched in with the other attorney who shares her/him and get a nice gift.
I have heard from various mentors/older co-workers that gifts aren’t appropriate in a “gifting up” chain to bosses, supervisors but “gifting down” to those that you supervise is appropriate. However, I think that it’s impossible to go wrong with a small token gift or more personal group gift to a boss/supervisor. Also, it probably also depends on your office culture.
Just my two cents.
There was a poll on this last year, though at a small firm it might be worth asking around a bit since I imagine that varies a lot firm to firm.
M in CA
It’s definitely a good idea to get your secretary something. One note re: Visa gift cards, I received one as a gift once and it turns out that there are often fees attached to gift cards from banks. Quite annoying when I think I’m about to buy a nice “gift” for myself and I have to actually pay for part of it. There was an extensive debate here last year regarding cash v. gifts for secretaries, but I have never gone wrong with cash — either giving or receiving! :)
Best of luck!
It is also regional – I would definitely not spend more than $40-50 on my secretary, but I am (1) in a small firm and (2) not in NY.
True on the Visa cards. We got a couple for our wedding, and a lot of places don’t take them. If you don’t spend it all at once, they start tolling the balance, too.
I may go with a Godiva truffles bag and Starbucks giftcard this year.
The AmEx gift cards supposedly don’t have fees and don’t expire.
I stick to the policy of not giving a gift to your superiors (except if you draw one of them in secret Santa) and most of my colleagues do the same. I do send Christmas cards to my boss and senior members of my practice group, at their home address and addressed to their family. I also send them thank-you cards at their home address for any gifts they give me. I am certain my boss couldn’t care less but his wife appreciates it, and it never hurts for your boss’s wife to like you.
Off topic question:
Is anyone planning on buying clothes on Black Friday? Are there any good deals out there that we should know about? I usually avoid the malls that day but I’m curious if anyone is planning to go.
There are websites devoted to this. I don’t know the names off hand, but have heard them mentioned on the local news. Maybe google ‘black friday deals website’?
The idea is that rather than finding out what a particular retailer is doing, one by one, these sites compile all the best deals and price comparisons for you.
That said, I cannot imagine braving the stores! Although I might see if there are any early sales tomorrow when most people will only be shopping for their turkeys.
I feel uncomfortable with the custom in NYC to give one’s secretary a gift of cash. Where I’m from cash gifts are incredibly gauche. It feels very awkward, but I follow the crowd every year and contribute to the cash gift given to the secretary I share with three others. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
I initially felt equally awkward and have opted to give a “money equivalent” instead (i.e. a Visa gift card that can be used anywhere). Ultimately, gift-giving should be about what the recipient would most like, and cash or cash-equivalents seem to be the winner there. I give my cleaning lady extra cash at Christmas too and regard that as a holiday bonus, which somehow doesn’t feel weird to give as cash the way it would if I thought of it as a Christmas present.
It seems to be totally standard, so I’d go with cash unless you feel like you’ve gotten to know her well enough to get her something she’ll really appreciate. If you get her something she wouldn’t have bought for herself, she may feel bitter that she has less holiday spending money than her friends.
I prefer to give my secretary a gift card for a store that I know is just for her so she buys something for herself. For example, Sephora.
Some other suggestions for guys that haven’t been mentioned-
DVD sets of TV series (either a season or the whole series)
You can go for a subscription to Netflix/Blockbuster if they don’t have one already, or if they like video games there’s also the Gamefly option. I have a lot of guy friends who still have the older gaming systems, so I might find them a fun game off ebay that they don’t already have.
Fun t-shirts. Corporette mentioned it for sports fans, but there are shirts for every interest.
As for the gifts to avoid, I agree with all the scent/bath-related no-nos. Some people have to avoid certain ingredients, others are very sensitive to any sort of scent at all, and even if you don’t have those problems, chances are what you like may not be what your friend likes. I don’t know that I’ve ever received pajamas or thought about it as a gift since I was 12 and VS PJs as gifts were in.
My sister and I have given each other PJs as gifts, but I would never consider that for someone other than immediate family.
There was a very awkward moment at a holiday party at my old job (for a large international governmental body) where a secretary (older and foreign-born) had drawn the second-highest-ranking person in the office (a senior political appointee and young-for-her-rank woman) as her secret Santa gift recipient and gave her a fairly sexy nighty, which said high-ranking appointee opened in front of everyone and then immediately crammed back into the gift bag while turning the same shade of red as the nighty.
Hahaha! Oh dear. What would holiday office parties be without those stories? You know she loved the nighty anyway.
I was assigned to a new assistant a couple of months ago. I’m pretty sure I’m expected to get both of them presents. That’s double the cash outlay for me this year. (Plus, I gave a present to my original assistant when I was switched.)
I think you can pro rate it though.
How funny – I love soap, bath products, and pyjamas! (perfume, not so much, because everyone has such particular preferences.) Not cheap drugstore stuff, but I’m a bath products addict and a couple of nice handmade soaps that smell good make me completely happy.
Yes! I am so right there with you on the soap products. I usually end up regifting them!
Corporette Mommy To Be
I work with a group of guys (all of us are in are mid 20’s to early 30’s), and for Christmas this past year I took everyone out to a nice lunch for Christmas. Everyone seemed the really enjoy the chance to get together outside of the office. We also pitched in for our boss, and did a zoo day, complete with 6 tickets for his family to the zoo, stuffed animals for his girls resembling animals at the zoo, and lunch, complete with a book about the zoo. He really enjoyed the gift, and the time with his family. However, I should preface this with his girls come to the office with him atleast on weekend a month, and all of us know the girls really well.
My husband gave his nurses i-tune gift cards and shuffles. They all seemed thrilled with the gift. He bought the shuffles from Target, and gave a gift receipt with the gift.
For the family, when my husband and I were still dating we gave his brothers and their wives a ‘date’ night. It included a giftcard to a steakhouse for dinner, a blockbuster gift card for us to take the kids to movies, and then we took them out to eat. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it.
How funny – I love fancy soaps/gift sets from the Body Shop and Lush and when I give something from these places to others as gifts, they totally love them! I guess many people wouldn’t spend on themselves, but love getting this kind of stuff as gifts?
We usually club together to gift our PA dept-store gift vouchers and she is usually appreciative as she has a wide choice there (hate giving cash personally though is the norm here).
The gag boxes from the Onion cracked me up!!!! Thanks so much for posting that, Corprette!
For gifts for families or groups that live in a different city, I highly recommend food reflective of the city you live in. I’ve both sent and received gifts like that and they’ve been hits. i.e., from Chicago we have received Giordano’s Pizza and Eli’s Cheesecake. It’s great if you don’t know people well, and is a gift that doesn’t have to be dusted.
I’ve also sent fruit baskets, because so many people send candy and sweets at the holidays that I think it’s nice to receive something that isn’t sugar-based.
I’m a big fan of the Harry & David pears — they are one of my favorite gifts to receive and to give.
I love the Giordano’s Pizza suggestion… I had no idea they shipped!
Oh, yeah, Giordano’s pizza shipping for the win! My roommate’s family in law school would have them shipped to us as “cheer up for finals” gifts, and it was always like Christmas in our apartment! We would buy some Chianti and invite our friends over for the occasion.
I’m looking for a nice bartending set for the man, anyone have suggestions?
Also, what about giving flavored coffee and exotic teas? I find that most people like either one, and they can fill that ambiguous area between “generic” and “personal”.
Bar sets: Crate & Barrel and Williams Sonoma both have nice options.
As for the flavored coffee/tea: I personally hate flavored coffee with a passion — it would be an automatic re-gift for me. Tea would fare better but not if it’s too exotic. I once got a bunch of smoked teas from a friend that all smelled like sausage because she knew how much I “liked tea” . . . Unless you know the person well, or it is a universally appealing tea (i.e., not too “exotic”), I wouldn’t go there.
For my $0.02…you can’t go wrong with books for the under-kindergarten set. Dr. Seuss for early readers is great and many stores offer specials on them such as bogo. His dictionary is good for those starting to read and the non-readers like the fun pictures (it’s marketed as the cat in the hat dictionary). Richard Scarry is another author. You could include some good books for parents (Ames & Ilg has a good series of “Your 1 year old” up through 11 or 12 year olds). There’s also 365 things to do without tv (paraphrased title). Including a book for parents to read to kids could help; the Winnie The Pooh series or even some classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm or the Disney series.
I second the motion on family fun night…you could go with the traditional games that often come in a wooden set. Saw some at Bed/Bath/Beyond, Target has many, and Red Envelope did in the past.
If you know the parents are into more 3-d things, there are many good block collections, most of which create famous buildings. To my surprise, Lego just came out with two which are offered through the Frank Lloyd company.
As a child psychologist, I have found that parents and kids love non-electronic toys and items as they don’t require upkeep and in some way are so “novel.” Restoration Hardware’s grouping of “stocking stuffers” is a great way to go. You could always get popcorn as an aside. If the children are older, board games … classics – yahtzee, stratego, life, monopoly (traditional) or card games … there is a great company called 12 minute games (often carried by Target or Amazon) along with the standard Uno. Don’t forget classics which can be used by 1 or more – etch a sketch, Lite Brite (?sp), jigsaw puzzles (perhaps of their home city), 3-d models of famous landmarks, etc.
You could also stock up fairly reasonably at an arts/crafts store if any of the parents or kids are inclined – paint by numbers, models, bracelets/beading, plastic/stained glass, suncatchers, string art … options endless and the basket for the gift is right there too.
Finally, once children are “writers,” many love journals, personalized stationery (I trust American Stationery co. for all my personalized items), including pens/pencils. The “Smencils” are popular with kids now – recycled newspaper content, eco friendly, and great aromas in both graphite leads and colored pencils.
More stores are carrying such items with the resurgence of “staycations.”
Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust (www.wright.org)
dr: you had some great ideas, but as a mother of three, I would have to disagree with your suggestion to get the parents books about parenting (Your 1 Year Old, etc.) First, it could be misconstrued – the parents might think you’re critical of their parenting style and are trying to give them a hint. Second, I really wanted to select my own books like that because a lot of them vary as far as philosophy goes. Third, by the time I had my third (okay, second) child, I no longer had the time or inclination to read a book like that!
I’m a parent of two, and I have to second this, Emily. I would be offended if someone gave me a parenting book.
This Christmas give a funny apron. http://www.apronstore.com/funnyaprons.htm The aprons say many funny things. Make your friends laugh all year long.
I hate food and beauty product gifts because I am allergic to everything and have dietary restrictions. I wouldn’t get this sort of gift unless you’re certain the person will appreciate it.
If you know someone well, a gift card to a store that sells items for their particular hobby or interest is nice (I’d love to receive a gift card to a kitchen store, for example). Gift cards to Sephora are always nice for women because all women use at least some kind of cosmetic or beauty product that they can buy there. If you live somewhere with seasons, winter accessories are always a decent gift (Lands End has great cashmere-lined leather gloves that often go on sale through their outlet site for as low as $20). Gift cards or passes (with a changeable date) to a theater, music or sporting event are always a good gift for someone with an interest in that form of entertainment.
Two websites to suggest for gifts:
catnapkitties.com for awesome plush cats that breathe and purr.
wouldntItBnice.com for apparel and gifts that are “Inspiration to wear. Kindness to share.” Great design and quality. Sample slogans: B Inspiring, B What Makes Life Nice, B @ [peace sign], B What’s Possible, etc.
Both of these are by personal friends of mine, so I can vouch for their customer service and all around greatness. Happy Holidays!
wouldntitbnice.com is fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing!
HOT TIP: 10% off everything thru Sun and free shipping too at wouldntitbnice.com!
Forgot to include the coupon code for the WouldntItBNice.com sale: BGRATEFUL
Humm, again, I seem to fall way outside the norms. LOL.
I’ve always worked in small offices (i.e. less than 10 attorneys), and so I have generally given the other attorneys in my office a bottle of wine for Christmas and personal gifts to my staff. I tend to get to know my assistants and other staff members well, so identifying very unique and personal gifts is possible. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Etsey for this purpose. My former assistant loves surfing and loves handwriting notes to people. I found a beautiful set of note cards with a woman surfing and she brings an apple to work every day and I found an adorable “apple coat.”
To me, gifts that show that you pay attention to their interests and personalities go so much farther than cash. Sure, cash can be king, but in a very small environment where you know your staff very well, something more personal seems more appropriate.
As for “gifting up,” again, in a small office I think it is not only polite but nice to give people you work with regularly something. But, that’s me and my personality again in the environments I’ve worked.
This year, I’m participating in the Secret Santa in my office, which typically is just among the staff. But, I’m the only female attorney, all the staff are women, and we’ve all become close. Again, it’s a small office. However, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma as I’m not assigned to a single assistant. I will use whichever assistant the case originates through – I do insurance defense so depending on whether it’s a first party or third party case will dictate which of two assistants I use, etc. All in all, I use 3 assistants, and our paralegal. What I decided on what a gift for all the staff in the office, from the receptionist to the office manager. I drew my primary assistant’s name in the Secret Santa, so she’s getting that as well.
I’ll probably get a bottle of wine for the other attorneys I work with, but I don’t know yet. I’m friends outside of work with my boss, so we’ll definitely be getting him and his wife something from my husband and I.
Ugh, all this is too complicated sometimes.
I need help deciding what to give my Mom this year. We are across the country and won’t be visiting for the holidays. I have a few little items for her to unwrap, but am hesitant about the big gift. Last year, I got her “Flowers of the Month” from ProFlowers, and she LOVED, LOVED, LOVED them. Every month she called and said thanks again.
Would it be tacky to give her the flowers again? The price for a year’s worth of flowers is what we typically spend, so it would be the only big gift. Maybe I should look for another floral delivery company, so the monthly bouquet will be different than last year?
She is the most tastefully dressed person I know, and her small home is beautifully decorated. I gave her gift cards to a couple of her favorite clothing stores for her b-day this year, and she seemed lukewarm about that. Flowers seem a bit generic and I hate to repeat a gift, and yet she really enjoyed them.
Thoughts from other other successful women who are a bit intimidated by their own mothers would be appreciated! (Hm, maybe thoughts from mothers of successful daughters who live far away would be even better…)
I don’t think repeating is a problem. But if you want to update the theme, Red Envelope has several plant-per-month gifts — more long lasting than flowers. Jackson and Perkins also offers several “flowering plant club” options. There is also the fruit of the month club, which my in-laws just love. It’s especially great if your mom lives in a cold weather area. (The fruit of the month gifts don’t really work in California because we get fruit year around anyway for much cheaper.)
There is also a wreath club — where they send 4-6 different seasonal wreaths throughout the year . . .
TX, I’ve googled for a wreath club and haven’t found anything. Do you know who sells the wreaths? That would be a great gift for Mom. She lives in a retirement apartment, and everyone decorates their doors. All her neighbors could see the new wreaths!
Try this: http://www.monthlywreath.com/store/show_product/?product_id=41227950
If I could find a gift that my mom actually liked and appreciated I would keep giving it over and over until there were no more flowers left in the world. Just my $.02.
Erin, too funny! I agree that perhaps just sticking with what worked is best. She loves roses the best, and there is a Rose of the Month club. So maybe that’s enough different from last year to be okay.
Oh, yes, go with that. It’s different and it’s her favorite. Seems perfect to me.
If anyone has to buy for kids in the range of 3 years old to 6 years old, I can’t recommend the Tag reading pen from Leapfrog enough. We got the pen and some books for my son for his birthday when he turned 4, and he hasn’t put them down yet – and it’s been two years. His little sister has been “borrowing” his pen since she was 3. I’d recommend getting the starter kit – there’s one for boys and one for girls. It comes with a pen and a couple of books. The pen “reads” (in the character’s voice) the special Tag books to the child, either the whole story, one page at a time, or one word at a time (as the child touches the words on the page). We do a lot of reading to our kids and were initially hesitant that the pen would overshadow the parent-child reading experience, but it has definitely not taken the place of that. Instead, our kids are more enthusiastic than ever about reading.
What about handmade gifts? They make for great conversation pieces and are generally very inspiring and thoughtful. Every object is guaranteed to be unique because it is handmade. Surely everyone has heard of Etsy “the handcrafter’s amazon.”
Here is a good example, wicked little candle holders: http://www.etsy.com/shop/sonyakolodij
I love Etsey and have purchased several items there for staff.
Actually, many here will probably find this incredibly tacky, but I’m putting together one of my favorite scone recipes and all the non-perishable ingredients together along with a jar of my famous home made lemon curd for all the staff members. I’m probably going to do a little something extra for the three secretaries I work with too. But, I know, based upon my relationship with everyone in the office, that this will be appreciated and enjoyed. We’re a little “treat” obsessed here.
That is so far from tacky. I wished I worked at your office, have fun making the lemon curd! You can get some really cute jars too with little “Seasons Greetings” labels. :)
Does anyone have any thoughts on sending holiday cards? For the past several years I’ve mailed over 100 Christmas cards–primarily to past connections (I’m relatively new to the professional world). I handwrite short letters/updates in each one. Is this necessary? I also love paper and therefore hate buying inexpensive cards from the corner pharmacy. Does anyone have any suggestions for nice, yet not letterpress (due to cost; I love the style) cards online? (I’ve checked etsy but they tend to be sold in sets of 4-6 and priced too high for me to purchase 200.)
For Black Friday – My local Banana Republic is doing a buy one cashmere sweater (men’s or women’s) get one free! I’ll be there!
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