As holiday shopping is in full swing, you may simultaneously know exactly what to get certain people and be completely stumped when it comes to others. Determining gifts by your various relationship circles is definitely a thing. For instance, you know your best friend collects tea cups, so it’s pretty easy (and fun) to find one she doesn’t have. Yet, when it comes to a new friend or work acquaintance, what then? You may not know them as well, so coming up with a unique gift may be more of a challenge.
“There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ gift, so once you let that go, you can enjoy giving gifts without the stress,” Aileen Avery, author of Gift Rap: The History and Art of Gift Giving, tells TZR in an email. “A little planning ahead of time will also go a long way in making for an easier, happier gift-giving season.” Mercedes Sanchez, lifestyle expert of Be Chic Mag, adds that whether it’s shopping for a loved one or an acquaintance, choosing the right gift can be challenging. “For one, you don’t want to offend them with a boring item, but you also shouldn’t overspend,” she tells TZR in an email. When looking for a gift, consider how long you’ve known the person and the depth of your current relationship. To help you make the right choice ask yourself the following question: ‘Is the gift choice useful, thoughtful, and within budget?’”
No matter what your spending cap is this year, below, gift-giving experts share some recommendations for the gifts to get each type of person in your life — yourself, intimate partner, family members, friends, acquaintances, and even the occasional stranger.
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Yes, you should treat yourself to a little something this year (and every year). Lindsay Roberts Schey, founder of TheGiftInsider.com, says that wellness gifts are huge when it comes to self-gifting. “We love gifts that focus on your health and well-being, especially these days,” she tells TZR in an email. “Aromatherapy diffusers, athleisure sets, and Bala Bangles are all great. We also are big fans of ‘happy gifts’ — a bright pink Apparis throw blanket, the latest Lele Sadoughi headband, or silk pajamas — something you might not splurge on during the rest of the year.”
Elisabeth Jones-Hennessy, founder & CEO of GiftMeChic.com, also has an idea of what you can gift yourself. She says she’s very into into wellness, spirituality, and self-care, and talks to her tarot card reader every few months. “She blows my mind every time — she’s amazing,” Jones-Hennessy tells TZR in an email. “Everyone I know who has had a session with her calls me freaking out because she’s so talented and connected into the spiritual world. If someone gifted me a session with her, I’d be thrilled.”
Avery, too, says self-care is so important these days and that we should all treat ourselves to the little pleasures in life. She recommends gifting yourself something such as an audio subscription, like Audible, to listen to your favorite books or find new ones. (You can currently get a month free.) Or you may prefer a massage, facial, mani/pedi, or even goat yoga. “You can’t not laugh at that one,” she says.
Sanchez, too, touts a wellness gift and thinks the end of the year is the perfect time to consider your financial goals. “If you want a holistic approach to financial wellness, consider booking a Money Reiki session,” she says. “I recently treated myself to a virtual session (body scan and all), and I don’t regret it. I can’t wait to put my new found clarity into practice.”
When it comes to gift-buying for your partner, these are the type of gifts to think long and hard about, Roberts Schey explains. “Think of the type of person they are and what they really love and go from there,” she says. “You want them to open the gift and know you picked it out just for them.” A few ideas she recommends include a Theragun for fitness fanatics, a photo gift from Artifact Uprising, or an experience gift, like a bourbon or tequila tasting that you can do together. “If you’re new in a relationship, getting to know the other person is so much fun,” says Avery. “A game like The Adventure Challenge will help (and they also have a naughty version).” She, too, thinks a photo gift is a good idea if you’ve been in a relationship a while. “Putting together a photo book of all your life moments together will remind you both of why you’re still together,” she says.
Sanchez adds that when it comes to a gift for your significant other, consider getting them something that brings you closer together — literally. “Aromatherapy via a rose body massage oil has several benefits, including relaxation and leaving your skin feeling soft.” And don’t forget a personalized card to top it all off, says Jones-Hennessy. “Handwritten cards and love notes are super special, meaningful, and can be kept a lifetime. Cardsome is my favorite brand for all things stationery,” she says.
When looking for the ideal gift for your family members, Roberts Schey says to go for one thing: Fun. This can include game night ideas, karaoke machines, fondue kits, and the like, she says. “Smart home gifts are always a great way to go, as well,” she adds. “Nest cameras, an Amazon Echo, or Ring cameras are all great gifts for family members.” Sanchez says you may want to help a family member’s wellness journey, too. “Right now, there’s buzz about the Oura Ring,” she says. It’s a unisex ring that measures your heart rate around the clock. “It uses data points, along with an accelerometer to detect movement and tracks your sleep and activity,” she adds. “It then transmits your results to an accompanying app via Bluetooth.”
Avery says when it comes to choosing gifts for both family and friends, she always tells people to listen closely throughout the year. “People always tell you what they want through statements like, ‘Someday, I’m going to get…’ or ‘I love the smell of that lotion!’ Write it down and you’ll have a ready-made list come Christmas.”
When shopping for friends, Roberts Schey says this is where you want to put in some effort and gift something personalized or picked just for them. She recommends a personalized AirPod case, beaded bracelets or barrettes with their name, a personalized jewelry travel case, or a fun candle that just screams, “Picked just for you!”
Jones-Hennessy says she loves gifting friends. “Hopefully, you know your friends well enough to truly find items that feel meaningful and personal,” she says. Avery, too, says the “friends” gifting category is her favorite. “You should know your friends very well, and if you’re paying attention, you know what they like,” she says. For the friend who likes to cook and garden, she suggests a book like Kitchen Garden Revival. For someone who has everything and loves getting mail, she recommends The Mysterious Package Company, which sends them a theme-based package, from adventure to sci-fi to horror (and more). And for a socially conscious friend who enjoys artisanal products, you can get them a noodle bowl (which they can use for many things, not just noodles).
Gifting acquaintances may require a bit of homework as they can fall into a number of categories: neighbor, coworker, dogwalker, etc. “Ask a mutual friend about this person and their likes or dislikes,” Jones-Hennessy says. “Or, even broadly, think about what you know about them or things they’ve told you about themselves.” She recommends these Assouline Travel Set of Notebooks, which cover a wide array of interests, including travel, writing, and luxury in an affordable, colorful, and cheerful way. Edible gifts are also a great way to go for acquaintances, says Roberts Schey. “We love finding things that are unique and a little under the radar,” she says. Some fun ideas she suggests include festive candy boards, s’mores kits, and Spots NYC (personalized jumbo marshmallows). Homemade baked goods are also a great way to go here.
Avery agrees, saying things to eat, like artisanal chocolates or a gift card to a local coffee shop (a place they frequent), are no-fail gifts for acquaintances. “This group will probably include people like your mail carrier and your child’s teacher,” she says. “You don’t need to spend too much, but make sure you include a handwritten note to express your gratitude and holiday wishes.” Sanchez also recommends not spending too much, but choosing a gift that’s safe and affordable, perhaps something they can use at home or at the office. “Zoom calls aren’t going anywhere just yet,” she says. “With this WorkRobe, you can turn on your webcam in your loungewear without worrying about looking unprofessional.”
Jones-Hennessy says that gifting strangers can be a challenge, so it’s best to stay safe and get something generally liked by most people, such as this House of Waris Botanicals Tea Care Package or Mr. P’s Jam Trio Gift Set. “You can’t go wrong with soothing decaf tea or yummy artisanal jam,” she says. Sanchez, too, recommends getting something pretty general that most people would like. “When it comes to strangers, I recommend keeping the gift simple and the costs low,” she says. “On Amazon, you can find many gifts for under $15! For instance, who doesn’t love a cozy throw during this time of year? Even if you don’t know the person well, or at all, a sherpa blanket can be used in a freezing office or even while catching up on your favorite shows from the couch.”
Another gift idea Sanchez has is getting a scheduler or planner. “It will never go out of style,” she says. “Even in this digital world, many prefer to jot dates down in an old-school calendar.” And Roberts Schey says she doesn’t necessarily recommend gifting strangers. But if you do, an edible gift or a gift card is always a safe bet to someplace accessible to everyone, like Amazon, Target, etc. And you can always pair it with an edible treat, such as hot chocolate bombs or a s’mores kit.