I’m a gift giver’s worst nightmare. About eight years ago, I asked people to stop buying for me. The reasons were well-intentioned:
“I already have everything that I need.”
“If I want something, I’m fortunate enough that I can just buy it myself.”
“If we’re talking love languages, I’m more of the Acts of Service type.”
But it’s also because I’m insanely picky.
Chances are, you have someone like me on your list, which adds more stress to an already stressful holiday season.
To make things easier, I’ve rounded up my favorite gift ideas for every hard-to-please person on your list, from cute and quirky to the ultimate splurge. The ideas I chose are through the lens of what I consider to be a “good gift”: things that will actually get used, are slightly indulgent, or what that they’d never think to buy for themselves.
If you’re wondering about the effectiveness of this list, consider this: while I was researching ideas, two items on the list accidentally fell into my shopping cart and are now on the way to my apartment. See? Works on even me.
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The In-the-Now Tech Accessories
So my $20 ear buds are busted, and I spend more time untangling the Apple ear pod wires than actually using them. Then my husband let me use his wireless headphones, and he’s been fighting to get them back ever since. So my top tech gift this year is wireless headphones. Here are a few versions, depending on what you’re looking for.
An affordable over-the-ear version with over 1,300 Amazon reviews, these are a solid bet.
If you’re looking for a higher-end version, these Bose headphones are finally on sale for 10% off.
Carrying around full-sized headphones can seem cumbersome. If you don’t need noise-canceling or impeccable sound quality (let’s be real, this is most of us), then here’s a budget-friendly pick for true wireless buds.
Just because it’s tech doesn’t mean it can’t delight. Not only does this “book” open up to a sculptural lamp, but it has magnetic surface for mounting on metal, and a USB charger in the spine for your phone. Delightful AND practical? Can’t go wrong.
If your friend is always taking selfies or pictures of their food, then a phone case with built-in lighting will be a hit.
Beauty Sets that Pack Value
So I’ve had my full-size Hermes perfume for about five years now, and it’s only HALF used. Smaller sets of perfumes is way more practical, and with this four-pack you can swap out your scents by seasons.
With two full-sized products that would cost $45 alone, this is perfect for someone who battles dry skin and has been wanting to try Laneige. I have the Lip Sleeping Mask myself, and chapped lips are now a thing of the past.
This set includes one product per skincare step, so it’s THE starter option for anyone looking to get into skincare.
I’m a big fan of Oribe, and you can get almost double the value in this limited-edition set. Includes one full-size version of one of their best products, the Dry Texturizing spray, and an array of deluxe samples to try out the full suite.
For That Cozy Feeling
Conjure up that holiday feeling with this scented fir tree candle, which people swear smells just like the real thing.
Weighted blankets are all the rage. But they’re also expensive. Finally, Target came out with a more reasonably-priced version.
Ever since I saw the main character in Phantom Thread wearing velvet slippers, I’ve been obsessed.
For a more budget-friendly version these Patricia Green velvet slippers are half off, so now $30.
To Brighten Up the Home on the Daily
No one likes to floss, but they might be happier doing it when they see this guy in the bathroom.
These artful bud vases will add an organic feel to any room.
Candles can be hard for people to justify buying. I mean, they literally melt away. But the game changes when they come in cute packaging that can be reused.
Shopping in the off-season is one of the best ways to get a deal. There are a few graphic print Pendleton beach towels on sale now, so they don’t have to panic-shop later.
I’m a sucker for anything that’s multi-purpose. These candles double as sculptures. You can buy them individually, but I think they look best as a clustered trio. They also melt inwardly, so no drippy mess!
For the Globe Trotter
Sure you can get packing cubes anywhere, but for design-minded traveler, these are the nicest-looking ones I’ve seen. For extra credit you can pay a little more for monogramming. Make sure to sign up for a new account for 10% off.
I wish I knew this existed when I bought my tripod. But I didn’t, and now I want to ditch my current tripod. The moldable tripod legs make this super flexible and seem really fun to play with.
For the world traveler who has a long bucket list, this scratch-off map can be a fun way to track their progress and serve as a customized decoration.
On the last flight I was on, there were at least three identical Away carry-ons in the overhead compartments. Gift someone the security of knowing that no one will accidentally take their suitcase.
The Can’t-Go-Wrong Consumables (aka for Minimalists)
If they can’t get to Paris, you can bring a little bit of Paris to them.
Japanese Kit Kats are fun for anyone who loves Asian snacks and adventurous flavors.
For the tea drinker in your life, fancier teas in an advent calendar are a fantastic holiday gift. This is sold out at a lot of retailers, so clearly this one’s a popular choice!
People might expect a gift certificate to their favorite ice cream shop, but not ice cream delivered right to their doorstep.
Thoughtful, Yet Unexpected Paper Goods
Available for every US state, the description of these notebooks says it all: “Grab a 3-Pack for where you live, where you used to live or where you want to live.” An affordable way to be a touch more thoughtful than your standard stationery.
This aesthetically-pleasing calendar is perfect for families who have a lot going on.
A very sweet blast from the past. Choose your own pictures to create a personal reel, which is then viewed through the beloved 80’s gadget. Gifting someone your favorite memories? Priceless.
Bound in a book format, this growth chart can be actually be passed down to future generations.
For the Mindful Consumer
Gifting wearables is a risk, but when I came across this brand on Instagram I had to take another look. Jewels & Aces earrings are made from recycled precious metals and lab-created gems, and their capsule collection is genius. Just like a capsule closet, many of the earrings can be mixed and matched to create individual looks, which is such a thoughtful approach.
For anyone who wants to be nicer to the environment, this lunch kit can be a good place to start.
Shopping secondhand is one of my favorite ways to shop sustainably. This barely-used leather pouch is also a higher-quality version of many other options out there that cost the same brand new.
For the Person Who Has Everything
And just because it’s fun, here are my splurge-worthy picks.
Candles are always a safe bet, but they’ll never expect one that comes with a carousel. The carousel attachment sits on top of the candle and is powered by the heat from the flame. Magical! The $60 single candle set is sadly sold out.
The Liberty of London advent calendar was a top pick, but sold out quickly. Advent calendar gifts are immensely fun to open, and this Space NK one is one of the better well-edited options. Some standout inclusions: Eve Lom cleanser, ILIA Tinted Lip Conditioner in Arabian Nights, and Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil.
For the dapper folks when a $5 umbrella just won’t do.
Rimowa often tops lists as the most coveted luggage, but I think the Tumi material is way less prone to scratches, and stands a better chance for looking newer longer. I mean, it’s the same material they use in the military.
I just bought another version of these bath towels for everyone in the house, and I can’t wait to try them out.
Here is last year’s gift guide, in case you’re curious.
Help your fellow readers out! What are your favorite gifts to give or receive this year?
Feature Image: The Luxe Strategist