An Intriguing Peek at the History of the Art of Gifting
Gift giving is by no means a human ‘invention’ or ‘discovery’. Cats often bring dying or dead prey and drop it at their owners’ feet in order to ‘teach them’ how to hunt, as they’d do with their own young. Our Darwinian antecedents on this planet – specifically, male chimpanzees – are known to give gifts of food to their female counterparts in an effort to impress them. Bonobos, another group of huggable primates, even give gifts to strangers just to expand their social network!
Several such animals that are far up the evolutionary ladder and have been around for hundreds of thousands of years longer than Homo sapiens engage in the art of gift-giving.
So what about humans?
Ancient cultures are full of stories of gifts given for the sake of friendship, hospitality, and even the resolution of enmity. Greek lore shows us the importance of ‘Xenia’ or ‘guest-friendship’, which we loosely translate as hospitality. In Native-American culture, the ‘potlatch’ represents a very important tradition. Burnt offerings are sometimes regarded as a form of gifting to God, either in a spirit of gratitude or one of penitence.
Today, gift-giving is found in nearly every culture and country around the world and is not just reserved for holidays and other special occasions. It also lives on as one of the most popular ways of expressing gratitude, showing someone they’re special, or making somebody feel good about themselves. Additionally, it works very well when used as a means of appreciation, admiration, or a way to provide financial support. It can also be ritualistic, as in the tradition of getting Christmas presents from Santa if you've been good that year.
At the receiving end are other powerful psychological forces at play. The art of receiving a gift is as important to be aware of as the art of giving a gift. Just as an ill-conceived gift can cause anger and pain, an ill-received gift causes resentment and hate that may last for years. When it comes to the art of gifting, we are expected to be thoughtful in our giving and grateful in our receiving.
We’ve sifted through hundreds of resources to find out what people typically gift across multiple geographies, religions, cultures, and events. We found some interesting trends. For instance, people gravitate toward certain categories based on the type of occasion, their own demographic, the popularity of the gift type, trending products, etc.
From this, we learned that every gift serves a purpose – or, at least, it should. If it serves that purpose, then the giver, as well as the receiver, are fulfilled and ready to start the cycle all over again. And that’s all it is – an endless cycle of energy exchange in the form of giving and receiving that is self-perpetuating.
That brings us to the meat and potatoes of this article – the Top 100 Gift Ideas of All Time. And we don’t make that claim lightly. In addition to listing out these 100 gift ideas, we’ll also tell you the significance of each one so you can match it to its purpose. That’s the way to master the art of gifting.
Top 100 Gift Ideas for Any Occasion, Festival, or Special Day
#1: Warm Weather Gear – Although we said that Christmas gifts tend to focus on fun, that’s only when it comes to the younger generation. Older adults tend to focus on functionality, and what better to gift a person in cold weather than something to keep some part of their body warm? That’s why sweaters, jackets, caps, gloves, socks, leg warmers, thermal wear, and other items of cold-weather clothing are so popular during Christmas.
#2: Toys and Games – For younger receivers, toys and games are the highlights of opening presents on Christmas morning. They’ve worked hard through the year trying to be ‘nice’, they’ve made elaborate lists in their letters to Santa, and they’re looking for payday! Most parents indulge their children by using these letters as shopping gifts, giving rise to iconic sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
#3: Smartphones – Some of the most gifted items at Christmas are smartphones. Everyone needs a new phone at some point in the life of their old one, and a smartphone is a great way to show someone that you value them. It might seem crass to give a really expensive gift but that’s exactly what makes the receiver feel so special.
#4: Apparel and Accessories – Giving someone a gift that you expect them to wear on their person has a very personal touch to it. A boy giving a girl a pretty hairband, for instance, is filled with all sorts of messaging such as ‘I like you’, ‘I want you to look good’, ‘I care about you’, and so on. But not all apparel needs to send a message. Sometimes, it’s just about getting someone new clothes because they’ll like them.
#5: Tools – Garden tools, power tools, specialized tools… any tool, when given as a gift, indicates that the giver wants the receiver to see the practical value. There’s more to it than meets the eye. It expresses an appreciation or at least an acknowledgment of the receiver’s skills at gardening, repairs, DIY, or whatever the gift is intended to help with.
#6: Perfume – If someone gives you a perfume that they like but you don’t much care for, you should know that the giver is somewhat self-centered. It will invariably reflect in other areas of their life as well. On the other hand, if you receive a perfume that they know is a favorite of yours, you can be certain they value you as an individual with unique tastes and wants.
#7: Money. Cash. Moolah. – Unless the giver knows that you’re in a tight financial position and could use the cash, a gift of money basically says “Hey, I don’t care enough about you to make the effort to find out what you like, so go buy it yourself!” If it’s a gift of money from a person who knows you’re in dire financial straits, it shows that they’re empathetic to your struggle and want to ease some of the financial burdens on you. Otherwise, it’s like giving a kid a dollar just so he’ll go away and leave you alone. To be clear, money is a very thoughtful gift when given at the start of something new – like a wedding gift or a graduation gift- where the receiver is in a transitional period of their lives and is likely looking for some financial stability, if not outright assistance. It’s even effective in the form of the standard $5 and card Grandma sends every Christmas that the grandkids so look forward to!
#8: Gift Vouchers – This type of gift is best reserved for acquaintances and those of whom you know very little or don’t care too much about. It is often given by companies to their employees, from a boss to a subordinate, or from a company to its special customers who fulfill certain criteria. It’s a statement of sorts, sending you a clear message that you’re important to them but not that important. Again, as with money, it has to be seen in context. A blank gift voucher for anything on Amazon is highly impersonal, but a voucher for a free spa day for someone you know is stressed out can be very thoughtful.
#9: Books – Books make excellent personal and impersonal gifts depending on the book itself and the connection between giver and receiver. A biography of someone famous might be a great motivational gift when a mentor gifts it to her mentee; a diary or journal makes for a more personal touch when given by an older role model to a young person starting a new life journey like teenhood. The best thing about books is that most people appreciate a good book if it’s on a topic of interest even if you don’t know them from Adam, which makes it one of the most universal gifts of all.
#10: Home Appliances – Watch out. A blender for the wife could be construed as a sexist gift! Seriously, though, home appliances are a very important category of gifts. They’re great for housewarmings, weddings, graduation, and any type of occasion where the receiver is setting up home or moving to a new location. However, you need to exercise some thought and caution because, after all, there is such a thing as having too many food processors, juice blenders, or coffee makers! Try something unique like a gelato maker – or this Breakfast Station that has a griddle, a coffee maker, and a toaster in one!
#11: Chocolates and Candy – This is usually a very generic and ‘safe’ category of gifts that almost anyone will love – as long as they’re not diabetic. But chocolates and candies also have a special meaning and can be very personal gifts. Occasions like Easter, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day usually see a spike in chocolate purchases. Did you know that over 90 million pounds of candy and chocolates are purchased around the Halloween season? Sorry, Cupid, Valentine’s Day chocolate purchases only came in at around 60 million, says a Nielsen study from 2009. The beauty – and the hardest part – of candy is that everyone has their favorites. But even if you don’t know their favorite candy, you can go with something safe like a box of assorted candy or chocolates. If they don’t like it, someone around them certainly will!
#12: Furniture – Recliners, ottomans, the ever-popular futon-for-college, console tables, personal poufs… all of these make perfect gifts, whether they’re for an elegant living room or messy dorm room. Furniture has a special connotation because it’s usually gifted by close relatives. But it can also be used to good effect when you know how to do it right. For instance, if you have a friend that needs to stand all day at their job, getting them a comfortable wing chair with an ottoman says a great deal about how much you care for them. For that matter, the piece of furniture you intend to buy doesn’t need to be all that expensive. There are accessories that you can consider, such as cushions, couch protectors, and other furniture-related products that won’t cost you a pretty penny.
#13: Fashion Accessories – If you’re thinking of ties or diamond earrings at this point, there’s a lot more out there than you might guess. Of course, the most popular ones in this category are probably handbags, brooches, and such, but there’s a wide range of accessories for both men and women. Ideally, you’d choose this type of gift by color, style, material, design, and, of course, the price. You need to be a little careful with accessories because countless thoughtless gifts end up sitting in on a closet shelf somewhere gathering dust. Get as much information as you can about their likes and their preferences, think back to what they usually carry or use, look at social media photos to see what their favorite accessory styles might be… in short, a little bit of research goes a long way.
#14: Travel – The gift of travel is one of the most exciting gifts one can receive and, in many ways, give. The planning, the excitement of setting up an itinerary, and the thrill of springing the surprise on the receiver make it of as much value to the gifter as to the giftee. Travel gifts are more meaningful if there’s a story behind them. A gift of a honeymoon trip or a post-graduation trip to European destinations are both classics that have specific purposes. If you intend on giving the gift of travel, be sure it’s what the receiver would want the most. After all, the gift of travel is an expensive one so you want as much value for your money as possible.
#15: Personal Care Products – As the name might indicate, these products are of a personal nature. They can send the wrong message if you’re not careful. A deodorant sends the message that the receiver might have a BO problem; an anti-aging cream points to visibly growing older, and so on. That’s probably why they have gift sets that cover a range of products. They’re far less pointed and they give the receiver options. A beauty kit, a set of skincare regime products, or a gift set of men’s beauty products meet those criteria because they’re ambiguous yet targeted. In other words, they’re non-specific but they get the message across in a subtle way. You did have a message for the receiver, right? If you don’t, then maybe you should look for some other type of gift for them.
#16: Flowers – Another universal gift for any occasion. Flowers talk, so learn the language of flowers and you’ll be able to communicate any sentiment using their voice. There are flowers for practically every occasion. All you need is a ready reference chart.
#17: Greeting Cards – Again, a universal gift to make someone feel special. The added benefit is that there’s space to put some cash inside! Or, you can write a personal greeting, which is far more personal than what a Hallmark writer might say. The best part about greeting cards is that they work well in the virtual realm as well. There are tons of sites where you can design your own greeting cards and personalize them before sending them on their merry way. Cards are also used as accessories for the main gift, allowing you to send a special message along with that gift.
#18: Camping Gear – For the outdoors person, there’s not much that can match the allure of camping gear or accessories. This is a very broad category so make sure you know what they need before spending a pretty penny. Yes, they can be quite expensive but there are some very innovative products in this category of gifts. Or how about an instant multi-person, cabin-style tent?
#19: Smartwatches – There are several great brands of smartwatches today, ranging from Apple to Samsung, to FitBit to Garmin, all of which offer unique health and fitness features, trackers, monitors, and so on. Oh, and did we mention they tell time, too?
#20: Religious Gifts – Religious items have long been a favorite gifting category for festivals like Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, or Eid. Although their purpose is usually religious, they also lend themselves to enhancing the interior of any space, giving it a tranquil appeal. Some examples include crosses, menorahs, figurines, and even themed chocolate gift packs like a Ganesha-themed gift pack or a meditative Buddha chocolate hamper.
#21: Children’s Gifts – Kids are great receivers because almost anything makes them happy. But some gifts can leave them visibly disappointed as well, like those gaudy and ill-fitting knitted sweaters they’re forced to be paraded in because Grandma Lily (who, as you’ve guessed, knitted them) is coming for the family Christmas dinner! In general, though, this is the easiest gift to buy. Kids typically want the latest whatever that’s popular with other kids at their school, whether it’s gadgets, toys, or clothes. Depending on their age group, you can easily search the web or an e-commerce site to see what’s trending. Find the right gift and you’ll be their favorite – for a while, at least.
#22: Green Gifts – Nope, not cash. That’s already at #7. We’re talking about eco-friendly gifts for earth lovers and nature’s caretakers. Everyone does their bit, so these gifts are perfect for anyone you know who’s up-to-date on environmental problems – and does their part. Tree saplings are ideal, as are gifts made from 100% recycled materials. That actually gives you a broad selection to choose from because nearly every product company today makes items whose parts and materials are responsibly sourced and/or recycled. There are special sites for green gifts, such as Friends of the Earth, Traidcraft, Ethical Shop, The Wise House, and many more. All of them have e-commerce sites where you can purchase an item and have it delivered as a gift to someone. They’re great for the environment and you can feel just a little less guilty about driving that SUV you own!
#23: Computer Accessories – With the bulk of the world’s workforce now working from home for the foreseeable future, it’s a great idea to get some WFH accessories so they can work in comfort. You can choose affordable gifts like laptop stands, armrests, table lamps, blue light screen filters, etc., or more expensive items such as wireless accessories, desks, monitors, chairs, and so on. Amazon and other e-commerce sites have a ton of items in this category. Just go to one of the portals and search for “WFH accessories” or “computer peripherals”, etc. to help you zero in on the right product. One useful tip is to probably visit their workspace and home and surreptitiously see what they already have so you don’t duplicate. If that’s not possible, do your best to guess what items they might not already own. Or just ask them outright. It’s better to spoil the surprise than to find that they’ve already got three of what you bought them!
#24: Cookies and Cakes – A yum treat is never unwelcome, especially if it’s home-baked treats that they already love. If you have family members living away from you, this is a great idea. You can send them a care package with cookies and other homemade goodies so they get a taste of home. Now that travel has become a less-than-optimal choice for most people, this is the next best thing. Make sure you send foods that stay fresh and package them well so they’re airtight and will stay fresh for the journey and for a few days after. Dry foods are better because they tend to have longer shelf lives but it all depends on the packaging.
#25: Cocktail Mixes – A unique gift, for sure, but cocktail mixes are getting more popular by the day. Plenty of options to choose from in this category but be careful when picking unusual cocktails because not everyone enjoys them. The standards are always a safe choice but you can be a little adventurous as well, as long as you think the other person might enjoy them. Your Bloody Marys and your Margaritas are one thing, but a Diamonds are Forever cocktail set will blow their minds… if you have the money for it, that is.
#26: Baby Gifts – Of course, these are specific to couples or single parents with babies in tow, but it’s always a pleasure shopping for little ones. The options are virtually limitless, and they come in cute little gift packs that you can have shipped directly with gift wrapping from sellers on Amazon, Etsy, and other popular e-commerce sites. Be sure to only buy products that have been tested and have certifications of safety. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has several guidelines, and products must be third-party tested and certified. Check for these stamps and seals before buying anything. You don’t want to take a risk where anyone is concerned, and babies are at greater risk for obvious reasons. Another consideration is to buy age-appropriate gifts so they’re more likely to have the certification required for that age group.
#27: TV/Movie Franchise Merchandise – Everyone loves merch, right? Avenger coffee cups, Superman bed sheets, Iron Man t-shirts, etc. These are great gifts for teens and younger recipients but also for adults who still love comics, superheroes, and Green Lantern pajamas! You’ll find a ton of options online or at local stores, so rather than pick stuff at random, do a little research into what the person really likes. Believe us, the DC-Marvel battle rages on, with fervent fans on both sides. If there’s one nugget of advice you can take away from this, it is: Never get Superman merch for a Hulk aficionado!
#28: Garden Gifts – This category covers everything from gardening tools to garden gnomes to outdoor lighting fixtures to rock-scaping to garden furniture. There are gifts in every price range so definitely something for every budget. Smaller gifts include things like gardening stools, weeding kits, etc., while the more expensive ones cover furniture, landscaping, etc. Make your gift tasteful by choosing something that the receiver really needs or has been looking forward to. Simple garden gnomes can have a much more dramatic effect than lawn furniture, so don’t be under the impression that money makes the difference. It’s the care that goes into choosing the gift that does.
#29: Wines, Beers, and Spirits – Always a favorite with adults. Wines and spirits are easy to buy and you don’t really need to worry about the budget because you’ll find something to fit any budget size. Of course, the more expensive the brand, the better the gift will be received, but that’s not always the case. Even a six-pack of an easily available beer will always be appreciated by most. That being said, do a little research into what the person might like. For instance, some people prefer sweeter wines as opposed to dry wines. Alternatively, you might be gifting vodka to a whiskey aficionado so definitely watch out for those types of situations. Other than that, you pretty much have the run of myriad spirits, wines, and beers to choose from. You can also have these delivered when you shop online, which makes it a little more convenient – if a tad impersonal.
#30: Smart Home Products – People’s homes are getting smarter by the day, and you’re not likely to find a home without an Amazon Echo, one of its variants, or some sort of smart speaker. To complement that, you can consider an Alexa-enabled product like a smart plug or smart light bulb. It goes all the way up the price range, naturally, but there are tons of options to choose from, such as smart LED kits, smart locks for doors, smart thermostats, smart home security products, smart soundbars, and even Alexa-compatible smart OLED TVs. For the tech-savvy receiver, any of these items will make a great gift idea for Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions.
#31: Health-related Products – A foot spa, a mani-pedi set, a home blood sugar monitor, or even an aromatherapy bubble bath kit. These gifts are thoughtful and aimed at good health so you can hardly go wrong with them. Some products are very specific so choose carefully, but when you hit the sweet spot, it can make for a very meaningful gift. You don’t have to restrict yourself to gift items, either. A gift voucher to a day spa can be equally welcoming for a person who’s stressed out because of their job. Throw in a free babysitting session for that single working mom and you’ve found yourself the perfect gift she’ll thank you for over and over again. That kind of giving embodies the real essence of gift-giving.
#32: Art – A print of a famous work of art can work magic if you take the trouble of having it framed – or order it with a frame. A genuine work of art is also an option, of course, but it’s obviously going to be a lot more expensive. But if it’s within your budget for that person, by all means, go ahead and splurge. You can also consider buying sculptures or figurines that they can place around the house or in their garden. Another idea is to get your kids to hand-paint a picture – to their grandparents, that represents a far more valuable gift than a genuine oil painting by a well-known contemporary artist.
#33: Pets – An intriguing class of gifts because, for all practical purposes, it works for anyone who loves animals. Always keep in mind, though, that a gift of a pet might not always be a welcome one. A pet requires caring for, feeding, grooming, companionship, and so on. And there are hygiene aspects to consider, as well as building codes and other restrictions. If you’re getting one for your own kids, though, a hamster is a good start. Or fish in a tank. These are relatively easy to take care of and they’ll teach your child how to care for another living creature, setting them up for similar responsibilities as they grow up to be responsible adults. It also teaches them to be respectful of animals and to be kind to them. These are values that should be taught early on. A dog is great but it might not be the best choice for a first pet or for a child that’s too small to take care of one.
#34: Animal-themed Gifts – If you can’t get them a pet, this is the next best thing. Animal lovers are always thrilled to receive any gift that has an animal motif. How about a giraffe table lamp or a hippo ashtray reminiscent of the 1980s? Animal-themed gifts are available practically everywhere you go, so try to find something unique that clearly shows you took the effort of hunting high and low for that perfect animal gift.
#35: Collector’s Items – Collectibles come in all forms and shapes. You can choose a culture-themed gift like a set of African carved figurines, or you can go with a more classy look like ceramic plates and expensive stoneware. You can even consider rare comic books or first-edition prints of classic books. Some of these can be very expensive but you can definitely find something you like in the $100 range. Local antique stores have tons of collectibles that nobody wants, but if you know someone who’s trying to finish a set or find a pair for something they already have, you may just find the perfect gift you’ve been meaning to give them. You’ll find collectibles across diverse categories like cars, stamps, tableware, jewelry, art, figurines, and much more.
#36: Sports Memorabilia – Does the receiver love a particular sports team? How about buying a set of memorabilia items across multiple decades of that team’s existence? They can also be functional, like a Detroit Lions Accent Helmet Lamp. Items in this gift category need neither be expensive nor one-of-a-kind. Anything that showcases their favorite sports teams will work.
#37: Festival Decorations – You can consider buying Christmas decorations or lights for a festive look any time of year. Every religion has symbolic items that are available online, but it’s important to know the significance of religious items, especially when gifting them. The same goes for cultural gift items as well. For instance, you can never gift leather items to a Hindu person because cows (from whose hide leather is made) are sacred in Hinduism. In many other countries, it’s bad luck to give someone an empty wallet. You need to put a currency bill or a coin before gifting it. Did you know that in some countries like Germany and Egypt, it’s bad luck to gift a knife or a knife set? Interestingly, you can counter this by taping a coin to the knife. The receiver then gives the coin back to you as payment for the knife, completing the cycle and negating any bad energy.
#38: Interior Decor Gifts – Lamps, console tables, wall hangings, mantelpieces, etc. make great gifts for people who love beautifying their homes. You’ll have no trouble finding a great gift in this category but be aware of certain aspects such as colors, styles, periods, and so on. Some amateur interior designers are very picky when it comes to new items matching what they already have. The last thing you want is for your gift to gather dust on some dark closet shelf because it didn’t ‘fit’ into their current design theme. It’s a good idea to visit their personal space to see what might be missing – and then be the fairy godmother that gives them exactly what they’ve been looking for!
#39: Gaming Consoles – Gaming consoles are usually considered ideal gifts for teens, but you’d be surprised by how many adults would appreciate an Xbox or a PlayStation with as much enthusiasm as a giddy 14-year-old! Or, if they already have the main hardware, you can think of buying them wireless accessories or even a bigger TV with which to engage in their favorite MMORPGs.
#40: Fine Linen – Linen comes in many forms, and the finest of these make perfect gifts whether it’s a housewarming or some other special occasion. There are different types of linen that come from various parts of the world, but the most exquisite of these are typically from European countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Damask Linen is probably the best example but it’s quite expensive because of the intricacy of the work involved in weaving it. However, it’s worth the money because of how beautiful it looks. Coarser types of weaves are also available, such as sheeting linen, plain-woven, and loosely-woven. They’re more affordable, but they’re very useful around the house, especially for wiping and cleaning. A set of these won’t set you back that much but they’ll be much appreciated.
#41: Backyard BBQ Stuff – A grill set is perfect for anyone who regularly hosts cookouts in their backyard. The choices are practically endless, so be prepared with at least a few criteria you expect them to satisfy, such as size, type of fuel, portability, etc. On the other hand, if they already have a relatively new grill set that doesn’t need replacing, you can consider buying grilling essentials such as attachable lighting, a grilling apron, a new set of skewers, a meat thermometer, or even a pair of shredder claws for pulled pork.
Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels
#42: Party Supplies – Not many people are throwing parties this year, obviously, but party supplies are always a safe bet when it comes to gifting. People often hunt around their attics at the last minute looking for hats, paper plates, and such. Getting them a full set for a particular kind of party like a birthday or an anniversary will definitely be appreciated. The only kind of people you don’t want to buy this sort of gift for are those who hate throwing parties and have no use for party supplies!
#43: Vegan Meal Kits or Recipe Books – It’s hard to go grocery shopping when you’re vegan, and it’s even harder to find the right recipes. If you know a vegan, this is the perfect culinary gift for them. A good recipe book or a meal kit won’t cost you too much but it will hit the nail on the head as far as being appropriate is concerned. They will consider it a very thoughtful gift, especially if you’re not a vegan yourself.
#44: Exotic Coffee Blends – Whether it’s just beans or a processed coffee blend, exotic coffees are all the rage. There are some very affordable gift packs with various types of coffee from around the world, and there are even custom-made blends that you can try out if your budget allows for it. Coffee lovers often like to try new variations in their search for that perfect brew, and it might just be you who introduces them to it.
#45: Bar Kits – A new bar kit is a great gift idea for any festival, special occasion, or event. The options here are endless so you’ll need to do a little bit of searching to find something unique. The good thing is that they cover a wide range of price points so there’s something for every budget. You can even consider a set of specialty glasses like wine goblets or shot glasses to complement their current collection. Crystal, of course, can be expensive but if you have the budget for something like that, then why not?
#46: Kosher Gift Baskets – There are some terrific Kosher gift ideas like tea chests, mini Boston coffee cakes, crumb cake trays, pretzels, coffee, wine, beef sausages, etc. that you can find on specialty websites online. These are ideal for Hanukkah, Passover, and other Jewish holidays. Your Jewish friends will really appreciate the fact that your gift was carefully considered rather than bought at the last minute and hastily wrapped on the go.
#47: Handmade Jewelry – Handmade jewelry has been popular for a long time but is now more accessible than ever after the advent of the Internet. This is different from hand-crafted precious jewelry, which is quite expensive. Handmade jewelry is a lot more affordable because it doesn’t necessarily contain precious metals or stones, although you may find some pieces that do. Mostly, they’re made of eco-friendly or recycled materials, and they can help you make quite a creative fashion statement.
#48: Medical Aid Products – For someone who really needs it, medical aids are invaluable. The expenses on these are usually endless because some of them need frequent replacing. If you have the budget or the receiver is really close to you, you’ll find it worth spending money on things like hearing aids and other medical aid products. The one thing you can be sure about is that such a gift holds far more value to the receiver than what you paid for it. But even if you don’t have a lavish budget, you can still look at gifts like compression socks, massage therapy products, reacher/grabber tools for the elderly, and so on for less than $30.
#49: Personalized Jewelry – Name jewelry can be a lot of fun to shop for, and to wear. Lots of people love having their names crafted on exquisite accessories like pendants, earrings, bracelets, etc. It’s relatively inexpensive unless you’re choosing gold or platinum, and it’s easy to find a website that can customize a piece for you and have it shipped to an address of your choosing. One thing to be aware of, though, is that some jewelry is intended to bring good luck or ward off ‘the evil eye’; not everything believes in these superstitions, so make sure the person you’re gifting it to is aware of that aspect of the gift. Most people won’t mind but there are some who may take offense.
#50: Desktops and Laptops – These obviously fall in the high-price category of gifts, but did you know that these are some of the most popular gifts for major holidays and special personal occasions? Laptops make great graduation gifts, desktops are great for gamers and students alike, convertible tablets are perfect for anyone constantly on the move, etc. It’s always useful to know the level and type of usage before you buy an expensive piece of equipment like this because not all specs suit every usage type. Students, for example, might only browse and check their emails, so a low-spec system will suffice. Gamers will need something far more powerful in terms of processing speed. Designers might need the kind of display that only Apple can deliver. Knowing such requirements will also help you narrow down the budget and the choices. It’s probably a good idea to walk into a store and get help from an associate if you have no idea what to buy. Alternatively, you can use the live chat option on an e-commerce website for a brief consultation on the best product for you.
#51: Friendship Lamps – Friendship lamps are also called long-distance lamps, relationship lamps, friend lamps, and other names. The basic concept is that a pair of lamps (or more) are set up in different locations and then connected to each other via the Internet using their respective local Wi-Fi networks. Part of the setup process involves choosing a specific color for each lamp. Once they’re set up this way, if one lamp is tapped on the sensor plate at the top, the other (or others) will all light up instantly in the color associated with that first lamp. They’re essentially stylish-looking table lamps with multiple color options and Wi-Fi connectivity. They don’t cost the earth but they will mean the world to the other person because you can send an instantaneous message that you’re thinking about them at the very moment you touch your lamp. It’s an innovative way to communicate instantly and it works great for long-distance couples, grandparents you live away from, siblings separated by distance because of work and other commitments, best friends living in different countries, and so on. You can purchase Friendship Lamps here or learn more about how they work here. These links open in new tabs so you can keep reading.
#52: Puzzles – One of the most ageless gifts is the humble mind-bending puzzle. It comes in a variety of forms, it’s affordable, and it makes a perfect gift for anyone with an inquisitive mind. For you, the puzzle is to find out what kinds of puzzles the receiver of the puzzle might enjoy! There are word puzzles, hands-on puzzles, relational puzzles, trivia puzzles, riddles, crosswords, physical puzzles, and many such categories. Just head over to Google and search for the specific type of puzzle you’re looking for and you’ll see dozens of online options pop up on your screen. This kind of gift is very ‘neutral’ in that it doesn’t necessarily send any special message or hold a deeper meaning. It’s just for fun. However, some puzzles can be therapeutic as well. For instance, basic shape and block puzzles are known to be beneficial for children with autism. Similarly, jigsaw puzzles and Rubik’s cubes are great for those with attention deficit disorder or ADD. In general, though, all puzzles help strengthen or develop the brain in ways that we still don’t understand, which is what makes them the perfect gift for practically anyone.
#53: Hobby Sets – Train sets are great for hobbyists, as are a number of gift options related to various hobbies. These are different from the collectibles we talked about earlier because they’re more hands-on. The receiver actually gets to engage with them in an active manner. As such, it’s great for someone who is under a lot of stress and needs to ‘get away from it’ once in a while. That’s why it includes such a huge range of options, from mini-golf to furniture restoration to home development projects and a whole lot more.
#54: Investments – Gifting an investment to someone early in life gives them a head start. Not everyone has the money to set up a trust fund for their kids, but teaching your child the value of investing so their money works for them is an invaluable lesson that they can carry with them throughout their lives. Anyone can do this. Give someone you love their first bonds or stocks in your favorite company – but in their name – and it may well inspire them to start their journey. Who knows how it will shape their lives, but it will most likely be for the better because it will show them the value of investing in something that will appreciate in value over time. This is a crucial less every parent must teach their children at the earliest possible opportunity. They might not appreciate the true value of that gift right away but, someday, they will most certainly realize that the gift was worth much more than the money they made off the investment itself.
#55: Occupational Gifts – It’s actually not that hard to buy a gift when it’s related to a particular profession or occupation. Doctors, engineers, architects, accountants… all of them have specific tools-of-trade that can form the basis of a very memorable gift. Do you know an aging war veteran? How about a walking stick with a custom Veterans of War knob that proudly declares their service to their country?
#56: Giant Stuffed Animals – Stuffed toys aren’t just for kids. Lots of adults love to have a huge teddy or really tall giraffe gracing their bedrooms and personal spaces. They’re relatively inexpensive and almost nobody can say no to an adorable giant panda living in their home. It’s a unique gift idea for someone convalescing after a stint at the hospital or just about any occasion you can think of. Of course, the kids will absolutely love them to bits. Be sure you buy quality toys that are certified child-safe, especially if they’re for smaller kids. And have fun shopping around for the right type of animal. See if you can find out their favorite one and get that for them. That makes the experience even more memorable.
#57: Gambling-themed Paraphernalia – Do you know someone who frequents Atlantic City or Las Vegas, or just loves online sports betting? There are several types of themed gifts you can consider for them, such as casino-themed watches, silver charm bracelets with dice, chips, etc. as danglers, or even a nice poker set in a wooden case they can carry around when they travel.
#58: Sleepwear – A pair of pajamas? Make it more fun for kids by choosing something with a favorite cartoon character printed on it or something else they love. For adults, you can go with something that’s comfortable yet inexpensive. Pottery Barn has a wide range of more premium nightwear but you can find cheaper options if you’re willing to put in some legwork and look around. There’s really no special advice needed here. Go with your gut feeling on what color they might like or just pick something neutral in light or dark shades. If you have the budget for it, you can buy monogrammed nightwear. Always appreciated and always makes them feel extra-special.
#59: Magazine Subscriptions – Everyone has a favorite magazine based on a passion or profession. Some like fashion while others like lifestyle or business. You can even get a subscription to a trade journal or something very specific if you know what they’d want. There are journals and specialty magazines for nearly every profession, hobby, and passion you can think of. If you don’t want to go to all the trouble of searching for the right one, just get them a Time or National Geographic subscription. You can even subscribe to a digital version if you think printed magazines are bad for the environment or if you prefer to give them the convenience of reading online.
#60: Sporting Gear – People love sports. Those who don’t at least love to watch or have a favorite team. Find out what that is and get them some sports paraphernalia that matches their passion. For those who play, you can think about sporting gear – baseball bats, basketballs, hoop sets, golf clubs, tennis rackets, and so on. For sports fans, consider pennants, foam fingers, and even posters of their favorite players. Get creative and put two or three gifts together in a hamper to make a real impact. Speaking of hampers…
#61: Gag Gift Hampers – This one’s pure fun and no function. But who cares about function when you’re having a blast, right? Pack a hamper full of gag gifts and watch their eyes when they open it. Everyone becomes a kid once again when they get something like this. If you’re not going to be there to see them open the gift, ask someone else to take a video so you can enjoy their reaction! There are plenty of affordable things you can put in there, such as donut seeds (!!), a toilet mini-golf putting kit (see below), fake human organs, fart plugs, and about a million other things.
#62: Show/Movie Tickets – Of course, now might not be the best time for this type of gift. But when the air clears, metaphorically and literally speaking, movie theaters, concerts, theater, and live shows are going to be popular again. When they are, you can consider giving someone a few hours of entertainment as a gift. Throw in a meal at a fancy restaurant and they can make a whole night of it.
#63: Experiential Gifts – Gifting someone you love a lunch cruise, dance lessons, flying lessons, a whale-watching day trip, or a wine-tasting holiday can be a life-changing experience for the receiver. How many times have you heard someone say they fish because their grandfather took them on a fishing trip once when they were a kid? Or an airline pilot who started loving to fly after just one lesson early in their life?
#64: Hire a Party Limo – Throwing your best friend a limo party is a real classy way to show your appreciation for their friendship all these years. Get a bunch of your other friends to pool in and make a real night of it. A party limo can be decked out with everything you need – decorations, booze, food, entertainment… everything you need for a perfect night out with friends and to make someone very, very happy.
#65: Make a Personal Video Montage – There’s an emerging trend of making social-media-style videos to play for someone on their birthday or some other special occasion. It’s a great idea and doesn’t cost you anything. Gifts like these have high emotional value. All you need is a script or an outline of what you’re going to say. To make it even better, get a few others to add their own contributions and stitch it into a single video. There are lots of free video editors and smartphone apps that can create a video slideshow from a selection of video clips, and you can add royalty-free background music to really make it pop, too.
#66: Office Stress Busters – Squeezable stress relievers, balancing blocks, wind-up toys, mini basketball hoops, tabletop football sets, fidget spinners, golf putting mats, lava lamps… the list goes on and on. These stressbusters have real value when you’re at work, whether that’s in a proper office or your own home office. They’re called stressbusters because they do actually work to reduce stress. It doesn’t have to be a physical gift, either. Even taking a 10-minute walk every day can reduce stress levels. But, since you can’t gift someone a 10-minute walk, get them something of practical value.
#67: Patio and Porch Accessories – Porch and patio accessories come in all varieties. You can choose from a wide range of wind chimes, outdoor clocks, wall hangings, welcome signs, flag bunting, name plaques, ornate door knockers, address plaques, planters, statuettes, or even wall thermometers and barometers. They also come in a variety of price points ranging from under $20 to over $100 and more.
#68: Pool Accessories – Nobody ever has enough floaties and pool noodles, especially if they frequently throw pool parties. A pool fountain would be awesome, and it costs less than $30. Accessory hangers for the poolside changing room can be quite useful as well. Or, how about a Bluetooth waterproof floating pool speaker with cupholders? It could end up being the life of the party!
#69: Exotic Gifts – If you’re looking for something really special, you can consider country-specific gifts. If the receiver has a history of travel, that makes it easier to find gifts from the places they’ve visited. As a matter of fact, it can even be a gift from a U.S. state they visited. Getting them a gift from that city or country can help them relive warm memories of their trip. In a way, it would be a truly high-value gift, the value of which would be independent of what you spent buying it.
#70: Home Remedy Kits – If you know someone who’s suffering from a chronic malady that modern medicine can’t help with, you can consider some tried-and-true natural remedies from ages gone by. This includes aromatherapy products, copper cuff bracelets, black soap, organic argan oil, natural gel washes, herbal neck pillows, and lots of other options. There are specialty stores for this type of gift, both online and brick-and-mortar versions. You can get them on most e-commerce sites but specialty stores can usually source their products from genuine manufacturers rather than resellers.
#71: Dried or Preserved Flowers and Bouquets – There are several variants in this category and they allow the receiver to enjoy a colorful addition to their living space for a long time, unlike freshly-picked flowers and bouquets. There are also wreaths, as potpourri, and other versions of dried or preserved flowers. They’re relatively inexpensive but there are also pricier options if you add a vase to go with the flowers.
#72: Yoga Gifts – If the receiver of the gift is a fan of yoga or meditation, you can get them a new yoga mat, a personalized water bottle, a bolster pillow, a yoga wheel, chakra stones, yoga socks, a restorative bath soak, or a tote bag. There are plenty of other options if you’re willing to look around, and don’t worry about your budget because there’s something at every price point from $10 to $100 or more.
#73: Spices Set – There are some really great deals online for spice racks and spice towers. There’s even one that’s expressly for gifting that includes free spice refills for 5 years! There are also specialty kits like grilling spice sets and hot sauce making kits to choose from. Prices start at well under $20 and go all the way up to about $200, so it’ll fit nearly any budget.
#74: Dieting Gifts – Not sure what to get someone who’s just gone on a diet? If a weighing scale is “too soon”, how about something else to help them reach their weight goal? There are options like diet books, portion bowls, healthy snacks, and several other diet-based products to choose from. One thing to remember is to not get them anything that might make them deviate from a specific diet, such as diet pills or anything remotely medical. The body often undergoes severe changes during a diet, and you don’t want to give them anything that might upset that delicate balance in any way. Stick with accessories and “safe” foods that won’t conflict with the diet.
#75: Musical Instruments – Musical instruments are as much fun to give as they are to receive. If you’re gifting a musician, though, you have to invest a little time to find out what they need. A sax player, for example, might appreciate a set of new reeds but only if they’re of the exact kind they use. The same thing goes for guitar strings, etc. But that’s only for accessories. If you’re thinking about a musical instrument for someone who is a music enthusiast but not a professional, you can opt for something simple like a harmonica or even an acoustic guitar. Don’t jump into something complex right away, like a violin. On the other hand, a keyboard is a great starting instrument for every budding musician because it helps teach them the basic structure of octaves, chords, scales, etc.
#76: Senior Living Products – Something creative like an ornate wood-handled magnifying glass can be functional as well as chic. But you don’t have to get creative with this kind of gift. As long as it serves the purpose, it’s okay. Some great ideas include walking canes, back massage pillows, armchair caddies, thermal innerwear, jar openers, Large-display digital alarm clocks, pain relief neck wraps, large-print word puzzles, etc.
#77: Aqua-themed Gifts – Freshwater or salt-of-the-sea, water-based gifts are fun to buy. You’ll find tons of inflatable pools, snorkeling sets, Captain hats, and even nautical-themed wind chimes. You can also consider beach towels and umbrellas, nautical telescopes, beach cup holders, Hawaiian flip flops, beach picnic hampers
#78: Cheese – Cheese deserves a category of its own. Most people know their Goudas and their Camemberts, but did you know there are more than 1,800 types of cheeses in the world? Yup, at the risk of sounding… well, cheesy… it’s a cheesy world out there. Aside from the usual cow and goat cheeses, there are cheeses made from buffaloes, sheep, and even combinations thereof. Cheeses are grouped by country, flavor, texture, age, and even the method of preparation. You can find several cheese gift baskets online and even choose what to put in them. They also come in combo gift packs or baskets along with wine, fruit, and other things that go with cheese. Get one for someone you love and they’ll be grateful you introduced them to the wonderful world of cheese. Unless they’re lactose-intolerant, that is!
#79: Snow Globes – Snow globes are very unique gifts that go well with almost any type of interior decor. You can get a quality snow globe for as little as $30 or you can go well into triple-digits with your budget. The more expensive ones have ornately designed bases and motifs inside the globe. There’s also a variation called a ‘glitter dome’ that uses colorful glitter instead of faux snow. Snow Globes are forever keepsakes and can be passed on as family heirlooms that carry a rich history of memories… speaking of which…
#80: Music Boxes – You normally wouldn’t find that many manufacturers of music boxes but they’re making a massive comeback. The best ones are those that mimic older designs, with manual cranks or keys and a complex maze of springs and gears inside. Surprisingly, they’re not very expensive unless you opt for hardwood boxes with intricate metal inlays and expensive parts. At the higher end, you’ll find pieces studded with jewels or made of pure silver or gold, but you don’t need to spend a pretty penny to find the right gift for someone special.
#81: Fine Crystal – Crystal displays are often expensive, but when they’re placed in the right spot and catch the right light, there’s little else that compares to their magnificence and brilliance. If you don’t have the budget for a set, don’t worry. There are plenty of individual pieces you can choose from, such as figurines, nut bowls, small flower vases, etc. The idea is to find something with a theme that matches what the receiver of the gift might like, such as a leaping dolphin figurine for a marine biologist, and so on.
#82: Couples Gifts – For couples, the his-and-hers category of gifts is ever-popular. But if you want to take a different route and still buy themed gifts, why not consider buying something both of them will use, like an ice-cream maker or waffle iron? At the upper end of the price range, you can look at monogrammed bed or table linen, embossed crockery, and so on. An ideal gift would be to book a cruise for two once the pandemic passes, but you may have to wait several months for things to come back to normal again. On the other hand, if they both like cooking, consider kitchen appliances or an engraved kitchen knife set – also perfect for chef couples. The options are practically endless if you’re willing to take the time to shop around on several sites or in-store.
#83: Indoor Plants – Many varieties of indoor plants are suitable because they require very little care and help with air purification in a small way. If you know someone who spends a lot of time indoors, like an elderly relative or someone who doesn’t go out much, a house plant might be the perfect ‘green gift’ for any special occasion. Indoor plants also make great companions for people living alone. The one thing to be aware of is that all of them require some sort of care, so if the person travels a lot or is rarely home, house plants might not be a great idea for them. For such cases, you can consider the preserved flowers mentioned in #71 above.
#84: First Aid Kits – A practical and handy gift for anyone, first aid kits in most homes are old and untended, which means they may have medicines that are past their expiration dates. Getting someone a fresh first aid kit tells them you care about their health and well-being. For someone who travels a lot, you can get a travel first aid kit, which is smaller but contains all the essentials in case of an emergency.
#85: AAA Membership – If you care about your loved ones and they’re frequently doing long road trips, make sure they have an active AAA membership. Encourage first-time drivers by getting them started with their first year of membership to AAA. A classic membership only costs about $38 – $74 a year, is cheaper for additional members in your family, and is well worth the money. Anyone who’s ever been stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire, a dead battery, or an empty tank will attest to that.
#86: Fair-trade Products – Fair-trade products are intended to equalize the disparity between developed and developing nations by offering transparency right through the supply chain. The system itself attempts to eliminate – or at least minimize – unfair trade practices that have led to such disparity in the first place. There are several online marketplaces for fair trade products, and they’re a great way to get fairly priced handmade goods of the finest quality. Some of them are expensive but you can be confident that the makers of those goods are getting a fair share of the retail price no matter which country they live in.
#87: Music – With nearly every track ever put out by any musician now living online, it’s very convenient to give someone the gift of music. It can also be given in an analog form, such as a CD, or you can get them a subscription to an online streaming service like Spotify. If you know the kind of music they love, it’s even better. However, this is also an opportunity to introduce someone to a new genre of music that you think they might enjoy and get hooked on.
#88: Footwear – Shoes and other footwear products are great gifts as long as you know the right foot size or they can be exchanged for the right size. Footwear is a very personal thing, though, so only gift it to close family members and friends, or people you know well. Be aware of the latest fashions and trends in footwear, especially if you’re buying for women or for teens. Younger kids and men are generally more flexible where footwear is concerned, but for women and teens, it has to be fashionable, trendy, the right color, the right brand, and so on.
#89: Bonsai Trees – Most people think bonsai art is an expensive hobby. It can be, but it doesn’t have to. You can easily find a bonsai starter kit for under $100 or even below $50 on some websites. If you’re buying a seed kit, it’s even cheaper. Bonsai is great for cultivating patience and skill, and it will help them create something they can truly be proud of because there’s a sense of accomplishment that goes with tending to a bonsai tree.
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels
#90: Bamboo Tech Products – Lots of technology products use bamboo in their design these days. You’ll find speakers, keyboard and mouse combos, laptop cases, phone stands, and even wireless charge pads all made using bamboo components for the shell and outer parts. They look absolutely fabulous and they’re made from bamboo, which is a highly sustainable natural resource.
#91: e-Reader – An electronic reading tablet like an Amazon Kindle is perfect for that bookworm in your family who wouldn’t be caught dead without a book in their hand. But why carry one book when you can carry thousands, literally in the palm of your hand? The Kindle is one of the most commonly gifted items during special discount days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and for good reason – you can club it with an unlimited subscription to Amazon’s massive library of fiction and non-fiction titles. In general, e-readers are lightweight, versatile, travel-friendly, power-conservative, and extremely useful for students or anyone else who just loves reading. Of course, books undeniably retain that old-world charm but their electronic counterparts are really convenient when you don’t have the space to keep a large collection of physical books, when you’re traveling, and so on.
#92: Fresh Fruit – A nice fruit basket never hurt anyone. Unless it was thrown at them, of course. In general, though, fruits are loved by most people and there’s a sort of evergreen feel to gifting fruits. That’s probably because they are some of the oldest items to be given as gifts, dating back several centuries. At one point in time during the Middle Ages in Europe, fresh fruits in winter were exotic and expensive gifts. People would scrimp and save just to buy a few fresh fruits to give to someone suffering from Vitamin C deficiency, which was common in those times, or on special holidays. Today, you can find almost any fruit you want at the supermarket. Appreciate the times we live in and buy a basket of fresh fruits for someone in the knowledge that you carry the torch for a centuries-old gifting tradition.
#93: Preserved Meats – In case you’re wondering what to get the incurable foodie, cured hams, sausages, smoked bacon, etc. make excellent gifts. In fact, they’re perfect for anyone who loves gourmet food, and you can consider a gift set with a selection of meats and cheeses. However, before you go barging into their homes bearing gifts of meat and cheese, make sure they haven’t suddenly turned vegan over the weekend!
#94: Handmade Candles – Scented candles are wonderfully therapeutic and mood-setting gifts. If they’re handmade, that’s even better. Most people like to preserve these candles rather than use them, so don’t be surprised to see them unused on a shelf during your next visit. That doesn’t mean they didn’t appreciate them; it just means they think it’s too valuable to burn, that’s all.
#95: Keychains – These are inexpensive and the options are endless. There are keychains for nearly any profession, hobby, passion, zodiac sign, and personal quirk you can think of. They also come in different variations such as rings, chains, wallets, and so on. How about something like this key clip wallet for someone who tends to carry around a lot of keys all day?
#96: Caricatures – Yup, a cartoon drawing or rendering of someone in a form of a caricature can make an excellent gift as long as the receiver has a healthy sense of humor and the gift is given in good faith. There are sites where you can simply upload a photo of the person and order a caricature or even a realistic portrait of someone. It’s great value and it can be a lot of fun, too.
#97: Ship in a Bottle – Another classic gift if you don’t want to take the trouble of making one yourself is the ship in a bottle. These pieces are often painstakingly assembled by hand, which is why the genuine hand-made ones are quite expensive. But you can also find machine-made models for much less.
#98: Time Capsule – This is a special kind of gift that can be given between close friends or family members. Typically a time capsule will contain memorabilia that will remind you of good times and great relationships. Open them twenty years later and they’re like magical gifts from the past. You won’t know the feeling until you try it, and a good start would be to put together your first time-capsule for a person you care about.
#99: Nostalgic Gifts – This is a very relative kind of gift because each person has their own idea of nostalgia. For some, it’s something from their childhood or college days. For some, it’s something they were attached to when they were younger. For others, it was a period of time they lived through, like the 60s. If you know where that sweet spot is, by all means, hit it. A model Volkswagen camper bus might just do the trick. Or it might be a game of pick-up-sticks that helps them relive their childhood. It could even be a foosball table. Whatever it is, a nostalgic gift can be a very powerful way to show someone you care about them and their past.
#100: The Gift of Time, Friendship, and Companionship – The last gift we’re going to talk about is probably the most timeless and invaluable of all – the gift of time. Spending time with the ones you love is the best gift you can give them, especially if you haven’t been doing it for several years. Spend time at the old age home with your aging grandmother and it will be the more priceless gift she’s ever received. Stay overnight looking after a sick relative in the hospital and all the jewels in the world can’t replace that. Most of all, spending time with your spouse, your kids, your parents, grandparents, and grandkids is the most exquisite gift you’ll ever be able to give them. It is beyond value because it transcends the physical realm and approaches the spiritual. The best part is that it is often as beneficial to the giver as it is to the receiver.
And so, we leave you with some food for thought:
“The greatest gift you can ever give another person is your own happiness”
― Esther Hicks