11/26/2012

Let's Go Not Shopping!

Have you ever been walking down the stairs, and you slip and fall down a couple steps on your ass?  Then you whack your tailbone in just the right way that you knock the wind out of yourself and you can't breathe?  That's how I feel when I go shopping during the holiday season.  All the people all over the place, ugh.  I can't handle it.  It is doubly distressing because I enjoy going to the mall quite a bit, in an 80s mallrat kind of way.  I like going and chilling out and watching people, it's soothing.  Also, you can take a long walk in the AC.  Anyway, I just don't go to the mall during the holiday shopping season.  I just do all my shopping online, and even put some milage on my soap.com account so I don't even have to fuck around with people to get toilet paper.


I basically do 100% of my Christmas shopping online every year, and usually just do it in one fell swoop.  I don't fuck around.  I thought I would share some gift ideas with y'all, then if you have any compelling gift ideas, you can post them in the comments, yah?

Basically, my gifting philosophy is this--  don't really ask what people want, and just get them something they'd never buy themselves and that they probably didn't know they wanted in the first place.  I don't play that WELL, I HEARD WHAT'S-HIS-FACE NEEDS UNDERWEAR, I'LL JUST GET HIM UNDERWEAR.  Even if you need underwear, you don't want underwear for Christmas.

Let's do this!

DUDE GIFTS:  Maybe you have dudes on your list, like dads or boyfriends or something.  Buy them stuff they'd like.  When it comes to boyfriends and husbands, don't buy them clothes that you like and you'd like them to wear, they hate that.  You decided to hook up with some dude with no style, leave him alone.  You don't buy a station wagon and then spend all your time turning it into a sedan.  It's not gonna happen.  Put some shit in the wayback and just live with your choice, dig?  Anyway, here are my go-to ideas...

LIQUOR:  Guys like getting nice booze.  If you have a lot of money to spend, get him some Balvenie 21 or something.  If you don't have as much to spend, get him some Blanton's or Bulleit .  The Blanton's has a little horse on the stopper!!  Yeah!  Guys like manly booze, so they probably don't want Goose or whatever.  They like whiskey.  If you get him some Balvenie, and include a card that says you shaved off all your pubic hair, he will think it's the best Christmas ever.

HOODIES:  Every dude wears hoodies, and Christmas is in the winter, so they're cold.  The key to a Christmas hoodie is to get them a nice brand, so the hoodie is special.  Get him a North Face one, or a Penguin one, because they're warm and they are cut a little nicer, so they look good and stay decent forever.  Cheap hoodies always look cheap.

VIDEO GAMES:  Don't lie to yourself.  He wants video games.  

NOTE ON DAD GIFTS:  They never want anything.  Just get him a giftcard he can use to buy screwdrivers or whatever.  It is a good compromise between you wanting to get him a gift, and him not wanting anything.  Giftcards are like not giving anything, but nicer.

LADY GIFTS:  Some gift guides split gifts into girlfriend/mom/sister or whatever.  Basically, you just need to get her something nice.  Moms don't want gifts that make it seem like they are just moms, like appliances or household organizers or flannel nightgowns.  The only difference between a standard lady and a mom is that a mom has to deal with a whole lot more bullshit.  Just get her something nice, don't remind her that she is going to have to do all the dishes and vacuum after you leave.  Teenaged ladies like the same kind of nice stuff you'd get an adult lady, they even like that stuff more because it makes them feel sophisticated.  I usually don't buy clothes for ladies, because it is depressing to get clothes as a gift and they don't fit.

PERFUME:  Don't pretend you know what kind to get.  Sephora has these gift box things with a bunch of samples to sniff, and includes a certificate so they can go to Sephora and get whatever they want.  They get to like opening the present, then they can play around with samples, then they get to go to Sephora and get what they like.  It's a pretty decent deal, and they have different sample sets to pick from.  Nothing is worse than getting a fancy perfume as a gift and hating it, this is sucky perfume insurance.

A BAG:  You know what rules?  A cool bag that isn't too fancy to use all the time, and big enough to carry all your stuff and have room to put more stuff in, like if you're shopping or something.  The Marc by Marc Jacobs Slingy is one of my favorites...  it is huge and the strap is nice and long so you can wear it crossbody-style, and it's nylon so you can clean it pretty easily if it gets dirty.  I can fit my phone and my iPad and my wallet and a makeup pouch, and still have room to throw more stuff in there, and even put an extra set of clothes for my kid in case she feels like peeing all over everything.  The Tate bags are nice in the same way, huge and low-maintenance.  You can poke around and find a million different colors and find ones from a season or two ago that are on clearance.  Check Zappos, too, they sometimes have nice diffusion-line bags on sale for pretty good prices.  The person getting the gift isn't gonna know it was on sale, and they're not gonna try to return the gift if you got them a Marc Jacobs bag.

NAKED PALETTE:  These are super nice, but too pricy to just buy on a whim, so they are good for gifts.  Pretty much universally flattering, too.  If you're buying for someone with a darker complexion, get the Naked one.  If you're buying for someone who is lighter-complected, get the Naked2 palette.  It doesn't even really matter, though.  I wear both, and I know ladies with medium/darker complexions who wear #2.  If you're buying for someone who is younger, or a little more risque in their makeup, and you're pretty confident that they'd like it, you can get one of the other Urban Decay palettes that have a ton of colors.  UD palettes are pretty awesome deals.  Their shadows are really nice to use, the palettes have 10+ colors, and the individual shadows are $18 on their own, so it is a rad deal.  The Smoked Palette is $49, and just the eyeliner in it is usually $19 by itself.

KID GIFTS:  Don't get anything that has batteries.  You'll either forget to give batteries and the kid will have to wait until their folks go to the store to get batteries, or they'll like it and burn through batteries constantly, or you'll drive the parents nuts with battery toy noise.

EYECLOPS BIONIC EYE:  This thing is my favorite thing ever.  You just plug it into the TV and point it at shit, and it's a 200x microscope that displays on the TV.  It's pretty compelling, super easy to set up, and it's real futuristic that they have stuff like this for kids now.  It says ages 8-15, but there aren't really any small pieces to speak of, and I could see younger kids liking it, as long as you keep an eye on them so they don't pull the TV down on their stupid heads.  

LEGOS:  Easy.  There is a Lego set for whatever budget you're working with, and kids like 'em.  Even if the kid already has Legos, more Legos just makes them better.  I know they have those girl Legos now, and I personally find them insulting, but girls like that bullshit.  If you're buying for your girlkid, stock her up on the regular Legos, and get a tiny bit of the bullshit girl Legos to placate her and use as flair on regular Lego buildings.  Compromise.

ART STUFF:  It won't kill a kid to do something that isn't video games or computer stuff or watching TV.  Get them a ton of paper and some crayons or washable markers.  Go crazy and give them some tape and glue and safety scissors and baggies of bullshit like feathers and google eyes.  I got Nona some of this Crayola metallic paper a while ago when the weather was crappy and she was all cooped up.  It was pretty rad, and she thought it was the cat's ass.

CHEAP STUFF:  Sometimes you're broke, or you are getting gifts for people who are more casual acquaintances.

SITTING:  If you have friends or relatives with kids, and you're not a pedophile who smokes angel dust, give them a voucher or two for free babysitting so they can go out for a change.  It's not really much skin off your ass, and a sitter for a night out can run them up to $50.  Give them two vouchers and you'll be the best ever.

SNACKS:  Maybe you're the shit at baking like I am (cough cough I rule cough cough.)  Make 3 or 4 different cookies and/or candy and make plates of a little bit of each.  This is good to give neighbors and stuff.  If you want to elevate the gift, give it along with a coffee mug, or put it on a nice plate and let them keep it.  Done and done.

CRAFTY STUFF:  Maybe you're crafty.  I don't know what crafts you do, do whatever you're best at.  I wouldn't recommend knitting or crochet gifts, they take waaaaaay too long, and then the recipient might not like it and it is a massive waste of time.  Look at it this way, if you typically make $10 an hour at work, your time is worth roughly $10 an hour.  If you spend $40 on yarn, and 10 hours knitting something, suddenly it's a $140 scarf and they hate it.  Keep the crafts simple or you'll get your feelings hurt.

YEAH!  What are y'all buying everyone?





95 comments:

  1. My family doesn't do the gift thing anymore, since the year that we all exchanged $25 Target gift cards and went "Heh!". Instead, I buy myself the stuff I want and enjoy the pleasure of their blessedly-brief company.

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  3. A good guy gift--hats that have built in LED lights so they can see without holding a flashlight. REI has a polar tec warm one that isn't too doofus

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    1. my husband has been using our sons head lamp for night grilling and loves it.....come to think of it my 5 year old son loves it to, especially when we bring home some boxes and tape them together like a tunnel and he can use chalk to make "cave paintings"
      good gift for kids and adults.

      For cheap office gifts I've always liked LOTTO TICKETS to get and give.

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    2. Hellyeah to the headlamps. Kids like em, dudes like em, ladies and momladies like em. Awesome for people who like to read in teh car in the dark, or read in bed, or deal with bullshit under the hood of the car in the dark, or finding shit under the couch. HEADLAMPS. They come in fun colours too.

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  4. Last year I made a huge batch of chocolate covered strawberries and gave them to my coworkers in cute little snowmen containers (like a dollar a container SUPER CHEAP). Everyone loved them. It was super easy to make and throw together. It took the chocolate longer to cool and harden than it took me to put it all together. This made perfect little gift for about 7 people and I ended up spending about 40 bucks when all was said and done.

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    1. my favorite food gift to make is marshmallows. you can flavor them with vanilla or mint or lemon or anything, really, and people are always super impressed. and the only ingredients are sugar, cornsyrup, water, gelatin, and whatever flavor extract. super cheap.

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    2. I made homemade marshmallows last year. Blew people's minds. The hardest part was CUTTING THE DANG THINGS. How do you do it without gluing yourself and your scissors/pizza cutter/chain saw to the counter???

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    3. A fuck ton of powdered sugar. Seriously, coat everything with it and reapply as needed. Also, I put wax-paper over the cutting board, which seemed to help as well. Word to the wise, Do Not forget to coat your pan, you will never get that fucker clean.

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    4. Chocolate covered marshmallows are awesome too. Melt chocolate bits in the microwave. Put marshmallows on a stick and dip in chocolate. Before the chocolate cools, put on m&ms, sprinkles or whatever candy you want to use to decorate. Snowmen are a good idea. Under $20

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    5. Yes, marshmallows rock! I was stumped on a dad gift a couple years ago so I gave him the "Marshmallow of the Month Club" (12 pre-stamped, addressed-to-me postcards, one flavor on each, so he mails me one when he wants marshmallows and I make them and mail them).

      To cut them, the best thing I've found is a bench scraper/dough cutter (looks like rectangle of metal that's been rolled on one side). Lots of powdered sugar, press straight down, don't try to cut like with a knife. Works pretty good.

      Ooh, for more flavor options, I've successfully used the Lorann oils--they're a few bucks each and come in a million more flavors than extracts.

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  5. I feel kind of bad because I am buying my mom a bunch of kitchen stuff, which feels like such a bad mom gift, BUT she recently painted the backsplash in the kitchen purple, and has been looking for purple kitchen stuff, and I happen to be finding a lot of it! So I am getting her a little one cup purple coffee maker, and some spoons and spatulas and shit, whatever I can find. If I can only remember the name of the perfume she wanted, I'll be set.

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    1. I think the no kitchen stuff rule doesn't apply if the mom requests is. i'm talking, like, WHAT SHOULD I GET MOM? OH HOW BOUT THIS VACUUM? SHE LIKES VACUUMING STUFF!

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    2. Yeah, I know it's not the same as being like "happy mother's day, here is an iron", and cooking is something that she actually really loves to do, I just feel weirdly guilty about it in the back of my head? I work retail, so I see a lot of people buy really shitty gifts for their friends and relations, I definitely am doing better than all those people.

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    3. So get her a matching fancy purple nail polish to go with it! Butter London's "Marrow" maybe?

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    4. Now that my sister and I have been out of home for a few years I don't feel so bad about the kitchen/mum stuff, even though she's always loved it, especially kitchen stuff. I think yes to cookbooks, new gadgets, fancy cookware but NO! to cleaning appliances or anything like tea towels. My mum once got tea towels from someone for Christmas - seriously? Just don't get anything if it's something like that.
      The odd thing is, my Nanna LOVES linens and table clothes etc as gifts.

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    5. I always ask for kitchen stuff for Christmas. I got my wok and cappuccino machine when I was in high school, I got a food processor a few years ago, and last year was my immersion blender.

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  6. I'm all about gifting edibles. Last year I made some really good caramel corn for gifts, and this year I might do the same or make something like chocolate bark which is uber easy - melt chocolate, add nuts and/or fruit, spread out and cool, break apart and package up.

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  7. I'm a real big fan of cookies in a jar. You know, where you layer all of the dry ingredients for cookies in a mason jar with the recipe attached. Then all the giftee has to do is add the wet ingredients and bake, then BAM. Fresh cookies. I try to avoid using recipes that everyone already knows, like chocolate chip or whatever. (This year I'm toying around with a Mocha Gingerbread creation.) It's a pretty cheap way to hit a lot of people in your circle. But you have to know your audience; not everyone wants a baking project for Christmas. I just go ahead and bake the cookies for those people.

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    1. Not being critical because you know your own audience but I HATE getting those. I've tried I think 2 I got as gifts and they didn't turn out - I think there is something to creaming the sugar with the butter then adding ingredients in stages. Plus I have my own flour and sugar and baking powder - lacking those things is not usually an impediment to baking something, for me. It's more like, I'm out of eggs! Or, I don't have an hour to stand around in the kitchen then be tempted to eat an entire batch of cookies by myself.

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    2. I'm sorry they didn't work out! I haven't had issues with them, but I can definitely see why they aren't for everyone. With my group of friends, it's more about exchanging the recipe than the cookies themselves. This year, I'd bet that a lot of the people I'm giving to wouldn't have espresso powder the recipe calls for on hand. This way they can try them without having to go buy anything special.

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  8. This year I'm playing around with infused alcohols, like apple bourbon or coffee vodka. I am an avid knitter, and I totally agree about not giving people knitted gifts. Unless the giftee has requested something AND it's pretty small (socks/fingerless mittens), I'm not going to bother. I think people assume that knitting a gift is a cheap cop-out, but it's actually more expensive and time consuming than buying something full price at the store.

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    1. Infused alcohol worked for me a couple years ago--I did cardamom-cinnamon vodka and recommended mixing with gingerale. It was kind of a specific taste, though, so if I do it this year I'll go simpler and think of a better cocktail to recommend. I added edible glitter for color/sparkle and found cheap bottles here: http://www.specialtybottle.com/

      Last year I did homemade truffles and almost had a nervous breakdown. Sticking something in the fridge for a week or so is MUCH better.

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    2. Truffles also made me want to die. The recipe was all like "So easy! Great gift!". LIES.

      Do you have redskins in America? They're these hard-chewy pink candy that taste kind of raspberry/general 'pink' flavour that school kids tend to eat. This bar in my city used to serve cocktails made out of them and the bartender told me how to make them - you just put 12 in a regular bottle of vodka and leave it in the fridge for a few days so they dissolve and serve it with soda water. It's so good, and oddly nostalgic. Anyway, that's a cool gift to give.
      I'm sure it would work with other flavoured candy, anything hard or semi-hard that would dissolve, especially ones from childhood, preferably one that isn't associated with racism.

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  9. I'm cross stitching bad words and making Oreo truffles and peanut butter truffles. I'm more broke this holiday than I was last year when I was unemployed, so gifts are whatever I can scrape together. Last year I made vanilla extract, (which is super easy, vanilla beans and liquor)and made fancy labels with Milli Vanilli on them. It was nothing short of amazing.

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    1. When you say cross stitching bad words, what do you mean? Is it a clever little saying with a shit or fuck? I know some people that would definitely be into that.

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    2. I have done this. Cross-stitch a picture of a fuzzy kitten and a scripty 'Fuck'. It's a good gift for a silly gift exchange or for a friend who will appreciate it's stupidity. Not good for friends with children learning to read, however.

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    3. Sorry, just saw this, Scottee. I'm currently working on one that says "See you next Tuesday", which is my favorite insult. Think on it. C-U-N....

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  10. Being Italian I have this gene that compels me to feed people where two or more are gathered. My friends get together every New Year's Eve and I usually end up making homemade pasta, sauce, and meatballs for everyone. It's a labor of love and it's cheap enough for me. Plus, I have friends that live in Japan that never get proper comfort food. Their reactions are pretty much my gift.

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  11. The person I have the hardest time finding a gift for (and have all my life) is my grandpa. What do you get the 90 year old man who has everything?? We live in the same town where some of my other relatives don't so I see him daily and I have seen years and years worth of gifts from my relatives just sit in boxes unopened because Grandpa doesn't want to use that new flashlight/coffeepot/pair of slippers/whatever when his old stuff is just fine to him. I usually get him a gift certificate to the place where he has coffee with his cronies but I have done that for several years and would like to come up with something different.

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    1. my grandpa always liked getting a bottle of Canadian Club or some other booze he was running low on, and a new calendar. My husband and I gave our whole family one gift last year by getting family photos done by a real photographer instead of just at Sears, and that went over pretty well, we gave everybody one big print as their gift.

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    2. My grandpa doesn't drink anymore but you gave me a great idea. Gramps does have a weekly card game that he hosts at his house once a month or so, so I was thinking maybe I can make him a basket of stuff he would use for card night, food, drinks, some extra decks of cards, dice, that sort of thing.

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    3. My aunt and uncle got my grandpa a tab for life at the cafe he liked to go. He just told them to put in on this tab, and the cafe sent the bill once a month to my aunt and uncle. It was a pretty awesome idea, and how big a tab can an old guy in his 90's run up?

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    4. Your card night gift basket sounds great!

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  12. All the kids in my family are getting art supplies (all from sales at Michaels). The women are getting stuff from Ulta.

    I could give my Dad a whole stack of gift cards and he will never use them (no idea why). For people like that who really don't want anything there's always the Red Cross holiday catalogue (Google it)
    "Choose gifts to donate in honor of the special people in your life"
    For $25 you can vaccinate 25 babies. It will give everyone the warm fuzzies.

    One thing that has been totally wasted on my family the last few years is blue rays/DVD's, they are pricey and once we get them they go in a drawer in our TV unit and are never seen again. We don't have cable but with Redbox, Netflix, Hulu, & AmazonPrime owning movies is just sort of obsolete for us. (with the exception of kid movies/shows)

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  13. Thank you so much for the guy ideas!! I'm terrible at picking out gifts for the men in my life and you really helped me

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  14. I made chai tea mix for everyone this year, put it in a cute jar with some colorful fabric and nice tissue paper, and made a letterpress card with the recipe inside it. Part craft, part edible, totally easy to bust out 25 and not be worried about getting what for who. People have seemed to enjoy it so far (I give out gifts when I see people rather than all at once at the holidays) and some people even got to try chai for the first time! Plus I used spices from a wholesale shop, so it's not like I have random star anise in the cabinet left over. And I like chai, so it was fun and delicious to try out the recipes.

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  15. I seem to have a pretty weird family. We do this secret santa thing with my dad's family and a few years ago my sister and I each got one of our male cousins. We got them some dress shirts as per the recommendation of my aunt and they were SUPER STOKED. Like, they were nice shirts but still. I'd be pretty bummed if someone just got me some dress shirts for Christmas, and I usually love getting clothes. But as long as they're happy, I guess.
    I also got my cousin some running shoes and one of those things you put in your shoes to track your run with your iPhone. Again, super stoked. My family is boring.
    This year I'm working with a pretty tight budget, so I'm probably just gonna bake cookies for everyone. Yaaaaay cookies.

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  16. I think I'm young/poor enough that I can get away with not getting gifts for everyone, and thus I usually just give gifts to my close friends & family. Even though you said to avoid crochet stuff, that's usually my go-to gift because I can bust out a simple but cute hat in an hour or so. It probably helps that most of my crochet gift recipients are 1) family/boyfriend who have to appreciate it or 2) close friends who are also crafters. Aside from that, I usually also get small things that they will appreciate, such as incense for my mom, a spiral shell necklace or nice beer for my boyfriend, or lipstick for my best friend. Generally I find that if you get something that's "so them" for someone (especially if it's something they wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves), no matter how small and/or inexpensive, they will treasure it :)

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  17. One time I just gave my friend a pear with the words "CONVERSATION PIECE" on it. Nailed it.

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  18. I think a good lady/mom gift is fancy candles. Especially Anthropologie ones that come in pretty containers. But it has to be really fancy, not bullshit Bed Bath &Beyond ones. Depending on the lady I usually get a couple other small things like lipgloss, lotion, cashmere socks, gift card. I love getting a bunch of smaller things so that is what I give! Fancy butt coffee or teavanna tea is a big hit with everyone who drinks it.

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  19. Most of the dudes in my life are dudes who like multitools or fancy flashlights and other tech/survivalist stuff. Something about giving a friend buffalo jerky entertains the heck out of me. I also have a lot of friends of both sexes who like quirky science gifts, like gallium (metal, liquid at body temperature, non-toxic) or miracle berry tablets, but I try not to buy from ThinkGeek because I feel like they are a ripoff and pander to the kind of nerd I don't want to be.

    I don't have a lot of ladies in my life aside from my mother. She has everything she wants, so I try to find bizarre little things that will entertain her, or things she may not have heard of that will blow her mind - like that Sephora polish remover! Or experiences, like a trip to a fancy teahouse.

    For other ladies, if possible, I try to find the right gift for what I know about them without being the person who heard one stupid factoid about an acquaintance and turned it into their whole being. I study insects, but I don't want goofy bug-themed gifts from people in my life. I have a friend who mentioned how much she'd like to have a hobby farm one day so I found http://www.amazon.com/Farm-Anatomy-Curious-Pieces-Country/dp/1603429816 and thought it was pretty good. And cheap.

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    1. If there were kids in my life I'd probably get them something like that farm book too! Or bug stuff. Because kids SHOULD like goofy bug stuff.

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    2. I have a friend named Barry who like boobs a lot and my husband got him a mounted, framed, sample of Barium Titanate for his birthday. He thought it was hilarious.

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    3. YES I hate when people take that one thing they know about you and buy you shitty gifts like soccer themed calendars for the rest of your life. I'm also all for buying personal gifts without being that person, so I usually to get them an experience like tickets to an event they would like (if it's not too expensive). Good idea for your friend--books can also work well!

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    4. Gallium - great idea. So went to the Educational Innovations website.... owl pellets-what a cool idea - perfect for a nephew who is difficult to buy for... They have lots of other stuff, too.

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  20. Woo! Presents! I made my boyfriend a hollowed book box (the book itself was used and like $5) and a couple of cool $1 Star Wars stickers. The boy loves stickers. I also found a couple of ancient Star Trek magazine thingies at a comic book store--cheap cheap cheap for something he loves.

    You're totally right about dads not wanting anything, and then all the things my mom wants are waaaay to expensive--so my sister and I will probably take them out to a nice restaurant and fill them with booze.

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    1. The hollow book idea is genius! Although I'm curious now... what small object does your boyfriend have lying around that he wants to hide? :P

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  21. I always get my dad a couple months of netflix, because he watched the hell out of that, and it's cheap but a nice gesture because, you know, dad.

    I get my mom stuff for her cat, because she doesn't really want anything, but she like watching her cat when he's high on a new catnip toy, and that is like $10 for the best one ever.

    My brother lives in a different country from me, so we always trade boxes of candy bars and crap we can't get where we live. I also do this when friends go to countries to study abroad or whatever, because if you're talking a different language than normal AND you can't eat any Reece's, that is the worst.

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  22. I have kind of a large family, and even though my siblings, cousins, and myself are all grown ass adults, all the mom's, aunts, uncles, and grandparents still like to get us all a little something. This year, I'm feeling pretty stoked on myself, because although I'm on a tight budget, I managed a pretty damn simple craft for a gift to give everyone!

    Go to your local craft-mart (A.C. Moore, Michaels, whatever) and pick up however many 6-packs of clear glass ornaments (the ones that have the tops you can easily remove and replace) you need (I did 24). After you have those bad boys, the sky is basically the limit. You can fill them with shit (I did glitter, pretty feathers, natural moss, and some really small inexpensive silk flowers - they look super sophisticated, which surprised even me. You can also paint them, decoupage, etc. etc. They look great, and I got 25 unique gifts for under $40.

    For my mom/grandmother, I always go to a local vintage store (if you're in Richmond VA, it's Bygones in Carytown!) and pick out a pretty piece of vintage jewlery. Usually a little cameo pin, or a nice bracelet with malechite or jade or something...just something small and pretty and special. They love it, and I keep the budget to about $25 per person.

    I think I'm lucky, because my dad/bro/boyfriend are realllyyyy easy to shop for. My pop loves cooking, so last year I got him a fancy-ass knife that he lost his shit over. This year it's a fancy-ass pan. My brother is pretty country, so I get him fishing shit and beer pretty much every year. He's never disappointed, and usually calls me to tell me all about the catfish he caught with the thing that I bought him, and I didn't even know what the thing was anyway. My boyfriend is a quick trip to the liquor store, and then one more quick trip to the hardware store. Like Natalie said, Bulleit Bourbon is the shit, and not too expensive. I go to the ABC dispensary store and get him a fucking huge bottle for like, $50. The second part is kinda specific to my guy, but he has like, 900 little projects going all the time, especially stuff that requires tons of little components. He has a list of stuff he needs, so I ganked that shit and took it to Lowes and got the dude there to find everything for me while I stood in the lamp aisle like a fuckin well-lit princess. Now he has all the little thingies he needs to finish the projects, or to start new ones, or whatever.

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  23. Or for the dude that doesn't drink liquor on the regular - fancy beer! I go to the craft beer store and buy large bottles of Christmas-y beers (or regular ones) that he wouldn't buy for himself on just a regular ole day. The Delirium Tremens Noel or the St. Bernardus Christmas ale are two past faves for my guy.

    Also, lets face it, they make fancy organic juniper smelling soaps for guys too. My dad secretly likes all that kind of stuff but I just realized no one ever buys it for him. I feel like a genius.

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  24. I live in Alaska so I always feel like I should be buying like a box of king crab or salmon fillets and ship it down to my dad. My mom hates seafood, but my dad has a deep freeze. Of course, a 25# box of crab costs like five hundo, and I don't have that kind of money lying around, which makes me feel really bad, because what else am I doing eking out a living from life's flinty soil in the freezing dark for??

    I usually just do this thing for Christmas where I don't buy anybody anything (it's easier since I'm single and have zero children), and nobody gets me anything either.

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    1. This makes me want to send a present to you, my frozen neighbour.

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  25. My family and friends and extended family are all a bunch of weirdos and ridiculously hard to shop for, so my favorite thing to do is get them all one or two tiny trinket-y gifts or a geeky t-shirt or something, plus a gift card to a store I know they love. That way they get something to unwrap, but also get the fun of picking out their own stuff. Last year everyone got like six pairs of socks and a Target gift card because *I* like socks and Target gift cards. :P

    Although my dad usually gives us a giant printed list of very specific and mildly expensive things he wants, so all us kids will coordinate with each other and get him either a couple cheaper things individually or one larger, more expensive thing together.

    If you have people that are artsy-fartsy and like to draw, it's really fun to splurge and get them a super nice sketchbook. One of my friends loves owls and I managed to find a fancy pants sketchbook that had this gorgeous owl on the cover. Imagine my joy when I could cross them off my shopping list! :D

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  26. I got that Sephora sampler set for Christmas one year and it still sticks out in my mind as one of the best gifts ever! And for dudes who like cologne, they make those for men, too.

    My fiance is the Grinch (in that he hates Christmas and would steal it if only he had a dog named Max and a ramshackle sleigh...) and impossible to buy for. Lately he has even been refusing to come up with suggestions of things he wants. I'm considering looking up a good BBQ sauce cookbook because he used to love to make his own BBQ sauce, so maybe he'd like to get into that again? I don't know.

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    1. Just tell him you'll take him out to dinner somewhere. Maybe BBQ. That's what I do with my own personal Mr Grumpypants.

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    2. I'm going to bank that suggestion for the future!! This year he remembered a pair of cufflinks he'd asked for a couple years ago but never got (from his family) so I'm getting him those and his favorite bourbon (Michter's--but now I want to try this Bulleit everyone has been talking about...).

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  27. My mom just asked for the 'Fifty Shades of Gray' trilogy. I am a bit ashamed (of her taste in books, never her).

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  28. I got my husband a bottle of Crystal Skull vodka last year. He likes skulls in general and he likes booze, so there ya go. Was about $50, so not uber cheap but he was so happy to get it. Now it's in his man cave with all his other skull crap.

    Natalie is SO right about dads not wanting anything. My dad is impossible to buy for. For real. He doesn't smoke cigars, hunt, golf, cook, isn't bald (so no funny bald dude things for him), doesn't like t-shirts, doesn't like sweaters, doesn't have pets, doesn't have time to read, doesn't care about iPhones or iPods or any other iGadgets, doesn't care for fancy food things much. He mainly works and tinkers with his classic cars. But he owns every tool on earth and whatever car stuff he'd want, I can't afford. If he truly wanted something he could buy it anyway, so I don't feel like I'm really helping him out with anything I buy. "Uh, here's a Home Depot gift card for $30. Knock yourself out." Yeah.

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    1. i like skulls, and i like vodka, and i like other people tp pay the premium for novelty bottles. i would like that gift.

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    2. I just got that for my husband! I like to think of it as coming with a bonus gift because after the vodka's gone you have a bad-ass skull vase.

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    4. Miltoncat I know exactly what you are talking about. My stepdad is pretty low maintenance but particular and has no real hobbies except classic cars. Im thinking- hmm does your chrome guy offer gift certificates? LOL. One time I bought him a book about the history of the city we live in, and another about the era he grew up in (both non fiction). He enjoyed reading both and we had a good time when he told me about what he read.

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    5. He loved the bottle but the vodka itself was awesome too. Even I liked it, and I'm more of a wine/champagne type than a hard liquor sipper. Has a water taste going for it. If memory serves, they have the bigger one for $50 and a smaller one for less. I just went all out 'cause it was Christmas and I knew he'd really be surprised.

      crystalheadvodka.com

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  29. My dad is like the aforementioned dads here. He never wants anything. So I usually get him food. Because he eats food and then the food is gone and I can get him more food next year. It's the same with my grandfather, who is 91 and therefore owns everything a human being could possibly own. He gets food, too.

    Actually, in general, I tend to get people things they'll use (up), like soap and bath stuff, tea, arts and crafts supplies, blank journals, etc.

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    1. I think those are the best gifts, honestly. Gifts that are permanent can really suck, especially if you find out that the gift-ee didn't like it and hid it (someone did this to me once — accidentally opened a side table and there it was, still in the box).

      The trick we have this year is buying for people a continent away, so it can't be food or anything. To get around it, we bought my MIL one of those recordable books from Hallmark and had our kid recite the ABCs into it, since he won't do it on cue/on Skype, and some nice bath stuff from a local dm-Markt. For my mom I bought a cell phone cover with my kid's picture on it from Zazzle and a hat from a German company, so obviously she can't get in the US and she gets special super bragging rights, or something.

      Our dads were way easier. A München beer mug and some Lebkuchen (we cheated on the food thing there) and a share in a local co-op pub. Now Dad can drink and pretend he can order the people around inside :)

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  30. I think it's usually best to think about people's hobbies and then cater to that. For instance, my boyfriend loves comic book and hiking, so I am getting him a new backpack to replace his old torn one, and I'm making him a tie out of Batman fabric. My mom loves to grow veggies in our garden, so she's getting a food dehydrator and a bunch of seeds.

    My Dad is among those who never need jack shit and has no hobbies. I'm getting him a bunch of those one-use handwarmers, because everyone like warm hands, and a little cheap art print to hang in his bathroom. Donezo.

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  31. I absolutely agree with all of this. The last time I was trying to shop during the holidays at a mall I was frazzled to the point of hysteria when one of those make up kiosk people jumped out at me and shrieked, "I have something to fix your problem skin!!," and I just burst into tears.

    Point being, these are some great suggestions, easily bought online or at my favorite liquor store, that I hadn't necessarily thought of.

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    1. Hahaha aww I'm sorry but that is hilarious! The holidays are always a bit stressful and those kiosk people are just the worst.

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  32. Thank you Natalie and commentators for all these awesome suggestions!

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  33. Thanks for the ideas! Love the bag or perfume thing for a lady that is hard to buy for. And I agree-- NO clothes!
    I've been told I give good gifts and my philosophy is to buy something specific to someone's interests. Be careful though--if your Uncle likes to golf, don't buy him stupid shit like golf themed calendars and coffee mugs. Actually, as long as your Uncle likes beer just get him a six pack of craft beer and call it a day (a lot of stores let you mix the pack, or get something from a local brewery). Acquaintances like workmates also get generic cheap gifts like baked goods. Painting wine glasses is another cool idea.
    But for people you're really close to, like your boyfriend or your sister, I think personal gifts are nice. If you're buying for someone's hobby then they probably have a preference for a brand, tool, etc. so do a little snooping and find out first. Or buy them a related experience. If your boyfriend is a musician, don't try to get him a guitar case unless you know exactly what he wants, but instead take him on a tour at an instrument manufacturer if there's one near you (sounds dumb, but it's awesome--you can play with tons of shit, plus it's often free/a personal tour-- just call up Taylor Guitars or Moog or whatever is near you). Or concert tickets, just make sure it's someone you like too since he'll probably bring you. I also think subscriptions are nice--if your dad is crazy into cars, find out if he gets a car magazine and buy him the next year's subscription.
    Oh and p.s. all the people doing the coffee tab for grandpas thing are GENIUSES!

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  34. My go-to gift for teenagers and college age people are movie tickets- not the gift card but the actual ticket ones that are good for opening weekend and if they want to upgrade to IMAX or 3d it's only a few bucks. That way they're guaranteed a fun night out or two with their friends or significant other and they don't have to think about how much $ is left on a card. Gangbusters every year, they look forward to getting them I think. plus you can usually order them online and not have to trump to a theater to get them. Easy and awesome and not terribly expensive.

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    1. Yes! This is a great one. I like getting restaurant gift cards for couples...I think getting out of the house is a nice present. Better than more stuff that will sit around.

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  35. Past few years I have gone with small gift and an Oxfam gift, which a card and Oxfam donates a specific gift to people in need. There's no really young kids in my extended family anymore/yet, so people tend to appreciate the 'thoughtfulness' thing. For example, last year for my mum, I got her some Aesop's hand lotion (loves it) and a goat for a Sri Lankan village. I got my sister some perfume and organic fertiliser for subsistent farmers (so, poo) For my grandma, I got her a buttload of sugar-free butterscotch hard candies (she's diabetic and can't get them as easily in the countryside) and organic seeds to farmers in developing countries (she likes gardening). There are heaps of the Oxfam gifts to choose from and they range from $10 to several hundred, all with varying gifts (money for women's shelters, livestock, seeds, all sorts of stuff) so you can choose one that the gift receiver would think highly of.
    For the kids in my family (early teen cousins etc). I generally go with crafty stuff, 'cause it's more affordable (I'm a 22 year old student), and otherwise it's pretty hard to get something that both the child is going to like and the parents will not resent you for. You can talk to relatives to get purposeful gifts. Last year I knew my uncle was getting his 11 year old daughter a camera, so I got her some start up scrapbook supplies (usually a shitty gift, but it's right up her alley).
    The most important thing with cheap/affordable gifts is that you have to be personal and thoughtful.

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  36. Replies
    1. bah-na na na na na! bah-na na na na, Cocaine!

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  37. For dads:
    It depends on the dad of course, but I would recommend Skymall. It sounds insane, but they have a lot of things that are cool ideas that people wouldn't necessarily want to spend their own money on, and dads like cool ideas.

    Last year I got my wine-loving dad a kit where he could make his old corks into a corkboard to pin stuff on. He absolutely loved it. Sometimes their products are completely insane but sometimes they're useful and cute.

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  38. I am totally allergic to most perfume, so I'd much rather get booze for Christmas. I'm not much of a lady, though.

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    1. Most of the time if someone buys you a perfume it is not the right kind anyway. It is pretty hard to go wrong with booze though! Unless you are shopping for a Mormon...haha.

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  39. All I want for Christmas is a dozen cupcakes from "The Ultimate Drunken Cupcake"....pretty sure alcohol infused baked goods would be the best Christmas ever.

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  40. I am only buying for the big 4 this year (mother, father, sister, boyfriend). Parents were easy because they are both big readers and I have come across books they will love. Add a side of alcohol and it is gifts! My sister will def be getting a Naked palette and season 1 of 2 Broke Girls. Easy peasy.

    Really worried about what to get my guy. He buys his own games and expensive booze. I have given him a watch and cufflinks and an iphone. He really needs a filing cabinet and a small safe, but are those awful gifts? He asked for new sweat pants so I got him those but they were only ten bucks...

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  41. I bought a friend a really really nice wallet for really cheap before and that was the best gift I probably could've gotten her. Works for guys especially if their wallet looks like its on their last leg. But also make sure you look at their old one to look at the things they need, like card holders or whatever.

    Jewelry for someone you know is fine, but you HAVE TO KNOW what their style is when you pick it out. Nothing sucks worse than knowing so and so got you a really nice whatever, and its just not your style. Like someone who wears stud earrings all the time is not normally going to go for big hoopy earrings.

    Bath soaps are fine as well, but I had one year where my parents had no idea what to get me so every present was soap. It was a bit depressing on my end.

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  42. I don't struggle with my husband/friends/siblings gift shopping the way I do with parents. The dudes in my life get video games, hoodies, and booze (this year my huz gets a new record player too). In the past I have purchased monogrammed money clips from this jeweler Bon Bon Oiseau http://www.bonbonoiseau.com/collection.php?catid=3, for every dude I know. Last year I gifted those whiskey rock things and rocks glasses for the guys.

    The ladies get whatever I am into myself--like Ban.Do heart pins, cute new make-up bags, fancy tea towels, and other randoms. My nieces get a mountain of clothes, books, and toys.

    I used to get giftcards for my mom, her husband, and my divorced in-laws but they weren't even using them (they "forgot" about free money, some how). My mother even re-gifted one back to me. So, this year they are all getting the same throw from West Elm, a fancy-ish candle, some monogrammed mugs, and I am making cocoa mix, marshmallows, and salted butter caramels to bulk that shit up. One day, when I have a kid, they'll get a framed photo too.

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  43. My two favorite beauty finds of the year were silk pillowcases (about $25 on Amazon, they come in every color) and Dior Abricot Nail Creme ($24 on Sephora -- totally changed my life). Pretty much everyone in my life, men and women alike, can look forward to one of those. (Most of the men in my life are gay.)

    For my dad, of course he doesn't ever need anything, so my goal for him is just to amuse. Here are some things that have succeeded recently:

    Penzey's Spices -- I sent him a selection for baking. Their Lemon Peel Powder and Shallot Salt have also revolutionized my weekday cooking. Their stuff is really superior and not that pricey, so if there are cooks or bakers in your life, check them out.

    Seymour Chwast graphic novels: the Oydssey, the Canterbury Tales, and the Divine Comedy. Very amusing for any lit geek on your list.

    Zwilling Pour Homme two-piece grooming kit. It includes a file and nail clippers in a leather pouch. It was $49 at Nieman Marcus on a whim, and he's oddly fascinated with the clippers. I ordered them online so I never saw them in person, but he's mentioned them in 3 conversations in the 2 weeks since his birthday.

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    1. I second the Penzey's recommendation!! I LOVE their stuff and my fiance and I both always ask for things from there for Christmas.

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  45. When people don't know me, they get me candles, scarves, lotions/body sprays/perfumes. I'm terrified of fire, not a big fan of scarves, and have YEARS' worth of lotions and smelly things-- even the ones that smell good, I just don't get around to using. I don't really wear any jewelry except what's given to me by my jewelry designer sister. I suck at being a girl. Oh, and I don't drink, either-- I think I'm officially one of the "hard to buy for" people. Eek. I live in Maine, though, and I'm cold all year round, so warm socks go over pretty well. I'd be really happy if everyone would just...not get me anything for Easter, Mother's Day, my birthday, and Christmas for a few years and instead buy me plane tickets to... pretty much anywhere.

    I will say, though, that I find something genuinely good to say about any gift I receive, even if there's no way in hell I'll ever use it. I run the risk of encouraging more of the same kind of gift, but I do it because it's a lot of fun to get an enthusiastic reaction to a gift.

    I'm not the biggest fan of giving/receiving edible gifts, but one thing I've made that has been a big hit in the past: dilly beans (pickled green beans). Next year I want to try making tomato jam.

    For some kids, I like getting nice puppets, like the ones by Folkmanis, or even just a few neat finger puppets. They're cute, encourage imagination, and don't take up a lot of space. It does come close to the dreaded stuffed animal gift, though, so tread carefully.

    I love buying for my own kid, but my young cousins are really tough, because they've grown up with the beeping and booping toys and are kind of jaded. I love buying art supplies, but they have it all and don't use it. What's really hard is when I have a great idea for one kid and no idea at all for the sibling, so I feel like I'm saying that I like/know one better than the other. I get a little neurotic about gift-giving.

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  46. Love the Oxfam stuff. My stepdad is really into it and he gets such a kick out of knowing that someone in a poor village somewhere now has clean water, or a pig and a goat, or whatever it is. Great idea for anyone who's comfortably off (and can buy whatever they want usually) and not hanging out for something specific.

    Mum is harder to buy for, I usually just go to her beauty salon and get her a gift card for like a deluxe mani and pedi with a facial. Done!

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  47. Love all the ideas... a few of mine...
    A cheapie gift for kids who love to tell stories (MINE): buy wooden dice from a craft store for a couple of dollars, paint them and draw pictures on each one - choose themes (one die for animals, one for gadgets, etc). Kids can roll the dice and then have to make up a story based on what's facing.
    For adults, I usually sew a bag for each, and use fabric paint to stencil on a monogram. They tend to take about an hour each, and everyone can always use another shopping bag.
    For friends that are traveling, I put together a travel essentials kit - cute make up bag, a few things like Tums, aspirin, hand get, etc, along with a gift card for $10 or so for a new book.

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  48. Seriously, you guys, if you have a friend who has kids and doesn't have a support structure (grandparents, siblings, etc.) nearby, babysitting vouchers are the best thing ever. EVER. You never need to buy them anything ever again, just babysit.

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  49. I guess I'm one of the few lucky girls with an easy to buy for Dad. This year he actually requested the book Who I Am by Pete Townshend but in the past I can rarely go wrong with anything music (especially Beatles) related. He also loves good chardonnay and loves to cook, so I have purchased him good knives/pans and he's loved it. I think it's more about just knowing the person you're buying for.

    For my fiance, (male) best friend and brother this year I found a lot of gifts on ThinkGeek. Aforementioned male best friend is expecting a baby in January so I got him a badass Batman diaper bag off Etsy and a silly book about parenting in addition to some cool t shirts.

    It's funny, thinking about this I have a super easy time with the guys in my life but struggle with the girls (except my mom...that formula is "Would I enjoy this? Yes I would. Okay then mom will enjoy it."). I'm still at a loss for what to get my stepmother and my female bff. Not because I don't know them but because I do and I know they're super finicky about stuff and that's just a lot of pressure. Is it lame to just go the gift certificate route with that?

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