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The Best Gifts for People Difficult to Shop For

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December 17, 2015 · 2.9k Views

“What do you want for the holidays?”

This seemingly harmless question is uttered far too often this time of year.

The person asking the question often has the purest intentions, merely inquiring about potential gift ideas. For some, this is an exciting topic to talk about, but for others it can be stressful.

I’m one of those people. Trying to come up with gift ideas, a list of “wants,” has become difficult and anxiety inducing. I try to avoid it if at all possible, often times putting off answering until right before Christmas, so that the person has already been forced to make the decision on their own

Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely appreciative that my family and friends love me enough to go to all this trouble. It’s not that I mean to be an inconvenience, although I’m sure I am for their holiday shopping.

I wasn’t always this way, as a kid I used to write a letter to Santa, and the ideas would pour out of my pen. I wanted the latest and greatest toys, gadgets, sports equipment, and more. Over the years though, as I have grown up and become an adult, my mindset has shifted. I no longer “need” a long list of material possessions. I’m much more happy with less. While I still enjoy receiving gifts, and genuinely appreciate the thought and effort that my family and friends put into gift giving, I’d rather enjoy time with them without the need to stress about finding the perfect gift.

Related Post: How to Give Holiday Gifts on a Budget

With all this in mind, it might seem like I’m a very difficult person to find gifts for. On the contrary, people like me are actually easy to find gifts for, just in a different way. So here are the best gifts to get the people in your life who seem to be the most difficult to shop for:



This is first on this list for good reason. Rather than trying to pick out the perfect material possession that the person might like, and most of the time will be quickly forgotten, gift them an experience instead. Try outings such as a spa day, massages, concerts, sports games, kayaking, picnics, weekend road trips, and more. There are plenty of ideas that will be memorable for years to come, and let you spend quality time with that person.

Practical Gifts

Speaking from experience, you can’t go wrong if you give a gift that fits this description. These can consist of a wide range of items, depending on who you’re shopping for. Everything from slow cookers and durable kitchen knives for making homemade meals. Robes, slippers, blankets, and gloves for comfort. Headphones and portable cell phone chargers for people on the go. There are also books, coffee mugs and thermoses, calendars, and subscriptions ranging from magazines, Netflix, and Costco. If the gift is something that will be used often and helps make the person’s everyday life easier, you’ve found yourself a winner.

Consumable Gifts

When in doubt, give a consumable gift. This ensures the gift will be used in a timely manner and won’t collect dust in the closet. Some people may not want additional material items, but everyone has food or drinks they fancy. Consumable gifts can range from special chocolates and desserts, beer, wine, coffee, tea, even fancy steaks and cheeses!

Meaningful and Homemade Gifts

The best gifts are the ones with meaning. When obvious thought has been put into a gift, it’s almost impossible not to love. Sentimental gifts such as photos, picture frames, albums, and scrapbooks are all touching gestures. Be sure to choose a special photo or memory to highlight the gift and make it personal. Homemade gifts also achieve this objective because they show that time and effort went into making the final product. Another idea is an ornament highlighting a favorite memory from the year. With these types of gifts, positive feelings and memories will come to life, rather than an object being set aside and forgotten.

Gifts to Enhance Time With Family/Friends

These items keep the focus on time spent with others, while making that time even better. Gifts such as board games, a custom set of playing cards, puzzles, DVD’s and Blu-ray’s, and craft kits are all items that fit the bill and will be well appreciated. These gifts help foster healthy conversations, cozy date nights, and well spent family time.

Gift Cards and Cash

Sometimes giving gift cards or cash might seem taboo. Many people think it’s the easy way out and shows no thoughtfulness. While that may be true in some cases, the key is to make sure that the gift cards are for stores that cater towards the person’s hobbies and interests, or are for their favorite restaurants. If you’re buying for a person you don’t know as well, take the time to have a conversation with them or pay attention to their social media posts to give you a glimpse of what they enjoy doing in their spare time. As for giving cash, spice it up with some creativity. This shows that you put thought and effort into the gift, while ensuring that you’re giving a gift that will be put to good use!

Make a Donation to Charity

What better way to spread holiday cheer than to give to the less fortunate? You can make a donation to a charity of your choosing, in their name.


Final Thoughts

We all have those people in our lives that we want to give gifts to, with some being easier to shop for than others. Rather than taking the easy way out and buying something expensive that has little meaning, take the time to consider the interests and lifestyle of those you’re giving to. Whether this is carried out by giving gifts involving experiences, practicality, or the many other options to consider, it comes down to giving a gift with meaning and purpose. In this way, we can eliminate the anxiety and headache of trying to find the perfect material possession, and instead focus on the time spent with one another this holiday season.

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A lifelong Bay Area native, Matt Spillar graduated in 2013 from Fresno State with a Sports Marketing degree. He strives to combine his passion for sports marketing along with his interests in finance and budgeting. In his spare time, he writes for his personal blog, spillsspot.com

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