How to Buy for Difficult People or Ones You Don’t Know

ChristmasGifts_FrustratedGirlWhen you have to buy a gift for someone you don’t know, it’s the worst. Or even if you know the person, they may be really picky. So how do you find a great gift?  Below are some Dos and Don’ts to help you be a great holiday shopper (even if it’s last minute).

DO NOT BUY CLOTHING (Choose an Accessory Instead)

Don’t buy any kind of clothing for someone you are not familiar with.  There are a lot of reasons including buying the wrong size (this could be taken offensively), getting something at a store they never shop at (so gift receipts don’t matter if they don’t want to exchange anything), etc.  If you are insistent, buy some kind of accessory like sunglasses, earrings, a wallet or perhaps a belt.  Accessories can still be tough to get right but overall tend to be better gifts.


Gift cards are usually a great way to go amongst people you know, but it may not be as appropriate for people you don’t.  I’m a big fan of handing out a Visa Gift Card for birthdays and holidays but the only problem that comes with that is a specific dollar amount.  If it’s a Secret Santa, Grab Bag, etc. sort of deal, then it probably works. Otherwise, if you haven’t really met the person (i.e. perhaps you’re meeting a significant other’s family or group of friends for the first time) you want to show that you were thoughtful.  Gift Cards are great, easy and sure to allow someone to get what they want, but also don’t require a lot of thought and you want to be sure to make a great impression!


Oh gift baskets.  Classic Holiday gifts that no one likes, right?  Wrong.  They may sound cheesy but they are actually an easy way to be practical and thoughtful.  I aim for gifts that are useable, and the right gift basket can be.  You can make them as big or small as your budget will allow.  You can buy them or make it yourself.  It can be a custom or generic gift if you need it to be.  Here are some basic themes that can be sure to please:

Wine & Cheese Basket




BBQ Themed Basket


Coffee/Tea, Breakfast Basket


Build around a central idea, rather than what someone may or may not like.  This will help you overcome your “gift giving block” and create something enjoyable.  For example, if someone is into fishing and hunting, think about the things you would need for either of those tasks.  Build a basket with a Swiss Army Knife, fishing wire, hooks, tackle box (you can fill it with candy rather than figuring out what all has to go in a tackle box if you don’t know or it doesn’t come pre-filled), and perhaps throw in a gift card to somewhere like BassPro or Dick’s Sporting Goods. Here a gift card is nice because it’s accompanying a gift.  It accents the gift, rather than focuses on it.

If you decide to do a bath set, do something with a more mild or standard scent.  Ask the store what their most popular sellers are and go with that.  For men, this can include a shaving kit.

You can do a movie theme including popcorn, candy, cans or bottles of soda, etc.

Be creative yet keep it simple and you will be sure to please this holiday season!

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