Holiday gift buying has always been particularly anxiety-fraught for me; my mother raised me to believe if it is the thought of a gift that counts, much thought should go into every gift.
In a universe of millions of products, finding a perfect thingamajig that each of your recipients will actually use and appreciate is hard enough, but trickier still when watching your wallet – and who isn’t? As the holiday shopping season kicks off, I thought I’d offer a small collection of gift ideas for different budgets that I’ve fallen back on time and time again over the years. Most of these you can find on Amazon.com, where, by the way, your purchases (including those you would make anyway) support this free blog. If you choose to help us in this way, thank you!
With only five or ten dollars to spend, it’s time to get creative. Gifts cards to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts are the obvious choice – perhaps overdone – and not so great for the non-coffee drinkers of the world.
With a budget up to $25 your options widen considerably, but that may not always be a good thing.
For women, a pair of earrings has been a trusty gift in this price range. The arrival of online craft marketplace Etsy has made it easier than ever to snag affordable handmade jewelry even if you don’t live near shops. Scarves work, too.
Guys can be harder. I always appreciate a six-pack or pint of a unique microbrew. I can usually use some new t-shirts, too.
For readers, books used to be a sure thing – it’s hard to go wrong with one of the season’s bestselling titles – but these days you’ll have to check whether your recipient prefers an e-reader or is sticking with paper.
I’ve often had the most difficulty finding gifts in these middle-of-the-road price ranges. You can spend enough that your options are vast, but not so much that a single big-ticket item becomes the obvious gift of choice.
For the drinking men and women on my list, a bottle of nice bourbon or scotch fits the bill.
For men, wallets and belts make great alternatives to ties (because so few of us wear them anymore).
Finally, one new, cool option that has just dipped under the $50 price range is the Roku LT streaming player (for watching Netflix at other streaming services on your TV).
With $100 to spend, I often look to create a memorable experience with a gift certificate. $100 can buy a nice dinner for two or a massage or other spa treatment.
Carrying a cell phone, nobody needs a watch anymore, but wrist watches still make fashion and/or fitness accessories for guys or girls. You can collect more than one, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a timepiece that turns heads.
$100 and up
With more money to spend on a gift, you can delve into luxury clothes and accessories that we don’t always splurge on ourselves but love to receive as gifts.
A tablet like the Kindle Fire makes a good gadget gift for more than $100 but less than $200.
This price range also opens up fine jewelry – you would be surprised at the quality and deals you can find online, even on diamonds.
Finally, one of the best wedding gifts Lauren and I received was a membership to a wine-of-the-month club like the California Wine Club. They’ll send you a chosen number of handpicked bottles every month. These memberships aren’t cheap, but are always appreciated. (Lauren is still bitter that many of our bottles came while she was pregnant with Molly and somehow disappeared in the meantime. Oops.)
What about you? What rules of thumb do you use when hand-picking gifts?