Since I love coming up with gift ideas for people and while I am writing this we are currently in Extreme Gifting Season (also known as Christmas if you’re into that), I asked you all for some specific personalities you’re shopping for! These are my hopefully-entertaining and maybe-helpful gift ideas for some of the people on your list.
Grumpy Recluse Dad
This first one already has me torn because I think that a gift should celebrate someone’s personality, BUT sometimes when you care about someone and want the best for them, you have to nudge them a little. So this could go a couple ways.
Embrace the recluse vibe and get them things that will make them cozy and happy at home. Fuzzy blankets, heated pillows or slippers, a mug warmer for tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Or activities like puzzles and books.
Poke some fun at the grumpy guy with characters like the Grinch, Grumpy from Snow White, and Oscar the Grouch. You could get a sweater or blanket with one of these guys on it (are there no famous grumpy feminine characters? We need representation!) to be cozy AND funny. But please, don’t go this route if it’s going to hurt the recipient’s feelings.
Or draw the hermit out of their cave with tickets to an event, museum, or class that they would love. It could be any kind of sports game, a local food tour, a musical performance, or a low-key visit to a historic landmark.
Eco Warrior Mama
Ooh, this one has lots of options. So many small businesses are environmentally-friendly so I would start off looking at local markets and shops, on Facebook and Instagram, and on Etsy. I recently saw an indoor gardening station that would be amazing if you want to go big! (Okay, I’m projecting here – I want that gardening station. But those poor plants would not make it.)
The one potential roadblock I see here is if they are already dedicated to a waste-free lifestyle and don’t really need anything new. In that case, you can look for consumable items, like soap and shampoo bars, candles, or any kind of food. If you are feeling crafty, you could also make or upcycle something! Another idea is to make a donation in their name to an environmental nonprofit. Sometimes you get a gift (like a cute stuffed animal) with your donation, or at least a nice certificate.
Finally, let’s not forget the second part of this – mom! Don’t be afraid to get sentimental with your gift choices for a mom.
Conspiracy Theorist Dad
Phew. Okay. Most families have one, so let’s see what we can do. This is a more difficult case of wanting to celebrate your loved one’s personality but also not encourage bad habits.
Unfortunately today when I hear “conspiracy theory” I think of the awful political ones that are messing up America. But what about the less terrible conspiracy theories, like aliens?! There are tons of cool spaced-themed gifts out there that could possibly appeal to this recipient – UFO lamps, books about outer space, rocket ship Lego kits, even a small (or big!) telescope.
Sometimes people get caught up in conspiracy theories because they’re constantly on the internet, alone, getting trapped in an echo chamber of bad ideas. Maybe some self-reflection can pull them out? Some kind of journal (maybe one with prompts) could be a pleasantly surprising gift. Basically, I think anything that encourages them to focus on something more positive could be great.
I wouldn’t get them any kind of “this is why you’re wrong” informational “gifts” but that’s your prerogative. If you are really tired and looking for the path of least resistance, get them a simple item like a hat or tea towel with a tag that clearly reads (if you’re in America) Made in the USA.
Secret Santa Acquaintance
Let this one be sort of a catch-all for any more professional environment, like the office Secret Santa or White Elephant. Thankfully I’ve seen more gift exchanges give people space to make a wish list, but what if you have someone who skipped that part?
I think this is the right time to get a Christmas-themed gift like a mug or a notepad. If the recipient is your coworker in an office-y job, think of something they could use – pens, stationery, a mouse pad, a USB dock. If you work in any kind of customer service, I’d get your coworker some kind of “relaxation” gift or maybe just some alcohol. (It’s rough out there, okay.) Sweet treats are a nice idea too, though they might feel pressured to share them with the rest of the staff.
And a gift card to the nearest coffee shop or lunch spot will always be appreciated. Add a nice card and a sticker to make it feel more personal!
Vague “I don’t have a wishlist” Sister-In-Law
Ooh, this is tough. Not really any personality traits. But! A good route to go is a joint gift for your sibling AND their spouse – some kind of food gift basket, a gift card to their favorite restaurant, a family or pet portrait, or a cool board game.
If you live in a cold climate, I also think anything warm and comfy is a nice idea for winter holidays. Blankets, sweatshirts, beanies, socks. Next time you are at their house (or just creeping on social media), see if there are certain colors or themes they seem to like.
Again, if this is someone who doesn’t have a wish list because they feel like they already have everything they need, items that get used up (like food or bath products) can be a smart choice.
Thinking of gift ideas is so fun because you get to celebrate someone you care about! I think an important part of shopping for gifts is to really think about what the recipient would like best, and don’t let your opinion overtake the whole thing.
Some of my favorite places to shop for gifts are Uncommon Goods, Etsy, and of course, small local businesses. With Small Business Saturday coming up, I bet there will be plenty of opportunities for you to shop local!