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Holiday Gift Guide for Family and Friends

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Holiday Gift Guide

Prepare for any kind of holiday gift giving with these practical tips and ideas for gifts of all occasions.

Prepare for any kind of holiday gift giving with these practical tips and ideas for gifts of all occasions.

Holiday Gift Guide

Giving and receiving gifts is something that many people love to do, but what can you do when you need a gift at the last minute?

Be prepared all year long with a variety of gift ideas for the family and friends in your life. With a prepared list of gifts you could give, you won't need to go crazy trying to think of something last minute.

Buying Gifts

Be prepared for gift giving.

Preparing for Buying Gifts

1. Make a list of hobbies, interests, likes, and dislikes of anyone you may need to buy a gift for.

2. Organize the list, adding gift ideas that go along with the hobbies, interests, and likes.

3. Stock up on gifts as you find them throughout the year and store them in a safe, secret place.

4. Update your list and gift stash on a yearly basis.

Family Holiday Gift Ideas

You would think that you would know exactly what gifts to buy for family members, but often, they are the hardest people for which to buy gifts. Why? If we get the wrong gift, we may hear about it, especially from immediate family members. If we get them something they already have, we haven't been paying attention much.

Get a gift for family members by showing you care enough to know about them and their likes or dislikes. Here are some things to consider when buying gifts for family members:

  • Know their hobbies or interests. If you know what hobbies or interests they enjoy, you can make a list of items that compliment or go along with those hobbies or interests. For instance, if a family member enjoys Star Wars, you could get them anything from figurines, DVDs, games, clothing, accessories for electronics, etc.
  • Know what brands they prefer. If you're going to buy a clothing item or accessory, make note of what brands your family members purchase the most. Maybe the newest Vera Bradley bag or accessory would be an appropriate gift, or the latest clothing design from Calvin Klein.
  • Know their rate of returning items. Spend time finding a gift for a family member only to find out they have exchanged it for something else? Consider giving a gift card. It could be to a store, a website, a restaurant, or a general Visa/Mastercard gift card.

List of Gifts for Family

Example gift list for family members


Barbies: dolls, clothes, accessories

Legos: kits, sets, themed sets, books

The Office: DVDs, clothing, games

Princesses: dress up clothes, dolls, DVDs, games

The Phillies: trading cards, jersey, hats, baseballs, posters

Hunting: clothing, gear, gadgets

Pinks, purples, greens: shirts, pants, shoes, mittens, scarves, jewelry, nail polish

Reds, blues: clothing, shoes, bedding, iPod, school supplies

The Eagles: jerseys, tickets, hats, gear, license plate cover

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

Instead of buying an individual gift for each family member, you can also choose to make the gift something the whole family can enjoy together.

Here are some ideas:

  • Family vacation
  • Pet
  • Big screen/flat screen TV
  • New gaming console
  • Day trip/ road trip
  • Season tickets to sports games
  • Family membership to fitness club or YMCA
  • Tickets to a Broadway play
  • Subscription to a video or game rental service
  • Family dinner at an expensive restaurant

Best Friend Holiday Gift Ideas

Collectible items that show friendship

Collectible items that show friendship

Holiday Gift Ideas for Friends

While you can use the same tips for gift giving that you would use for family, you may want to think a bit more with friends when buying gifts. Here are two things to consider when buying gifts for friends:

  • What made you become friends? Did you meet in grade school or college? What brought you together: a similar hobby, a life changing event, sports team, or a job ? Giving a gift that brings back the memory of why you are friends can help keep that connection alive.
  • What is something that only you know your friend treasures? Being friends with someone often means that you know all of their secrets plus anything that will make them smile. Find that special gift that shows you were really paying attention all these years!

Photo Holiday Gift Ideas

Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids

Kids can surprisingly be difficult to buy a gift for since they change their likes and preferences so often. Depending on the age of the child, these changes in likes and preferences can change daily! Another thing that can make them change their minds in an instant are the constant barrage of toy or electronics commercials aimed at their young eyes, especially during the holiday season.

Here are a few things to consider when buying holiday gifts for kids:

  • Age appropriate gifts. Consider a child's age when buying a gift, especially toys, movies, or games. Try to find a gift that they will like and use for a few years to get your money's worth.
  • Popularity of gifts. Just because a gift is 'popular' doesn't necessarily mean it's a great gift for your child. Case in point: my son begged for a Zhu Zhu pet when they were popular. He did receive some as gifts, and quickly lost interest as they did nothing but make noise and bump into the furniture. In my view, it was wasted money.
  • Pets as gifts. Your child may beg for a puppy, but is he or she ready to take care of one? Consider carefully before buying a pet for your child.
  • Gifts of fun and gifts to challenge the brain. While most kids will beg for toys, it would be great to think of gifts that are both fun and challenge their brains to think. Puzzles, building sets, arts and crafts, or models to put together can be engaging and fun for kids of all ages.

New Wii U

Birthday Gift Ideas

For birthday gifts you can use all of the above tips, but here are some ideas for those special birthday milestones:

  • Gifts with the birthday age, such as frames, clothing, keepsakes, gag gifts, etc.
  • Gifts associated with the stage in life, such as car key chains for 16th birthday, a shot glass for 21st birthday, or an over-the-hill gift for anyone 50 or older.

30th Birthday Gifts

Creative Holiday Gift Ideas

If you're creative, you could think of or make some great gift ideas, such as:

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  • Gifts in a jar. Capture memories, prepare a cookie recipe, or give various candies in a jar.
  • Gifts in a basket. Fill a basket with a variety of small gift items based on a theme. For example, if the gift receiver likes to cook, fill a basket with kitchen gadgets, spices, and recipe cards.
  • Homemade gifts. If you're crafty or handy, you could make a variety of homemade gifts, such as candles, lip gloss, blankets, framed photos, paintings, doll clothes, ornaments, items made of recycled materials, etc.
  • Scrapbooks or photo albums. Create a scrapbook or a photo album filled with special memories.
  • Homemade coupons. Create a booklet of coupons, such as 'One free car wash', 'Dinner at your favorite restaurant' or 'Good for a hug'.
  • Photo with hand prints. Take a photo of your child and make hand prints using finger paints. Great for Mother's Day, Father's Day, or Grandparent's Day!

Personalized Holiday Gift Ideas

Who doesn't like having something with their name, initials, or sports number on it? Here are some gift items that can be personalized:

  • Blankets
  • Mugs
  • License/ car plates
  • Hats
  • T-shirts
  • Paper weights
  • Frames
  • Bracelets
  • Necklaces
  • Key chains
  • M&Ms
  • Decorative plates
  • Clocks
  • Figurines
  • Plaques
  • Jackets
  • Plush toys

Personalized Plaques

Fisher Price Nativity Set

My kids love their Fisher Price Nativity scene they received for Christmas.

My kids love their Fisher Price Nativity scene they received for Christmas.

Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is one of my favorite gift giving times of the year. Here are some Christmas related gifts to give to family and friends:

  • Christmas cookies
  • Nativity scene
  • Stockings
  • Christmas dishes
  • Advent calendars
  • Ornaments
  • Snowman kit
  • Candles
  • Homemade decorations
  • Christmas pajamas
  • Wreath
  • Christmas socks, shirts, hats
  • Christmas music cd

Giving Gifts

Have fun choosing the right gifts for the loved ones in your life!



Lara C. on September 07, 2015:

These are great tips. I like educational but fun gifts that last someone a few years :)

denise low on May 31, 2015:

Thank you for the great ideas. After a while I really do run out of ideas of giving gifts.

Marissa (author) from United States on February 07, 2013:

justateacher, thanks so much! I really enjoy trying to think of gift ideas for friends and family. :) Thanks for reading and commenting!

LaDena Campbell from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz... on February 06, 2013:

You have some great gift ideas! I always have trouble coming up with good ideas!

Marissa (author) from United States on December 04, 2012:

Sunshine625, there are a few people on my list who only get gift cards as well. It is just easier sometimes than to think of the perfect gift, only to have it returned. :)

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Marissa (author) from United States on December 04, 2012:

Rusticliving, I'm glad you found my ideas useful. I know how hard it can be for some people this time of year to think of gifts!

Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing! :)

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on December 03, 2012:

Great ideas! I prefer to give Gift Cards. You could never go wrong with one of those and no returns needed. Exchanges are always a possibility.

Liz Rayen from California on December 03, 2012:

Hi Marissa! I really enjoyed this hub. You present a lot of great ideas and suggestions. This hub is very useful and will come in handy not only at Christmas, but anytime. Thanks for sharing! Thumbs up and shared.♥

Marissa (author) from United States on November 06, 2012:

Sherry Hewins, I'm glad you agree! It drives my husband nuts sometimes when I'm trying to think of just the right gift for someone, but like you said, a good gift should connect in some way to your relationship with the family member or friend. Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 06, 2012:

You described a wonderful process for thinking of appropriate gifts for the special people in your life. A good gift should say something about your relationship with that person.

Marissa (author) from United States on November 02, 2012:

jenbeach21, thanks so much! The beach vacation jar started a long time ago between a few friends and I who would bring back a little piece of the places to which we traveled. :)

jenbeach21 from Orlando, FL on November 02, 2012:

Great ideas for the gift giving season. I love the beach vacation jar! Shared and voted up!

Marissa (author) from United States on November 02, 2012:

teaches12345, let's just say with my kids, husband, four siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, in-laws, etc. I've learned over the years how to make my shopping easier! ;) Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Dianna Mendez on November 01, 2012:

Your advice to know what people like and their preferences is very important. Good point! You have listed some very helpful ideas and ones that will make my shopping much easier.

Marissa (author) from United States on November 01, 2012:

LikaMarie, excellent idea to gift homemade (and I'm sure delicious!) food. Thanks for sharing, and for reading! :)

Marissa (author) from United States on November 01, 2012:

Ruchira, I hope this can help some holiday shoppers! Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

LikaMarie on October 29, 2012:

My hobby is to bake and can my own veggies, time permitting. I find that for holidays, a home baked pie or cookies to the non-bakers or freshly canned tomatoes to the cooks are awesome gifts as well.

For children, I like to spend time with them, and if they are able, to have them help me with the baking... So when either mom or grandpa gets the apple pie, it's a pretty neat thing.

Ruchira from United States on October 29, 2012:

Such a useful hub ESP with the season of giving coming along.

Voted up as useful.

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