Buying gifts for someone you don’t know very well can be a tricky business. Not only is it hard to do it right, it’s too easy to do wrong! You also risk turning a gesture of goodwill into an inconvenience or burden. “As professional organizers, one of the most common items we encounter in clients’ homes are unwanted gifts that our clients can’t get rid of because they feel guilty,” says Ann Lightfoot and Kate Pawlowski, authors of the book “Love Again your home,” said.
“Of course, it’s the ideas that count,” Lightfoot and Palovsky said, “but we recommend giving gifts that run out or are easily passed on.” Their gift guide motto is “Eat, Drink, Burn, Spend,” Because gifts that fall into these categories, once used, do not have to be stored.
Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of the Palm Beach School of Etiquette, offers some generic and very modern advice when it comes to picking gifts for someone you don’t know very well. “If you don’t know someone well, try to find out some information about that person,” she said. “You can do this by asking mutual friends or family members or checking their social media pages (if they’re on a social site).”
Next, with the help of Lightfoot, Pawlowski, and Whitmore, we’ve got 29 gift ideas for those you don’t know very well, plus plenty of tips to avoid gift-giving mistakes. Need more ideas? Check out our favorite gift ideas for women, gift ideas for men, Nordstrom gifts, Amazon gifts, and practical gifts.
Plants and Household Goods
“Personal items like jewelry, perfume, and home decor are hard to do well,” Lightfoot and Pawlowski said, “so we recommend avoiding these types of items.” However, a classic or neutral style picture frame is an example of home or office decor. , it’s easy to make and makes a great gift for someone you don’t know well.
from $40 Nordstrom
While staying away from scented items entirely is one way to avoid gift-giving faux pas, you can certainly opt for high-end classics like Diptyque Baies candles. This is a gorgeous berry scented candle that makes a wonderful gift.
$68 $48 windowsill
Small plants, like this lovely Hoya heart, make a great gift for someone you don’t know well. The Sill is a great place to buy plants for people you don’t know very well because they have a gift finder that lets you sort by occasion and price.
from $30 Horty
Heart-shaped plants may not be suitable for some occasions or some people, but this silver dollar vine plant is a safe choice for almost anyone.
$22 The Home Depot
All types of plants make lovely gifts, but orchids in particular feel special and elegant. They can also be very expensive! Home Depot might not be the place you think of when you buy beautiful plants, but the brand has excellent options at nearly every price point.
“Avoid anything that’s too personal,” warns Whitmore, “like perfume, body lotion, makeup, or clothing.” One way to get personality without spoiling the gift is to use a monogrammed gift. Tip: If you don’t know the person’s full name, choose a monogram.
Whitmore recommends asking yourself these questions when picking a gift for someone you don’t know very well. “If you’ve met this person before, what do you notice about their home or office? Do they collect anything or have any special hobbies or interests?” For people displaying travel memorabilia or photos, a travel book is a Nice choice.
Practical and practical gift ideas
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20 dollars USD10 Amazon
A practical gift, especially one you can personally vouch for, is a smart way to be a thoughtful gift-giver, even if you don’t know the recipient very well. This cotton sleeping mask — our pick for the best overall sleeping mask — is one of those gifts people won’t know they need until they have it.
$22 $18 Amazon
As electronics proliferate, so do their accessories, and our bags sometimes can’t keep up with the clutter of wires and chargers. This tech accessory box solves that problem, which is fairly common at this point, making this practical gift a safe choice for just about anyone.
Another practical gift idea that works for a lot of people is this super smart car trash can. It has a lid to hide ugly contents and a compartment for paper towels or wipes, so it does double duty to keep the car clean when dirty hands need a quick clean.
$22 $18 Amazon
If someone on your gift list lives in a cold climate, or is a fan of cold weather events, a set of hand and toe warmers is truly a very welcome gift.
“Try to avoid ubiquitous items that take up space in your cupboards, such as cups or water bottles,” says Lightfoot and Pawlowski. “Most people have had enough!” Instead, think about these things and come up with a useful and thoughtful Gifts like this silicone tray that makes perfect ice cubes to use in a water bottle.
Sanitizing wipes are here to stay – and they’re getting a makeover! Typically, cleaning products don’t make great gifts, but advanced examples of this form could be a real hit, like this attractive hand sanitizer wipe dispenser kit.
This heavily scented hand sanitizer and lotion combo is another example of enhancing the everyday experience – in this case, hand washing – with a deluxe version of household items.
$24 $16 Hello
Wet bags are a very useful thing, and this version from super popular fitness brand Alo is a particularly cool form. Wet bags can be used to store sweaty workout gear, carry wet swimsuits, or deal with soiled kids clothes, they’re great for travel and a great gift idea for many needs and interests.
$30 rare commodity
For the uninitiated, delivering food and drinks is a smart option, but there are some risks to consider. “Never assume that food or wine is always the best gift,” Whitmore said. “Some people have allergies or dietary restrictions and can’t drink alcohol or eat sweets or nuts.” She recommends looking for gifts of specialty tea or coffee instead of alcohol to avoid potentially embarrassing moments.
$40 blue bottle coffee
Experts we spoke to all emphasized that coffee gifts are a great option for someone you don’t know well. Blue Bottle coffee products are a favorite of our employees, and the brand offers a variety of gift options, such as this cold brew coffee set.
$39 bean box
“Even if you don’t know someone very well, you probably still know they like coffee,” Lightfoot and Pawlowski said. “We like to serve small amounts of coffee, with a few different options in case your recipient is particularly interested in their morning brew.” They recommend this tasting box, which comes with four types of coffee and a delicious chocolate bar. “Coffee and Chocolate – a match made in heaven!”
$16 per pound golden belly
Whitmore says a “gift from your hometown or country” is a great gift for someone you don’t know well. Goldbelly’s are the perfect way to easily gift some hometown favorites like pistachio macaroons at Mike’s Pastry on Boston’s North Side (a favorite in the author’s hometown).
Food gifts rooted in one or more places are the start of a good conversation with someone you may not know well, when the occasion calls for a gift, like this set of 10 chocolates from around the world.
$30 harry and david
“Gift baskets with a variety of foods are generally a safe bet,” Lightfoot and Pawlowski said, “because even picky eaters are likely to find something they like. They’re great for families because everyone in the family feels Be Inclusive. We’ve been buying holiday gift baskets from Harry & David for years and have never been disappointed!”
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When picking a gift for someone you don’t know very well, don’t overlook the wow factor that packaging can bring to the occasion. This set of eight pink truffles comes in a pretty pink and gold box that’s a gift in itself.
$30 Food 52
Chocolate gifts come in many forms, including this cheeky “Chocolate of the Day” box of 30 chocolates. Choose from their four flavors (Pink Sea Salt, 100% Cocoa, Oat Milk or Coconut Milk) or a mixed set that includes all four.
$11 $9 Amazon
Whitmore came up with a really clever food gift idea: pet treats! If you know the person has a dog, cat or other beloved pet, there’s something for their animal companion sure to put a smile on their face!
From $31 ebay
Even in an increasingly digital world, paper products can make a great gift, especially since there are so many styles to choose from. For someone younger or more creative, we love this colorful Junque Journal with lines, dashes, and white space because it’s a stunning interpretation of old standards.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with old standards when picking a journal for the uninitiated, like this classic Moleskine notebook, available in 22 colors, including basic black.
$35 $28 paper source
Personalized stationery may seem like a true luxury, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. This set of five notepads comes in three different sizes and can be monogrammed in one if you don’t know the recipient’s full name and monogram.
$14 am ebay
While most of our communications are done electronically these days, handwritten notes are sometimes required, or when you need a card as a gift. A small set of blank note cards is a very useful gift and offers an almost endless choice in patterns and styles, just like these dragons.
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“In some cases,” Lightfoot and Pawlowski said, “gift cards might not be popular. But the truth is, if you want to give a gift to someone you don’t know very well, a gift card might be the best fit. A thoughtful choice.” They recommend making gift cards more personal by purchasing them from local businesses such as restaurants, independent bookstores, or gift shops. Personalized card holders are a great way to display gift cards.