Some people are just impossible to shop for. Maybe they already have everything, or maybe they have everything they need.
I take minimalism to new heights, and it drives my family crazy come Christmastime. Bad news for my family; good news for you. That makes me the perfect person to walk you through this.
It’s true that hard-to-shop-for people require some extra creativity during gift-giving season. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to buy outstanding gifts for even the most challenging recipients.
Unique Gift Ideas for Someone Who Has Everything
Forget the usual humdrum gifts. These gift ideas are customizable to your budget and recipient’s hobbies and interests. This time around, give them something they actually want, no matter their age or how difficult they are to shop for.
1. An Educational Project Subscription
There are loads of education projects available on the internet if you’d like to try your hand at DIY. But those without the time nor inclination can sign up for a one-time box or subscription service.
For example, KiwiCo is a parent- and kid-friendly subscription service that delivers enriching art and science projects right to your door each month. Simply choose an age group-based project line, pick your plan, and expect the first crate within days. You can pause or cancel anytime.
Project lines range from Panda (0 to 24 months) and Kiwi (2 to 4 years) all the way up to Eureka (12 to 100 years) and Maker (14 to 100 years). And if you don’t want a monthly commitment, you can order a one-off project crate.
2. A Fun Membership or Subscription
You can give your loved one access to a year’s worth of entertainment through a video streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or Amazon Prime Video. If they’re a book or music lover, give them an audiobook service like Audible, or a music service like Spotify or Sirius XM.
For friends with kids, opt for a membership to a local children’s museum, kid-centered gymnasium, zoo, or aquarium. Really, you can give a membership to anything from Costco to AAA to magazine subscriptions.
A subscription box membership is an irresistible gift that keeps on giving. My Subscription Addiction is the place to find boxes for just about any interest and budget.
Not sure where to start? Choose a club or association that would mean something to your recipient, and then contact them to ask if they offer gift memberships for purchase. Every time the recipient accesses their membership benefits, they’ll think of you.
3. A Virtual Assistant
Money is a renewable resource, but time is not.
A virtual assistant can help take a wide range of chores off your recipient’s plate: repetitive work tasks, contacting customer service departments, managing their inbox, bookkeeping, scheduling, travel planning — the list goes on.
A VA can give them back their time by doing whatever scutwork your recipient was planning to do next Saturday morning while the kids were watching cartoons. They can then spend it with their family, doing their favorite hobby, or just catching up on much-needed sleep.
Best of all, once they get over the initial awkwardness of delegating their personal chores to a virtual assistant, they can start regaining time for themselves every single week by continuing to work with their VA.
BELAY and WoodBows are full-service VA placement companies, or you can hire a virtual assistant directly through a freelance website like Fiverr or Upwork. It’s the perfect last-minute gift to buy and print instantly.
4. An Experience
Those of us who have enough stuff don’t need (or want) another knickknack to clutter up our living rooms or another toy to play with for a day or two and then set aside.
Think beyond the physical and give an experience instead. When you prepay for an event or experience, your loved one gets a fun adventure to remember and possibly gains new skills and memories — all of which are much more valuable than a new iPhone speaker or pair of shoes. It’s also a more thoughtful gift, showing you took the time to plan something for them rather than buying them another bland gift set.
Experience gifts can include:
Check out Groupon and LivingSocial for experience-based gifts for any budget. If you’ve got something specific in mind, looking for a site dedicated to those experiences opens up a world of possibilities. For example, Traveling Spoon has delectable food experiences and Context Travel lets you in on one-of-a-kind local-led walking tours in your favorite cities. And for some people, that last one can be a fun way to see the city where you live in a whole new way, through someone else’s eyes.
5. Gift Cards
Some people think gift cards are a cop-out, but consider this: People who have everything clearly know what they want. Why force a gift on them now? With a gift card, they can treat themselves whenever they’re ready.
There’s no shame in buying someone a gift card or gift certificate for their favorite store or activity. It shows you pay attention to their preferences while acknowledging they prefer to shop for themselves. Whether it’s for their favorite clothing store or a new restaurant, a gift card tells the recipient the gift is truly about them and not your need to show off your creativity.
Stop thinking about the kind of gift you’d rather give, and buy them the kind of gift they’d rather receive.
6. A Night Out
Everyone needs a night out sometimes — single people, coupled people, rather-be-with-their-pet people. There are only so many nights in a row you can stay in and watch Netflix.
Plan a date night or night out for your recipient, from start to finish. It could include a dinner reservation and gift card, pre- or post-dinner cocktails at a swanky bar, movie tickets, theater or sporting event tickets, transportation, even tickets to a fundraiser gala. The important point is you do all the logistical planning for them so all they have to do is gussy themselves up and stroll out the door.
Finally, if your recipient has young children, don’t forget to plan for babysitting with someone they already know and trust. Hint, hint.
7. Babysitter Service
Parents of young children need nights — and days — out more than anyone. Give them the gift of breathing room and time to just worry about themselves for once. You can hire a sitter you know and trust or go through a service like Sittercity.com or Care.com.
Just remember that many parents feel anxious about leaving their kids with anyone other than sitters they’ve used before. So you may need to do a little sleuthing to find those people and arrange their services. Or you can offer your own services.
Even if you don’t plan anything else for their day or night out, hiring a sitter can give your loved one the excuse they were looking for to get out of the house for some me-time.
8. Home Cleaning Service
The last thing most of us want to do when we’re not working is scrub our toilets and shower tiles. A home cleaning service offers one more option for helping your recipient reclaim lost time.
You can hire a local or nationwide cleaning service. Your recipient gets a cleaner home, a happier relationship, and their weekend back to spend however they like. Win, win, win.
9. Meal Kit Delivery Service
Meal kit delivery services provide all the ingredients for meals with easy-to-follow recipes. They’re convenient, they’re easy, they save trips to the grocery store, and they can help dieters make healthier food choices without the headache of calorie-counting apps.
Due to their meteoric rise in popularity, you have plenty of meal kit delivery services to choose from, from Hello Fresh to Blue Apron to Hungryroot.
10. Cooking Classes
Alternatively, some people would cook more at home if they felt more confident in the kitchen.
Cooking classes from places like Sur La Table cover a wide range of cooking skills. They cover basics like meal prep and how to use kitchen utensils. For intermediate cooks, there are lessons on how to cook quickly and efficiently with appliances like pressure cookers and air fryers. Advanced cooks to opt for lessons like pairing wines with food.
Or look for a specialty class, such as King Arthur Baking’s school, where they have a class or three almost every day in subjects like pizza, bread-making, and cookies.
Besides being a fun experience gift for foodies, cooking classes can truly transform your recipient’s and their family’s lives. I confess I wish someone had given my mother a cooking class or two when I was growing up.
11. A Personalized Gift
When someone already has everything, a personal touch can mean the difference between just another gift and something truly meaningful. When you order something engraved, embroidered, or otherwise designed specifically for your recipient, you show you’ve put real thought and effort into finding the perfect gift.
Personalized gifts don’t need to be flashy or expensive. A few ideas to get your creativity flowing include:
- Photo socks
- A keychain with important dates (such as anniversaries or birthdays) listed on it
- A leather journal with an embossed name or message
- Personalized jewelry
- An engraved flask
- Engraved wine glasses
- A personalized wooden cutting board
12. Name a Star After Them
This gift idea nears the red zone between sweet and hokey. Yet you’d be surprised how many people find it romantic. After all, who doesn’t love the idea of being immortalized?
Several services enable you to exclusively name stars after your loved ones. Check out the Online Star Register and CosmoNova for two reputable options.
Be prepared to break out a star map and a telescope to point out the exact star to your recipient. Mark the occasion with a glass of Champagne to up the romance factor.
13. A Bluetooth Record Player
For the audiophile or hipster on your gift list, it’s hard to go wrong with a vintage vinyl player.
Modern record players make a fun gift for people who enjoy gadgets. You can opt for a vintage-style Bluetooth turntable or go a little higher-end with a fully automatic modern record player. The choice is yours.
Add to the gift by including a vinyl version of your recipient’s favorite album.
14. Noise-Canceling Headphones
One Christmas, I splurged and bought myself a pair of quality noise-canceling headphones.
I don’t know how I lived without them in the loud shared office where I work. It’s like wrapping myself in my own personal sound bubble. Sometimes, I turn them on with no music playing just to enjoy the relative silence.
And the good news is you can buy noise-canceling headphones on any budget.
15. A Scratch Map
My wife is an international educator, as are most of our friends overseas. We all love international travel, and most of us keep scratch maps to visually track our journeys.
Like scratch-off lottery tickets, scratch maps come with all countries coated with silver or gold scratch ink. As you visit a country, you scratch it off the map. For the travel lover on your list, it makes a fun and inexpensive gift.
I like a vintage-looking scratch map that looks like it fell off a museum’s shelf. Scratch maps that distinguish between states in countries like the US, Brazil, and China help you be more specific about your travels.
You can’t go wrong with a scratch map as one of the best travel gifts for men or women.
16. Airline Tickets
If you have a more sizable budget, book airline tickets or a dream trip to help your wanderlust recipient widen their horizons and push past their comfort zone.
Unlike the sweater you gave them last year, it will make for a gift they’ll never forget. But this is one time you’ll want to involve them in the process to ensure the dates work for them and you book a destination they want to visit.
17. Travel Accommodations
If someone’s already handled the travel, book them one or more nights’ accommodations.
There are plenty of affordable alternatives to hotels, many of which prove far more authentic and memorable. I don’t remember most of the corporate hotel stays in my life, but I can remember every guest house in Eastern Europe, every bed and breakfast in South America, and every Airbnb stay in South Africa.
If your recipient would rather choose their accommodations themselves, you can buy gift cards for Airbnb or a major hotel chain.
18. A National Parks Pass
Give the rugged, outdoorsy recipient unlimited access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites, including national parks and forests.
An annual pass from the National Park Service is surprisingly affordable and makes particular sense for recipients who live near a park they love to visit. But it also serves as an excuse to travel the country and see more of its natural attractions.
For hikers, campers, backpackers, and nature lovers, an annual park pass makes a perfect gift.
19. A Lens Kit for Their Phone Camera
Mobile phone cameras have come a long way since the mid-2000s, rivaling the image quality of full digital cameras a decade ago. But they come with one major limitation: the lens. You can’t extend it to zoom, and you can’t swap it out for wide-angle shots.
Fortunately, you can now buy mobile phone lens kits. In seconds, you can snap on a zoom, wide-angle, or fish-eye lens to your phone’s camera. They’re tiny and light, making them perfect for travel photography when you’re traveling light.
Amazon has loads of lens kits to convert almost any smartphone into a versatile digital camera.
20. A 23andMe Genetic Test
You can learn a lot from a genetic test: useful insight such as health risks and predispositions, information about your family’s roots, and even amusing information such as celebrities with tenuous genetic links to you.
The person who already has all the stuff they want could still use a glimpse into their family’s past through 23andMe’s genetic testing kit.
It may spark a deep curiosity about their roots and kick off a journey of discovery.
21. A New Way to Clean Up
Toilet paper is yesterday’s news. Bidets are the wave — or stream — of the future. And assuming they use it regularly, your lucky recipient’s new post-business cleaning system will almost certainly cost less in the long run than the traditional method.
That’s especially true if you invest in the Tushy Classic 3.0, a built-to-last bidet that’s an absolute steal at just over $100. If you think your friend will wholeheartedly embrace a new way to clean up down there, consider going all-out and outfitting them with a comprehensive Tushy system featuring the Tushy Classic 3.0, Tushy Stand and eco-friendly bamboo tissues, Tushy Brush, and Tushy Ottoman (for better-angled business).
Every week, it seems like a new study comes out with fresh data reaffirming the physical and emotional benefits of meditation. As someone who practices — or at least tries to practice — daily, I can attest that it helps you manage stress and maintain better control over your emotions and mindset.
But not everyone is ready to hop into a lotus position and start saying mantras. For many people, guided meditation helps them focus. The app stores overflow with guided meditation apps, but few can rival Headspace.
Headspace offers a wide range of guided meditation sessions at varying lengths. They also offer extras like courses, progress tracking, and exercise.
23. A Kitchen Herb Garden
There’s nothing better than fresh herbs in your cooking. But as an apartment dweller, I can’t just nip out back to pluck some fresh basil or thyme from my garden. And even if I had a backyard, I doubt I’d have the time to keep a proper herb garden.
The solution: a miniature kitchen herb garden. If your recipient doesn’t have the proper window orientation for natural light or doesn’t have the attention span to water herbs every day, they can use a small indoor garden kit that provides timed light and watering on automation. You can start them off with a down and dirty DIY herb garden kit or opt for a fully automated hydroponic model.
24. Food & Drink
Nowadays, I mostly give my family and friends consumables. They just don’t want more stuff. So I give upscale cheeses, wine, beer, cigars, and homemade foods. Choose consumable gifts well, and you know they’ll be appreciated and won’t go to waste.
25. A Brewing Kit
Give someone a beer, and you sate them for a day. Teach them how to make their own beer, and you sate them for life.
When you brew your own beer, you get to make fun and creative styles that suit your palette, whether that’s honey red ales, mouth-puckering sours, or vanilla bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts.
Buy your recipient a beginner brewing kit if they’ve never brewed before, and give them the gift of a new hobby.
26. Stocks, Shares, or Crowdfunding Investments
Everyone needs investments if they ever hope to retire. For the person who has everything, consider the gift of an appreciating or passive income-producing asset.
That could include shares of individual stocks or exchange-traded funds, real estate investment trusts, or even real estate crowdfunding investments through Fundrise. If they’re new to investing and just need a bit of help, start them off with their own brokerage account by sitting down with them in person to help them open one with a company like SoFi Invest or Robinhood. Then, show them how buy their first shares.
27. A Charitable Donation
Donating to charity in lieu of a gift has come a long way in recent years thanks to services like GoFundMe and IndieGogo.
The trick to making a thoughtful donation lies in a single question: What would your friend donate to if they were choosing the organization? A recipient passionate about cancer research would probably love a donation to the American Cancer Society or Make-A-Wish Foundation. You can also use crowdfunding sites to find causes that hit closer to home, like giving money for a friend’s medical treatment or giving to a veteran via the Wounded Warrior Project.
You can opt to take the charitable donation tax deduction on your own tax return by dedicating the gift in your recipient’s honor. Or you can make the gift legally in the recipient’s name so they get the tax deduction if they itemize their deductions.
Your recipient may not need anything for themselves, but there are plenty of people in this world who do. Check out JustGive.org for a list of organizations perfect for gift donations.
When someone already has everything they want and need, the real challenge lies in finding a way to show your love and appreciation rather than finding the perfect gift. After all, if it’s the thought that counts, then putting extra consideration into services, experiences, and gifts that show you care is much more valuable than the priciest present. So think outside the mall or gift baskets and come up with a gift that’s truly meaningful.