Actually Attainable and Useful Christmas Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Couple outside holding gifts
The holidays are upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t started your Christmas shopping. (I really hope you’re like me; I don’t want to be alone in this.)

I love gift-giving, but I absolutely hate coming up with creative, heartfelt, appropriate and useful gifts for everyone on my list. Year. After. Year. Ugh.

I want to be the Yoda of shopping — able to anticipate everyone’s needs (Let’s be serious: wants) and then — minus the wrinkly skin and irritating speech cadence — miraculously appear with the perfect gifts to meet them. And because I’m demanding, I want to be able to do this without enduring long lines, angry salespeople, anything resembling a mall, and without having to Dave Ramsey myself out of consumer debt in 2019. This is a tall order.

As such, I enlisted the expertise of friends, relatives and (why not?) complete strangers to put together a list of killer gift ideas for some of the most common categories of peeps you’ll be shopping for this year. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’ll get you rolling. These are suggestions from real people — not the Real Housewives — including kids, teens, moms and dads, grannies and everyone in between. And the best part? None of these gifts will break the bank or (at least intentionally) end up in the trash. Here goes.

Kids

Overall, kids are pretty easy to shop for, but there are definitely some things that are bigger winners than others. Like, don’t get kids clothes. That’s like getting a fruit basket. Meh. And you’ll be their parents’ worst nightmare if you get them a toy that’s easily broken, loud, has more than 10 pieces (most moms say “2” here), is too trendy or skanky, or will cause them to fight with their brother or sister. That said, some toys are classics and rise above the fray, including:

  • Baby dolls
  • Cars/trucks
  • Action figures
  • Board games
  • Books (start a kid on a favorite classic series like The Chronicles of Narnia, Nancy Drew Mysteries or Little House on the Prairie)
  • Don’t forget Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey

Other fan favorites:

  • Legos
  • Nerf guns
  • Lightsabers (see Yoda, above)
  • Personalized anything (hat, pillowcase, blanket, tote bag for special treasures)
  • Wallet or purse with crisp dollar bills totaling the child’s age
  • A coupon for a special experience with you, like a trip to an amusement park, museum or the dollar store (quality time!)

Teens

Remember how I said kids are easy to shop for? In contrast, teens aren’t. Well, yes and no. Teens smell “lame” a mile away; you can’t pull anything over on them. But even if they’re specific in their tastes, teens’ tastes are pretty simple (thank you, Lord). Here are some great ideas for teens:

  • Gift cards (especially Amazon, iTunes, Xbox or other gaming systems, Starbucks, etc.)
  • Movie tickets/gift card (maybe with a bit of extra $ loaded on there for popcorn and soda)
  • Apparel from favorite sports team, music artist or university
  • Hoodie (brand name may or may not be essential here, depending on teen)
  • Personalized or unique phone case
  • Mani/pedi
  • Echo Dot or Google Home Mini
  • A coupon for a special experience with you, like a trip to an amusement park, concert, dinner and a movie, escape room, etc. Or what about a thrift store shopping spree? You pick a dollar limit (like $25 or whatev) and you go and shop together. They get to buy as many things as they can for $25. (Oh my word, I just thought of this idea and I’m so proud of myself right now.)
  • Teen girls will love a subscription to Brio magazine

Your Parents

Of course the biggest gift your parents want is for you to succeed in life. Wonderful. In the meantime, you’d better get shopping. In truth, your parents probably have a lot of stuff, and don’t really want more. You can only wear so many sweaters and display so many random collectibles, people. Give your parents something they don’t know they need or want, like:

  • A gift card for a new restaurant in town (with the caveat that you’ll go with them and listen to any career, financial or dating advice they are dying to dispense)
  • A family photo session (or do a sesh with your sibs and frame the best shot for your folks)
  • A digital frame pre-loaded with family photos from throughout the year
  • Transfer old home movies and family videos to digital
  • DNA Kit
  • An overnight at a fun bed and breakfast within driving distance (this is where Groupon and Living Social are your friends)
  • Registration for a cool class or workshop they can do together
  • A list of the top 10 things you appreciate about them or have learned from them
  • Bonus idea from a mom of young adults: a date on the calendar that you will officially have all your stuff (furniture, old memorabilia and sports equipment, books, papers and other junk) out of their basement, attic, guest room, whatever. Oh, things just got real…

Grandparents

Similar to parents, but here are a few additional ideas:

  • Personalized coupon book for helpful services like yard work, setting up or managing social media profiles, uploading and organizing digital photos and files, breakfast or dinner with you once a month, etc.
  • Family photo printed on canvas
  • Digital playlist of their favorite songs, loaded onto their devices
  • Photo book (Shutterfly, etc.) of a recent time you were all together (vacation, holiday, family reunion)
  • Netflix subscription (then show them how to use it and access all those documentaries)
  • A list of the top 10 things you most admire about them

Family Gifts

Get it done, all in one. These are great gifts for an entire family:

  • Board games
  • Group experience (bowling, escape room, laser tag)
  • Family/annual pass to a local zoo or museum
  • Overnight stay at a hotel with an indoor pool/water park
  • At-home movie night (gift basket including family-friendly DVD or on-demand movie, popcorn, candy, sodas)
  • Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre

Men (General) and Boyfriends

For the tough-to-buy-for brothers, brothers-in-law, uncles, friends and other men in your life:

  • Locally-roasted coffee and a handmade (pottery or similar) mug
  • YETI drinkware because #hipster
  • Gift card to Audible or a bookstore for their favorite book
  • A vintage clothing accessory like a belt, watch band, hat, messenger bag
  • Good quality wallet
  • Membership to something like the Dollar Shave Club or Harry’s
  • Subscription to a hobby-related magazine (personal investing, cars, woodworking, gaming)
  • Experience like a trip to a shooting range, golf or driving range, sporting event, concert
  • Unique food like artisan cheese, sausage, roasted/flavored nuts, handmade BBQ rubs and sauces (I’m amazed at how many dudes suggested this. Men love their food.)
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • Gift cards. Do not be ashamed to get a guy a gift card to his favorite store, restaurant or online merchant. From man: “Gift cards rule.”

In addition to the above, a few ideas for your BF (you can also ask his brother or best friend for ideas):

  • Favorite cologne
  • A night doing something fun with his buddies to show you support quality bro time (see “Experiences” above)
  • Framed picture or digital frame with photos loaded
  • A mug or picture symbolizing your first date
  • Take his dog for a grooming or his car to get washed/detailed
  • A high-quality pillow
  • Pedicure (He’ll balk until his feet are massaged…then he’ll be hooked.) Get yours done, too, then take him out for dessert afterward.
  • A subscription box
  • Real mistletoe 🙂

Women (General) and Girlfriends

For the ladies, because if you get them a Precious Moments figurine or something with cats on it, they will actually kill you.

  • Cool, handcrafted (this is key…see local craft fairs or Etsy) stuff like soaps, sugar scrubs, locally-sourced jams or honey
  • Subscription to a makeup sample club like Birchbox, Ipsy or Boxycharm
  • Massage or facial
  • Coupon for a car wash or oil change
  • High quality essential oils/diffusers in combinations like “sleep” or “stress relief”
  • Fragrance sampler
  • A soft blanket or throw
  • Coffee table book on travel or another favorite topic
  • A coupon for you to go over to her place and clean, organize, fix something, etc.

Men, here are ideas specifically for your GF, but feel free to improvise. Also, get gifts commensurate to the level of your relationship. Creepers need not apply. And please, no matching tattoos.

  • Favorite perfume
  • Funky handmade bracelet or necklace
  • Charm bracelet with something that signifies the two of you
  • Customized music playlist
  • Small canvas photo of you both
  • Name a star after her
  • Date-night experience of something she loves like pottery painting, sleigh ride, dance lessons, comedy club
  • A puppy or kitten (Definitely do recon on this idea first or it could spell disaster)

Finally, don’t forget cool stuff in the Boundless store, especially for the fellow single, young adult or Boundless fan in your life.

What did we miss? What have you given or received in the past that was a hit? Comment below and let’s help each other out. Happy shopping, everyone!

Copyright 2018 Lisa Anderson. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lisa Anderson

Lisa Anderson is the director of Boundless and young adults at Focus on the Family and hosts The Boundless Show, a national radio program and podcast. She loves connecting with single young adults and strategizing how to better equip them for life, relationships and a faith that goes the distance; she does not love managing budgets or signing contracts, but realizes that’s part of her job, too. Lisa can often be heard at conferences and on radio and TV, getting worked up about dating, relationships, faith and hip-hop. She grew up in San Jose, California, is a graduate of Trinity International University in Chicago, and spent a good chunk of her life in media relations before joining Boundless. She runs to counterbalance her love of pastries and chicken tikka masala, and often quotes her mom, who’s known to say outrageous things. She’s the author of The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan for Pursuing Marriage with Purpose (David C. Cook). Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaCAnderson.