Gifts for People You Don’t Know (Very Well)

December 07, 2015

Gifts for People You Don’t Know (Very Well)


So your uncle is coming for Christmas and he’s bringing his new wife. This is your first time meeting her, so you don’t know much (or anything) about her personality, interests, or preferences. Of course, you’ll want to give her a gift—but what?

It can be a challenging prospect to choose a gift for someone you don’t know, but it’s not something that can’t be overcome. While you might not be able to choose a gift that’s perfectly tailored to the recipient’s personality, you can choose a gift that will show your guests that you care and would like to know them better. Let’s look at some strategies.

Go Generic

Maybe you don’t know if your new Aunt Dawn is a fan of Pyrex® or prefers Rubbermaid®, but that’s OK, because you’re always safe choosing a generic food-related gift. After all, everyone eats, and kitchen accessories always make a sensible choice. Need ideas? Think measuring cups, mixing bowls, or handy gadgets that make cooking prep a breeze.

Is your guest technologically minded?  An avid gardener with a green thumb? Who knows? Before you begin wildly guessing and select a charging station or a fancy pair of garden gloves, try to think of something a bit more generic. Opt for a gift that anyone can appreciate—a clock, an attractive picture frame, or a set of organizational baskets.

Stay Small

Just because you’re giving a gift doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. There’s truth in the saying that “it’s the thought that counts,” and sometimes a small token is appreciated even more than a lavish gift. So, worry less about the cost of the item and focus on choosing something that will make your new family member feel welcomed and included.

Think Outside the (Gift) Box

Everyone has a set of go-to gifts that they tend to rely on for any gift-giving occasion. I’m a sucker for homemade soaps in natural scents (preferably made from goat’s milk), but I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. So while I would be thrilled to receive a package of handmade soaps, I can’t hand those out to everyone on my gift list and expect them all to feel the same. The point is to avoid falling into a gift-giving rut.

Instead, think creatively. Your “gift” doesn’t have to be in the form of a traditional gift-wrapped box with a big green bow; instead, offer the gift of your time, your skills, or your knowledge. Present your guest a gift card to a local coffee shop where the two of you can spend time getting to know each other better. Or provide a small photo album with the notation that your guest can fill the book with photos of times spent together as a family.  Thinking creatively can result in memorable gifts and good times spent together.

When in Doubt, Give Books

Tablets may have replaced books for some people, but reading is as popular as ever.  If you want to give a gift that’s generally pleasing to most individuals, you really can’t go wrong with a book.

Choosing the subject matter could be a little tricky when it’s someone you don’t know well, so you may have to rely on your personal experience. Did you read a book this year that truly resonated with you? Is there a book that’s a tried-and-true favorite that you read every year?  Give the gift of reading and share these gems with your guest.  Whether or not the book becomes your recipient’s favorite or sits on the shelf unread, they’ll still appreciate the fact that you shared your love and enthusiasm for a particular book.

Remember, even if you give someone a gift that isn’t their preferred item, your thoughtfulness and kindness are always appreciated, and the gesture of welcoming a new addition to the family—or a new face at the office, or a new neighbor on your block—will be remembered long after the gift itself has been forgotten.




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