The first thing on the agenda is to adjust your expectations by reminding yourself that the gift doesn't have to be perfect. You want to get them something that they will actually enjoy, but if you don't know much about them, that can be a tall order. So instead ask yourself the following two questions:
1. Is this something they won't mind getting?
2. Is there some way to connect this item back to something they like?
Obviously you would like the answer to both questions to be yes. The second question may seem difficult to answer, but with the hints that follow in this post you will be connect pretty much any generic gift back to what little you know about the person. With only a little bit of effort, you will be able to make a generic gift seem thoughtful.
The first item on this year's gift guide is the LAQA & Co. Lil' Lip Duo gift set. I have it in the Bossy Boots & Ring of Fire color option, but I think either would work equally well. While nailpolish and fancy bath products are often used for generic gifts, few people give makeup. This may be because it can seem like a very personal preference, but I think a fun lip color can be appreciated by a wide range of women. The key is in how you frame the gift and that is where your note on the gift tag comes in. Try to tie the lipstick to a fun event that you know the recipient has planned. For a co-worker that has been talking about her New Year's Eve plans, you can write, "Hope this helps you feel extra glamorous during the holiday season! Can't wait to see photos of your New Year's Eve outfit!"
Gift sets are popular around the holidays and what could be easier than a tea or coffee basket? I like this one from Stash Tea because all you need to do is add water. It's great for college students or coworkers because they can use it in their dorm room or cubicle without any extra effort. Personally I love tea and I also love collecting mugs more than the average person, so I would be pretty thrilled to receive this set even without a personalized note attached. However, since not everyone shares my enthusiasm, it may seem a little generic. The first thing is to ensure that the recipient actually likes tea (or coffee or whatever food and beverage related gift set you decide to go with). Once that has been ascertained, try to connect it to a specific event in that person's life. If your neighbor is hosting a lot of family during the holidays, your note might read, "Open this when you need a break from entertaining this season." For your child's teacher you might write, "To help you stay warm and relaxed on a snowy day."
Books can be difficult to buy for people you don't know very well, so I wavered on whether or not to include this. What finally swayed me is that recently I have found that there are lots of people who have not heard of this absolutely amazing book. This is the perfect winter book because you are spending a lot of time indoors and this book is all about the interesting things that make our homes the way they are. There are stories about historical figures, inventions (both lauded and not), and events that all have affected how our homes look and how we live in them. It may seem like this book is only a good option for your friend who is super competitive at trivia night, but I think this fascinating read should be on everyone's bookshelf.
If you are looking for a gift for someone who recently bought a house (or even just moved into a new apartment), you can add a gift tag to this book that says, "Enjoy your new home! Hopefully this book will help you look at it from a new perspective." For a more all-purpose sentiment, this can be used: "What better time to read a book about homes than when the cold weather keeps you stuck inside? Hope this helps to keep your cabin fever at bay." Of the gift ideas in this post, At Home is the best option if you are participating in a blind gift swap. It is relevant to most everyone so you don't have to take personal tastes into account.
Journals are often a go-to gift and Paperblanks makes ones that are absolutely gorgeous. Since this gift can be very generic, it is best when you can connect it back to one of the recipient's interests. Many hobbies require some amount of writing or note taking, so this can be a way to show that you've been paying attention to them without struggling to find something that is actually related to their interests.
For example, the gift tag for an aspiring writer might read, "Even the rough draft of your novel should have a beautiful cover." If your friend loves to cook and is always dreaming up new creations, you could say, "For all the recipes you love and the ones that you haven't yet created." Perhaps your coworker is planning a fabulous trip so you can frame this as a travel log: "I hope you'll keep track of your fun adventures in Europe so that you can tell me all about them when you get home!" By giving the journal a purpose, it feels personalized instead of just blank pages and a pretty cover.
What are your favorite gifts to give people you don't know very well? Share your thoughts in comments!