Damn Near Comprehensive Holidy Gift Guide — Websites, Baskets, and Other Ideas

December has come, there’s a nip in the air, trees are going up and halls are getting decked — the holidays are around the corner and it’s time to start buying some presents. But where to look? Where to START?

Here. Start here.

The Best of the Best

These are the websites that are tried and true winners — places to find unique, cute, high quality goods that’ll be sure to make your giftees smile.

Those Stores That Keep Sending You Catalogues

You throw their magazine into the recycling bin every month, but these are great places to look for gifts, especially for moms. Check out the home decor, dining, and gift sections for cute plates, vases, pillows, and knick knacks.


  • Harry and David
  • Mrs. Fields
  • Chocomize
    (lets you create a chocolate bar with a huge range of toppings, from potato chips to pistachio nuts to bacon or flakes of gold. Create chocolate bars with toppings that relate to your giftee’s interests and tastes. perfect stocking stuffer.)

DIY Ideas:

  • Coupon books filled with chores, activities, promises to spend time together. (One movie night, one ticket to a baseball game, one hour vacuuming, one conversation with cell phones turned off)
  • Any kind of artwork of something you’d think they would like. Are they into boats? Paint ‘em a boat. Hiking? Draw a forest. Are they weirdly into chickens? Do a multimedia collage on a small canvas that looks roughly like a rooster. It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible — the point is, you took the time to create something for some them. You could staple together notebook paper with a card stock cover and make journals, to do lists, calendars — moms especially eat that stuff up.
  • Recipe jars are great for this, just fill a mason jar with dry ingredients for soup or cookies, attack the recipe to the jar, and you have a meal and a present in one. Here’s a big list of DIY recipes, from cookie mixes to bath salts.

Gift Basket Ideas

Gift baskets are a tried and true tradition for a reason—pick a theme your giftee will love, throw everything into a cute basket with some crinkle paper, slap on a bow, and you look all thoughtful.

Reader basket:

Writer Basket:

Couch Potato Basket:

Harry Potter Basket:

(because please, we’d all love one)

Final Tips to Consider

It’s about them, not you. No one likes being handed a gift and told “I’m sorry, it sucks, I’m so bad at buying presents.” Giving someone a gift isn’t about you and your insecurities — it’s about showing another person you took time out of your day to think about them.

Instead of one big thing, try a hodgepodge of little things. Put them all in a basket or stocking. (Target usually has small stockings for cheap.) You don’t have to spend a lot on each item, but make everything mean something to the person or representative of your friendship… This is also a great way to hit a lot of areas of a person’s personality.

No one wants a generic gift. My grandma is known for shopping at Bealls every year and giving every grandkid the same pair of slippers, or a lotion set, or something that was probably very cheap but has nothing to do with them as an individual. Listen to people (a task which requires year-long effort), learn their personality, their interests, their style. People tell you who they are with every conversation, you just have to stop thinking about yourself long enough to pay attention.

But maybe you need to give a gift to someone and absolutely, positively, regretfully but alas unquestionably know nothing about them. If all else fails, if you can’t think of anything, there are ways to give generic gifts and mask the fact that they’re generic. Try a fancy mug from Anthropologie coupled with a chocolate spoon or a packet of hot cocoa mix; or a box of chocolates; or a $15 gift card to Target. Throw on some fancy wrapping paper or a cute bag, and hope for the best!

Anyway, I hope this provided someone with a little gift-giving inspiration. Good luck!

What are your favorite websites for buying gifts? Leave a comment!


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