Gift-giving is usually one of my strong suits, but it doesn’t make it any less stressful or overwhelming. If one of my friends or loved ones ever mentions anything they want or like, I immediately write it in my notes app. If my list is empty, however, my mind tends to draw a blank and I forget the simplest things about them even if I’m very close and know everything about the person. I’ve learned to dial myself back in situations such as this and stick to the basics. In that case, I ask myself the vital questions:

  1. What are their hobbies?
  2. Do we ever spend time together doing something we both enjoy? If so, where and doing what?
  3. What are their passions?
  4. Have they ever mentioned any problems where solutions can be bought?
  5. Who are their favorite singers or bands?
  6. What do they need?

By the time I’ve answered all of these questions out loud, I will either decide on gift cards for places that we can go to together or I will travel through numerous websites. Most of the time, I go straight for Amazon, Etsy, TikTok or Pinterest. I may have something specific in mind or my scrolling will lead to something that is somehow perfect. In most of these sites, you can also put a price budget in the filters.

If the brainstorming and constant scrolling still aren’t providing you with any inspiration, here are some ideas I’ve gotten a few family members or friends in the past:

  1. For the “car” person:

My brother is a huge car guy, and since I barely remember the make and model of my own car, I had no idea what could be a good present for his dude-mobile. In an online video, I saw someone with a car air freshener that looks like a record player, and your chosen album covers are scented. Since he loves Mac Miller, I got him three of his vinyls with different scents. I thought this was such a personal gift, while also being affordable.

  1. For the “music” person:

Etsy is the perfect website when looking for artist merchandise. It is unlike any knickknack the celebrities team will sell and there is something for everyone. If your friend has a favorite artist, put them in the search bar and the results will do the rest for you. As a huge Harry Styles fan, with a friend who is an equally obsessed Harry Styles fan, there is an endless supply of items that can fit the needs of the person you are gifting. There are stickers, mugs, apparel, Christmas tree ornaments, jewelry, bookmarks, you name it. I got my friend a “Just Keep Driving” rearview mirror sticker as an ode to her favorite song; you may find that something similar is just what you need!

  1. For the “sentimental” person:

Homemade gifts are usually the best for a sentimental person. One of the easiest and also sweetest items you can give is a scrapbook or at least the start of one. Print out a bunch of pictures of you and the person and write all over it. You can include smaller things like if you kept movie stubs or sporting event tickets; anything of that sort. Once you hand it over, you’re gifting them the start of a journey they will inevitably complete!

  1. For the “fashionable” person:

Instead of buying your fashion icon friend a gift card to their favorite store, make them a fashion bundle. It’s almost like you’ll be their personal stylist. There are so many thrifting options nowadays that you can go into Goodwill or any other consignment store with a budget in mind and find a solid outfit (accessories and all) catered to their taste. Go home, wash them, tie it all together with some yarn and top it with a nice card.

In the end, you can never go wrong with a homemade gift basket. A lot of the time if I’m ever stuck, I find a cute bin from Target and fill it with goodies I think the person will enjoy (both a mix of personal and general items). You may find that giving it a theme will help too! A seasonal basket with a blanket, fuzzy socks, holiday films and a candle is perfect. The possibilities are endless, as you could also do something geared toward movies, candy or even self-care. 

It’s okay not to think outside of the box; honestly, any thought at all is what matters! You don’t have to  feel the need to go crazy with spending, and just offer the other person your appreciation and undivided attention. A memory with a loved one is more valuable than any material present, in my opinion.

About The Author

-- Senior I Executive Editor I English Creative Writing & Digital Journalism --

Brooke is a senior English Creative Writing and Digital Journalism major, with minors in Film, Television & Media and Editing & Publishing. She plans to pursue a career in screenwriting after graduation.

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