Your 2015 Gift Giving Guide

Some people are just natural gift givers. They put little time or effort into it, but they still manage to find the perfect present for everyone on their list. It’s amazing…and annoying. The rest of us agonize over what to get our friends and family. We spend days, or weeks, or months trying to come up with something – anything – so we can finally cross their name off of our gift list.

See Also: 10 Christmas Gadgets That’ll Keep Giving All Year Round

Sometimes we are successful. And sometimes we are not. It’s hit and miss. Thankfully, we now have the internet and the collective wisdom of millions at our disposal. There’s a “holiday gift guide” for virtually every type of person. Just google it. Literally.

Techie friend? There’s a guide for that. Nerdy friend? There’s a guide for that, too. Girly-girls, tomboys, outdoor types, DIYers, athletes, writers, introverts, circus performers, mutant ninja turtles, mythological creatures, and bakers…they all have a list. All hail Google (and Bing)!

Let’s just assume for the moment that you don’t have kids, so gift ideas for children are not part of your recent search history (although, for what it’s worth, I’ve heard good things about Pie Face from Hasbro, and the toys from the new Star Wars film <gleeful giggle> coming out mid-December).

So, that still leaves roughly 37 groups that do require presents from you. For the sake of simplicity, let’s whittle that down, shall we?

Consider just coworkers, your boss, friends and family, and your significant other. Those are four rather important categories, n’est pas? You definitely need something (or more specifically, somethings) for your paramour. You should get something for your boss. And most offices at least have a Secret Santa thing going for the holidays. Friends and family? You can’t very well skip them. But what to get? What is a cool, hip, and trendy shopper like you to do?

Look no further. Presenting the 2015 Christmas gift guide for all your shopping needs.

1. Your Boss

Boss Gifts

Buying for the boss can be tricky. So much potential for screwing it up. And there are as many different types of boss as there are bosses themselves. Some are laidback and friendly. Others are strict and unapproachable. And what’s your budget? You probably want to spend at least a little more than you’d spend on a cubicle neighbour, but not so much that you need to take out a second mortgage. That said, the quality of a gift is in no way tied to its cost. You know your boss better than I do (unless we work together, I don’t know your boss obviously), so use your good judgment with these suggestions.

The Buddha Board retails for about $35, and it’s a nifty little knickknack for anyone’s desk. Riding on the coattails of the whole mindfulness movement, the board allows your boss to “paint” with nothing but water. As it dries, the design disappears and is ready to be used again. It supports the Zen idea of living in the moment, of appreciating now. Create and enjoy your art, but learn to let it go. Plus…it just looks cool.

Have a fun boss? He or she will love a personalized bobblehead. Yup. Because really, who wouldn’t? Select a body type from the available options (including work, sports, hobbies, fashion, and funny), submit a photo of your boss, and receive a custom and handmade creation. Most of them cost about $80, but they look fantastic.

Now, not every boss loves whisky. But if Mad Men taught us nothing else, we did learn that most of them, in fact, do love it. For the whisky-loving boss in your life, there’s Caskers Whiskey Club. It’s expensive, but if you can swing it, it’s sure to impress. Your boss will receive 3 full-sized bottles of whisky every three months, and you can subscribe for either 3, 6, or 12 months.

Finally, this idea is affordable, but still very cool and thoughtful. You can order a personalized business card holder made from either wood or leather. The creators can add their name, monogram, or other design to the front. Most are under $20.

2. Your Coworker(s)

christmas gift

Do you exchange gifts with everyone at the office, or just one randomly selected colleague for the annual Secret Santa? Either way, the obstacle is finding something interesting and useful, but not too pricey. You don’t want to be the cheapskate buying at the dollar store, though.

A staple of students and office workers alike, ramen noodles are cheap and easy. The Rapid Ramen Cooker from Urban Outfitters promises to cook them faster, more thoroughly, and with less mess. Just add water and microwave for 3 minutes. The cooker also functions as a wider, sturdier, and convenient bowl. And at only $10, you can afford to buy a few.

Everyone loves tea, right? Gourmet and loose leaf tea are all the rage these days, and with good reason. Flavourful and warming, a soothing cup of tea can make any day at the office better. Purchase a gift set at David’s Tea for only $28. No David’s in your neck of the woods? Just google “gourmet teas [city name]” to find your nearest equivalent.

If tea is not the thing, consider cookies. The Pacific Cookie Company, for example, offers a gift-wrapped dozen homemade cookies for $19.95. Select the box (yellow, purple, or red), the ribbon (five colours to choose from), and two varieties of cookie from a list of thirteen options. Done. They deliver anywhere in the US, but a simple “gourmet cookies [city name]” will find something similar if you live elsewhere.

Sometimes, we don’t have time to take an actual break and get to the lunchroom to eat (although every book on the subject says you should never eat at your desk…but I say “never say never”). For those situations, your colleagues will love the Magic Cook Bottle Cup Cooker (tricky to say, but easy to use). It’s ideal for soups, coffee, stews, and even frozen food. You add a little water in the bottom reservoir, toss in a disposable heating pack, and it quickly heats whatever is it you’re serving. No microwave or power required. Done, and done.

Finally, you probably have a few (i.e. all) coworkers who own a smartphone. And they probably use their smartphone to watch videos (cat and otherwise) at some point during the day. Enter a smartphone stand. It securely holds the device in either portrait or landscape mode, and allows for hands-free viewing. There are many, many different models available, with the majority coming in at under $20.

3. Your Significant Other

Gift-giving for your special someone can be fraught with danger. Make the wrong purchase, and you’ll never hear the end of it. You could go the tired, cliché route and buy jewelry for her and powertools for him. But don’t do that.

Instead, look to the growing and popular “of the month” trend. There’s something out there for everyone. And with 3, 6, or 12 month subscriptions, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.

For him, may we suggest either the Wet Shave Club (safety razor and blades, after shave balm, shaving soaps, and other shaving-related goodies), or the Craft Beer Club (USA and Canada options), or the Too Darn Hot Hot Sauce of the Month Club (2 bottles of liquid fire each month).

And for her, look to either Birchbox (a collection of five beauty products each month), For the Makers (homemade jewelry and accessory kits), Tea of the Month, or Brit Kits (DIY projects for fashion, home decor, and food).

Another great option for the coffee-lover lover is Citizen Bean, a fair-trade coffee of the month program.

And if your man likes tea, or your lady friend is a hot sauce freak, there’s no rule that says you can’t mix it up.

4. Friends & Family

Of course, there’s no one gift that will work for everyone. But, consider this: the best gifts for friends and family are useful items that people rarely if ever buy for themselves. The new iPad? Sure, that would be a great (and generous) present, but if someone wants it, they’ll eventually pony up the cash themselves.

In today’s hectic, crazy, digital world, the two things that people need (but might be unwilling to spend money on themselves) are greater online security, and better mental health.

Security online has many contributing factors, but one thing that nearly everyone should improve is the strength of their passwords. A password manager like Dashlane not only generates strong, random passwords for you, but it also stores and syncs them across multiple devices. You only ever need remember the one master password to access the service. Dashlane will automatically sign you in to the websites, platforms, and apps that you use everyday. It’s a fantastic product – and a worthwhile investment – but at $40/year, it’s more than a lot of people are willing to spend on a “luxury” like online security. Give them a year subscription as a gift. They’ll thank you for it, and once they use it, they’ll wonder how they ever lived without it.

On the mental health side of things, you need look no further than Calm. This service – available as both a website and apps for Android and iOS – combines beautiful, peaceful videos (mountain stream, ocean beach, quiet lake, and many others), soothing sounds of nature, and guided meditations. The premium service unlocks over 50 individual meditations, a 21-day mindfulness program, and a 7-day program for better sleep. You can set reminders, keep track of your progress, and experience all the benefits of meditation with little or no prior experience. The premium services does cost $40/year, though, so many people won’t try it. That’s where you come in, rescuing your friends and family with the gift of calm (both literally and figuratively).

Give them peace of mind online, and a mind at peace in the real world. You can’t put a price on that (although, yes you can…it’s $39.99 in this case).

See Also: 10 Professional Christmas Pitfalls

Gift buying shouldn’t necessarily be hard, but it shouldn’t necessarily be easy, either. It should take some time and effort. But start here with these suggestions, and keep that “some” to a minimum.

Merry Shopping!

What’s your fallback gift for your boss, colleague, friends, family, or significant other? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.