A Holiday Gift Guide for Hopeless Gift-Givers

Alright, we wouldn’t call this last-minute shopping quite yet. But Christmas Eve is one week away—then, then we get to call it last minute shopping. If your list of gifts to buy is just as long as it was in October, you have a date with the mall. You can’t avoid it much longer—and the parking lot only gets worse.

If inspiration is all you need to get out of your slippers and into the car, sit right there. (For as long as it takes to read this, at least.) We put together a gift-giving guide for everyone on your list.

Significant Other
Don’t panic. It’s too early to panic. If you’re still without a gift for your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse, allow yourself some brainstorming time. Don’t hit the store without a plan or your gift is likely to come up short. Reconsider the past year and the special memories you’ve made together. For example, come up with a gift to remind your spouse of the wonderful summer vacation you took. (You remember. The one where you got that terrible sunburn on the tops of your feet. That vacation.)

Or give your significant other something to help them start a new hobby. Spring for a guitar if your boyfriend loves to sing, or a tennis racket for your athletic boyfriend. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and you can learn something new together.

She’s helped you through career crises, disappointing breakups and introduced you to your significant other (see above). She always seems to know just what to get you—but maybe that’s part of the problem. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to match others’ always surprising and always perfect present ideas. Some people have a knack for giving gifts and others don’t. (And since you’re reading this post it’s safe to say you don’t have it).

Buy your friend something he or she would never buy for themselves. Cashmere-lined gloves, a monogrammed cigar cutter or a first edition of their favorite book would suit most people’s best friends. Bake their favorite dessert if your budget’s low.

Parents or In-Laws (DumDumDUMMM)
It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Buying a present for your mother-in-law is naturally nerve wrecking. Just don’t buy your in-laws clothing—you may choose an incorrect size and wind up offending them.

Instead, give everyday items with an updated twist. Give your mom and mother-in-law luxurious hand cream, bath soaps or coffee. Dad and your father-in-law would probably love fine whiskey, DVDs or sports memorabilia.

Finally, remember that a gift card is a safe bet for absolutely everyone on your list. You may not like giving them, but they’re always welcome presents. They’re practical, promise future fun and always fit.

And here’s our favorite trick: give your friends and family experiences instead of stuff. Buy them a tickets or a restaurant gift card so you can enjoy your present together.