Buying a gift for someone you don’t know very well and having it land poorly can be as unpleasant as eating a kernel of burnt popcorn: frustrating, disappointing, and entirely avoidable. It’s happened to all of us: you find yourself wanting to buy a little something special for an acquaintance, but you don’t want to get too familiar.
I mean, you want to say more than “Happy Holidays” to your work friend, the one you see at the copier every day and talk to about the new season of Selling Sunset. You can’t forget about the barista that knows your order by heart and starts making it the moment you walk through the door. Or the neighbor who loves your dog almost as much as you do and is always good for a friendly smile and a tummy rub (for the dog, not you).
You’ve GOT to get something for your teenaged babysitter’s parents — the ones who always make sure they’re home in case she needs something or has a question. Or maybe it’s your just-moved-in, new neighbors with a precocious preschooler? Then there’s the Instacart shopper, the one who saw you through with friendly, timely deliveries during the pandemic. The one who knows you like your bananas slightly overripe and your baked goods slightly underdone.
When in doubt, go with thoughtful/neutral instead of thoughtful/specific. For example, a tin of cookies might seem nice on the surface, but unless you know about allergies or preferences, you’ll want to stay clear of food gifts. The same goes for skincare items…you never know if the recipient is sensitive to fragrance or reactive ingredients that you consider harmless. Ditto for anything that can be considered as passive-aggressive: you might think that gifting an acquaintance a baker’s dozen of the newest K-beauty sheet masks is a good idea. But your gift recipient may be thinking, this trick thinks I have bad skin. You don’t want that smoke, trust me.
You don’t want to buy someone you don’t know clothing other than neutral accessories, because you might not know their style or their size.
You may want to consider keeping some of these products at the ready…in case of a gift emergency.
This beautiful planter adds just the right amount of home-sweet-home vibes and chill to any space. Buy a pack of succulents to put together several gifts at once.
We all need more candles in our lives. Select one like this that has a light, clean fragrance that won’t fill their space (and that also complements most decor).
Look, we can pretend we live in a world where nothing bad ever happens to anyone, but what purpose would that serve? This warning/distress system emits an ear-splitting alarm and flashing lights when pulled — a good safety device for anyone who’s ever been hesitant to walk into a parking garage. And that’s pretty much every woman I know.
Reusable, packable tote bags are always useful, and this set of 3 by Baggu is perfect. They’re inexpensive but look upscale, and are easy to keep on hand for those impromptu shopping trips.
Power banks are like spinach — they’re good to have on hand, they’re good for you, but somehow, you forget about them from time to time.
This portable speaker is one of those thoughtful items everyone can use, but no one ever seems to buy for themselves.
For the dog parent who finds themselves out and about with their doggo in the dark (which is just about every dog parent), this beanie light will help them find their way home instead of relying on their pup’s impeccable night vision.
We could all use a bit more hydration. This water bottle with reminders on the outside is modern, well designed, and functional…great for gift giving.
This handy tool takes up hardly any space in a wallet or tote bag, while providing the functionality of six wrenches, four screwdrivers, two rulers, a cell phone stand, a bottle opener, a can opener, a letter opener, a box cutter, and a fruit peeler.
This set of tile essentials is perfect for that coworker who’s constantly losing things around the office or the neighbor who gave you an extra house key just in case they lose their own.
For the delivery driver, hairdresser, nurse, manicurist or barista who doesn’t seem to get any “me time” in because they’re so busy serving others, this personalized self care box will show them you care and encourage them to take a lil break.
Gift this personalized stationery and notebook to that acquaintance who casually mentioned they’re going on an African safari in 2022 (and remind them to send you a letter with it while they’re there).
This coffee gift box would pair nicely with morning delivery drives – you know, for the people who bring packages to your doorstep before you’re even awake.
Have a coworker who always forgets about that mug of coffee they made until it gets cold? Then they microwave it and forget about it until you go to microwave your lunch a couple hours later. Get them this Ember mug – it’ll keep their coffee at their preferred temperature all day.
Show her you really know her with this personalized planner, perfect for every type A who schedules her day from the crack of dawn.
This dishwasher- and microwave-safe bowl will be too appreciated by the coworker who always brings their lunch to work in spaghetti-stained plastic tupperware. Some may even call it portabowl (sorry, I had to).
For your deskmate who’s always just a bit stressed. If you encourage them to use this diffuser at work, you’ll probably reap some of the benefits of it, too.
She comes in carrying Starbucks every morning and complains about throwing away the plastic cup, so get her a gift set with a reusable cup that’ll help the environment (and her conscience).
A handy device for that friend who always has a mess of chargers on their desk (or just a mess in general). Not only will this station help them organize their devices, but it will also charge them, too!
Which gift do you think your coworkers will like best? Which ones are you getting for yourself instead? Let us know in the comments!
Need More Last-Minute Gifts For The Last People On Your List? Check These Out: