Universal Gifts

By Kristen Castillo

October 5, 2018 5 min read

It seems as if we all have someone on our holiday shopping list who's hard to shop for or who seems to have everything, forcing us to really put some thought into a gift.

Consider one of these universal gift ideas to wow that person who seems impossible to impress this Christmas.


These days, the best gifts are about more than giving or receiving a tangible item.

"It's all about experiences," says Jenn Nicken of The Chef & The Dish, a private one-to-one cooking experience via Skype between consumers and chefs around the world.

The cooking classes, which cost $299, teach home cooks recipes and how to use regional ingredients. Plus, it's a great way for couples and families to spend time together.

Travel experiences are bigger-ticket items, but they're in demand, too.

"In this day and age, we don't want more 'things.' We want experiences," says Gwendolyn Valiente, owner of Napa Valley Wine Tours by Gwendolyn, a company that specializes in private wine tours. "My gift certificates cost $400 and include a gift bag. The tour is six-plus hours, and the certificate allows the receiver to bring up to three guests."

The memories linger long after the experiences are over.

*Food and Drink

Everyone needs to eat and drink, so order some special snacks and sips.

Specialty drinks, such as different kinds of coffee, are popular presents.

"Over 70 percent of all people drink coffee," says Jennifer A. Stone of Demours, a micro-lot and auction lot coffee company.

Think about ordering a food subscription service so the gift recipient gets a monthly variety of munchies. There's a subscription for every type of foodie, including subscriptions for beef jerky, chocolates and desserts, fruit baskets, and spices.

You can even order junk-food subscription boxes for that hard-to-shop-for person. Then there's the opposite -- Fit Snack, delivering healthful snacks and nutritional tips monthly. According to the company, over 40 percent of its December gift boxes are purchased as gifts.

*Fun and Games

Gift-giving can be a lot of fun. Add some humor to your holiday by gifting that tough-to-shop-for friend, family member or colleague a celebrity-inspired rubber duck.

CelebriDucks' newest Costume Quackers include such characters as Harry Ponder, The Floating Stones, GooseBusters and Spa Wars. Priced at $12.99, the ducks are affordable and entertaining.

"What do you get for the person who has everything?" asks Jason Lautenschleger, owner of Game Night in a Can. "More time with loved ones."

Family game night is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Game Night in a Can features 30 distinctive party games to get people moving and thinking in new ways. Games include creating a new dance name and letting someone else come up with its corresponding moves; inventing a new animal species for the last spot on Noah's Ark; and launching a paper airplane competition.

*The Entertainer

If the person on your list likes to entertain, pick up a personalized present that will make hosting parties easy and inviting.

Here's an idea: Preserve Grandma's favorite recipe as a display piece. Gracious Bridal Design House's custom-engraved cheese boards and cutting boards can be personalized with a cherished family recipe and created using your loved one's own handwriting. Prices for the bamboo or hardwood boards start at $26.95.

*All Wrapped Up

Sure, you could give the recipient a gift card, but what's the fun in that? Instead, choose a gift that's a lot more memorable.

Whenever possible, find out what the person on your list wants, and if that's not possible, at least try to figure out what the person doesn't want. Remember to give the person a gift receipt so if needed, he or she can return or exchange the item.

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