Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Everyone,
in Four Easy Steps

Thoughtful gift ideas match recipient interests.
Figure out exactly what they like,
and your gift will be a hit!


Generating a thoughtful gift idea may take some effort, but nothing is more satisfying than presenting a well-chosen gift that’s right on target, especially for the dreaded person who is "hard to shop for.”


Let's discuss how to identify your recipient's tastes and interests – even the toughest person on your list. Then check the links below to find gift ideas for various categories of recipients and interests.



We'll start with three introductory tips:

Tip #1: First of all, don’t stress out too much looking for an unusual, uncommon, or unique gift idea. It’s not about being “different!” The truly thoughtful gift ideas are simply those that your recipient genuinely wants and likes.

Tip #2: Choosing the right gift is not necessarily about the occasion. If you have a thoughtful gift idea for Dad, he will love it on his birthday, or for Christmas or Father's Day. Sometimes, of course, the occasion does matter – an exquisite ornament that your cousin loves at Christmas may not be so suitable as a graduation gift.

Tip #3 (Important): Please don’t wait until the last minute! Find a way that works for you to remind yourself of your upcoming gift occasion. Leave plenty of time to do some research so you can match a thoughtful gift idea to your recipient's individual interests.


Four Easy Steps to Thoughtful Gift Ideas


Coming up with thoughtful gift ideas means focusing on your recipient as an individual to determine what sort of gift will prove interesting and welcome.

Step 1: Start Noticing Things

Pay attention to your recipient’s wardrobe and notice the styles and colors frequently worn. Even if clothing is the last thing you’d consider giving, it gives a clue about the person’s tastes – conservative or bold, trendy or traditional. A similarly styled accessory is almost sure to please.

Look around your recipient’s house, apartment, room or office. Notice the magazines, books and music, and the furnishings. See what's hanging on the walls, any collections on display, or perhaps some hobby or sports equipment tucked in a corner.

What’s going on in the photos on the desk? Does your recipient have pets? Clues to thoughtful gift ideas are waiting for you to notice them!

Check out online gift registries and wish lists. In

particular, Amazon has a terrific Wish List where participants can gather great gift ideas from a variety of stores covering just about every sort of gift. You can search for participants by name or email address. If your recipient does not have an online wish list, you might invite him or her to create one.

Listen for remarks about what your recipient admires or dislikes, hopes to own or to do someday, and does for fun on weekends or vacations. Listen for comments about news stories, local events, and favorite songs, movies, or TV shows. Anything you see or hear can spark a thoughtful gift idea…if you pay attention!


Step 2: Ask Subtle Questions

You may not often visit your recipient’s home or spend much leisure time together, but you can steer your conversations to reveal thoughtful gift ideas. To keep it subtle, ask questions that are general but will elicit specific clues.

For example, ask what your recipient did for fun over the weekend, or what they’d do if they won the lottery. Prime the pump by relating your weekend fun, or how you’d spend some extra cash. Ask what they think of the latest fad or style. Bring up the topic of gifts by asking for his or her advice about a present for someone else. The more you can get people talking, the more likely they'll reveal thoughtful gift ideas.


Step 3: Enlist a Double Agent

No matter how well you know your recipient, you still might need some inside information. I’m familiar with my son Mark’s tastes, interests and sense of humor, and many activities he enjoys. But when Mark is living overseas, who knows which activities he gets to pursue there? I don’t know everything he owns or what he might receive from others. To uncover the best gift idea for Mark, I need to get some clues from his wife.

A family member, housemate or close friend of your recipient can be a fine double agent, whether your gift is for someone you don’t know very well, or a far away loved one, or someone who’s just plain hard to shop for. Ask for suggestions. If you already have a gift idea, run it past your informant to see if it really would be a well-chosen gift.

It’s especially wise to get up-to-date information about gifts for kids. Younger ones grow fast and change a lot in a year, and teen tastes may change quickly with fads and fashions. Your gift will be a flop if it’s something the child has grown beyond, or that went out of style six months ago – no matter how thoughtful your gift idea would have been last year.

If your double agent can’t supply any concrete suggestions, you can still learn about activities your recipient has been pursuing lately, and whether he or she already has a particular item. Ask about hints being dropped that would make great gift ideas. Find out where your recipient likes to shop, to add insight into current tastes and interests.


Step 4: Make a Note of It

Finally, write down your ideas! If you haven’t waited until the last minute – and we hope you’ve given yourself time for this research – it would be a shame to forget your great gift idea before you get around to procuring the gift. Make a note while you’re thinking about it! If you’ve come up with several thoughtful gift ideas in the process, good for you! You’ll be ready for the next occasion too!




OK! Now that you have your recipient figured out, here are gift suggestions that are well suited for various categories of people and their interests.

Family Gift Ideas They'll ALL Enjoy – Family gift ideas that appeal to all ages and enhance family quality time. Fun family gifts for indoors, outdoors, and    on the road!

Gift Ideas for Teenagers needn't be limited to cash or gift cards. Here are some cool teen gift ideas that are fun to give and receive.

Gifts for Seniors: Make Life Fun! - Well-chosen gifts for seniors are fun to own, to use, or to do, and good exercise for mind and body.

Gifts for Elderly Seniors: Make Life Easier! - Gifts for the elderly are suited to their abilities. When simple things become harder, it's fun just to be able to do them again!

Gift for a Gardener - Find a gift your gardener can use no matter what the season! First, some thoughtful gift ideas to please green-thumb recipients all year round. Then, season by season:
   Winter Gifts for Gardeners,    Gardening Gifts for Spring,
   Summertime Gardening Gifts,    Cool Gardening Gifts for Autumn

Gifts for Graduates - from Preschool through college, graduation gifts honor their achievements, stir happy memories, and look to the future.
   Graduation Gifts: Preschool & Kindergarten
   Graduation Gift Ideas: Middle School & Junior High
   High School Graduation Gifts     College Graduation Gifts
   Good Gift for a Graduate: Teens and Older

Gifts for Troops - Troops deployed abroad love to receive gifts from home. Your gifts will express your support for them and their families... and that's appreciated too!

Hostess-Gift-Ideas - Ten-plus host and hostess gift ideas that say "Thank you for inviting me!"

Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas (younger grades) - Creative teacher gift ideas go beyond mugs and apples. Here are useful and thoughtful gift ideas that teachers will treasure. More Gift Ideas for Teachers (older grades)

The Person Who Has Everything - Alternative gift ideas for the person who has everything; smart and exciting gift ideas to please, whatever their interests or your budget.

A Charity Gift Gives Twice - Honor a special person when the invitation says "no gifts please." But select a charity gift carefully and present it well.



If you have questions, comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear them. And let us know what category of person/interests you'd like thoughtful gift ideas for! We won't divulge your email address to anyone, for any reason. Promise!


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Other graphics courtesy of Microsoft.