Festivities & Celebrations

Gift Guide Part Deux: You’re So Hard To Buy For

   Some people are hard to buy for.  They have everything.  They engage in esoteric hobbies that are  impossible to acknowledge with a present.  These are people who never express appreciation but that you might feel obligated to purchase gifts for because of blood or marriage.  Many of us have ancient relatives with closets full of bedroom slippers and scented soaps.

I hope these ideas will help you with the hard to buy for people on your list.  Remember, though, that you can always make a donation to their favorite charity in their honor if that will bring them pleasure.

Do your parents already have a set of salt and pepper shakers crafted to look like themselves?   If not, they don’t truly have everything.  For the single recipient, the wine stopper would be a hilarious choice.

This next gift won’t win you any points for bringing sexy back, but it will be put to good use.  Have you discovered the wonder of Tervis tumblers? They don’t sweat, they don’t crack in the dishwasher, and they keep cold drinks chilly.  We only have four and we fight over them.  I linked to the clear ones, but if you click around you’ll see that they come in
several shapes and tons of designs– adorned with sports teams, or Adirondack chairs, and in different colors.  I’ve seen the sports-themed ones at Bed Bath & Beyond, also.  Lifetime guarantee!

Perhaps a prepaid membership to Netflix for a certain amount of time would thrill someone?  Alternatively, Mystery Mommy says buy someone the DVD’s of shows or movies you’ve enjoyed.  We don’t have a TV in our bedroom (marital compromise) so one year I gave Bill a portable DVD player and Seinfeld DVDs to watch at night.  Others have
suggested Gilmore Girls, Six Feet Under, Planet Earth, and 24.  Y’all please put other movie/show ideas in the comments with thoughts on other gift ideas, as television is one of my weak points.

I found some great treasures at Tuesday Morning. They had lots of cooking equipment, including Le Crueset casserole dishes and nice spoons, measuring cups and so forth by OXO and others.  As someone who cooks a lot, I rarely replace my measuring spoons, spatulas or flour cannister, but it would be a great surprise if someone else did.  A cute way to do it would be to wrap a book such as Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes or Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America and tuck a wooden spoon and spatula under the ribbon on the outside.

Those books have a story and recipes, but a wonderful cookbook is nice, too.  Some of you may hear “Junior League cookbook” and immediately think of cream of mushroom soup-flooded casseroles, but if so, you’re behind the times.  Food for Thought is a standard text here in town, and if you purchase it, I can send you a list of the fabulous recipes everyone loves.

For the vegetable lover, there is a book native to Wisconsin called From Asparagus to Zucchini.  It lists vegetables from A to Z, tells you how to use/store/eat/cook them, and includes two or three recipes for each one submitted by local chefs and community supported agriculture farmers. You could give the book along with a selection of organic vegetables or cookware, and be a hit!  Thanks Maggie!

Tuesday Morning also had a nice collection of glassware, including Bodum glasses, Armetale serving pieces and funky vases.

A vase filled with a couple of bunches of astromeria from the grocery store (hold upside-down and shake gently before purchasing – if flowers fall off the bouquet is old!) makes a nice hostess gift.  Cut the flowers short so they bunch just above the neck of the vase, and strip off the leaves that would be in the water so they don’t stink.


Speaking of collections, if someone you know collects Santas or angels and you want to add to the collection, Tuesday Morning had a huge selection of these as well as nutcrackers and reindeer.

Alternatively, you and a couple of equally stymied relatives could get together and start a collection of something for that impossible-to-buy-for person and that will provide you with a gift idea each year.  One Christmas my sisters gave me a couple of funky Jonathan Adler pieces that I adore, and others have added to the collection over the years.


My one concession to Martha Stewartness is that I buy beribboned photo ornaments from Exposures every year and make one for each boy with a wacky picture in it.  (That’s a big fat lie, as I forbid the boys to touch them, and they’re totally for me.)  Anyway, for a while they were hardly noticeable on the tree, but when I’ve done this year’s we’ll have thirty-three, and it’s fun going back and looking at them each year.  This is a good gift if you’ve hung out with a friend or relative in situations where you have pictures of their kids.


Tuesday Morning had a nice collection of picture frames– mainly the 4×6 size.  I realized that someone in Bill’s office would think that he had three babies, as I haven’t updated his photos of the boys in a while.

I’m not out of ideas yet!  How about a rosemary plant or frozen homemade soup for those who live alone and aren’t inclined to cook for themselves?

A subscription to Mental Floss magazine will keep a reader entertained!


Maybe you need a gift for someone who has a beach or lake house, or loves baths, or… needs a towel.  Costco had some plushy pastel bath sheets for $17 that would be beautiful monogrammed and presented as a beach towel.

My mother gave bath towels and sheets as presents under the theory that people never buy these for themselves.  It was a wonderful idea– sheets are worth spending a little more on because you use them every night, and now is a good time of year to get a deal on them.

Beach supply replacement would make a good gift as well, now that I think of it.  You could buy the big LL Bean tote from my previous post, (my friend has one that says “I’m The Mom!”) and fill it with some goggles, suntan lotion, beach towels, chapstick with sunscreen and call it a day.  How imaginative you are!

Buying for a wine lover?  One reader noticed a wine refrigerator at Target online for under $200.

Over at MOO you can buy calling cards, stickers, postcards, and other paper goods.  They have a host of pre-made designs, or you can upload photos to the site.  If you’re making homemade food for people, this would be a cute place to have stickers made to place on jars.  I’ll let y’all brainstorm other ideas for this site, because it’s chock full and the prices are reasonable.

I know you’re tired of reading, and I’m tired of typing, so I’ll wrap up with Uncommon Goods, which always has good ideas.  On the home page, I love the monkey slippers. Also see the agate coasters, the geography pillows, hand painted wine glasses, (all their glassware rocks), and the runaway alarm clock.

Yo, I’m tired.  And freaking out that Finn is attending his first boy-girl party tonight.  Thank God I found out about the female presence just before the party started, and was able to encourage him to brush his teeth and apply deodorant before the big event.

My final installment will be gifts for your spouse, kids, and anyone else I forgot, with an emphasis on romantic surprises your lover will love.

Happy Shopping!


  • Sam in SC

    Riffing on the Tervis Tumbler idea – did you know that you can send family snap shots to the company, who will in turn suspend them between the insulating layers of your cups (which also come in all sorts of sizes)? Pretty cool gift for moms and dads! http://www.tervis.com

  • Erin

    Could you just e-mail me when you’re done with these gift lists so I can resume reading your posts then? If I continue now I’ll be broke long before Christmas. Sadly, I’ve found as many things I want for myself as I have for everyone else! Of course the biggest disappointment is the whole ‘teachers against apples’ spokesperson who crushed my plan to give all my kids teachers apple key fobs from Coach. But hey there are tons of uses for 10 apple key rings, right?

  • Charro

    One of my favorite places to shop is most any antique mall. You can find all kinds of stuff from junk(for that infamous white elephant gift) to something really nice for yourself ! haha.. For those of you who live near the Tiny Kingdom…try CAHABA HEIGHTS ANTIQUES which is behind Starbucks by Two Men and a Truck. They have all kinds of things and are sooo nice ! Good luck to all!

  • Sharon

    It might sound silly, but if everyone just settled for gift card, then everyone could choose their own special gift. this way people don’t have to receive something that don’t actually like and put it it their closet to be polite.

  • Jenni

    As for dvd’s to give, the first season of “The Sarah Silverman Program” is out. Only give it if you’ve seen the show and know the recipient would love it (like me!). It’s completely politically incorrect and could send the really wrong message unless you knew the recipient would appreciate the humor. But if said recipient would appreciate the humor, it will be a huge hit!

  • Brooke

    Another great cookbook is Frank Stitt’s Southern Table, authored by the Birmingham resteraunteur (I’m sure I butchered that) that runs Bottega, Bottega Cafe, Highlands Bar & Grill, etc. It is superb and also has great stories about the recipes and Southern cooking/life in general.

  • Brooke

    Whoops – I forgot to add that the recipe in the Frank Stitt cookbook for spiced pecans has now beome my go-to holiday gift for coworkers, neighbors, etc. They are delicious and people always ask for the recipe!

  • Lizzi

    I absolutely LOVE Tuesday Morning! There’s one across the street from my kids’ karate studio – safe to say I haven’t seen a lesson all year! It really is a great place to pick up little things for gifts. I liked your cookbook w/a spoon idea … might have to use that one! Thanks for putting the time into this!

  • TIckled Pink

    Fabulous list! The wine stopper idea reminded me of a gift I got my gay brother-in-law a few Christmases ago. At an antique shop I found an aluminum 50’s cocktail shaker with a rooster lid. My husband didn’t find it funny, but fortunately my brother-in-law did. It looks very spiffy on his bar.

  • momoftwinsplus1

    For boys, I am most excited about what I found for my nephew and godson – the duct tape wallet kit. They even make a pink version for girls, but I know the boys will love the good old fashioned gray version. Thanks for all the great ideas! I found them at http://www.hearthsong.com.