Tips and tricks for giving the perfect gift this holiday season

Design by Emma Yost. Photos courtesy of,,, and

This story was originally published in the second edition of The Lion’s Tale (December 13th, 2021).

Gift giving can be a tricky task, and sometimes it’s difficult to find just the right gift for everyone in your life. 

Many stores try to help customers by displaying gift sets of various items and gift cards. However, to the recipient, these types of gifts can come across as unthoughtful or lazy. 

Start by recognizing the role this person plays in your life. Gifts for teachers versus friends or siblings are obviously very different. Consider their likes and dislikes, and how they spend their free time. 

Personally, I like to give presents that add a personal, homemade touch. Incorporating an inside joke or shared interest is a great way to show the recipient that you were thinking of them. 

Trinkets from a show or movie your friend is into can be a fun gift, but I’ve found these often end up on a shelf. Try opting for a personalized gift- consider what interests you share, or any memorable experiences you’ve had with them. For example, if your friend is into music, making a personalized playlist or Spotify code keychain is a fun way to give them something both thoughtful and functional. 

For parents and grandparents, family photos tend to do the trick. has many types of personalized photo gift items; such as mugs, mouse pads, and calendars, that are perfect for any adult relative. Parents especially like homemade gifts or cards, even from their older kids.  

I’ve found that teachers always appreciate coffee mugs or bags of ground coffee, or even just a card showing that you value their teaching. Or for a homemade option, I’ve made personalized mugs and tumblers for my teachers with a gift card inside. 

Significant others can be difficult, but a memento from a first date or piece of jewelry with your initials is always a cute way to show you care. Keep your SO’s interests and hobbies in mind to include something else with a personal gift. 

Teenage siblings seem impossible to shop for, but I’ve found they always appreciate snacks, candy, and gift cards. Even though these are not as personal, it shows you were thinking of them. If they are into certain artists, a vinyl or CD of one of their favorite artists is a thoughtful present that they will use. 

As for younger siblings and cousins, toys and stuffed animals are an easy present. However, puzzles and kid-friendly board games are a fun, easy gift for kids that you can do with them. 

If you’re the type to buy presents for your pets, toys and treats are the obvious answer. PetSmart sells dog-friendly Christmas cookies, and different holiday toys that any dog or cat would love. 

But overall, the holiday season isn’t so much about how much you spent on gifts- but the thought you put into it. 

A great present doesn’t need to be expensive, so even if you are on a budget, there are plenty of ways to show your loved ones you care. Writing a nice card and a box of their favorite candy is a simple, cheap gift for anyone in your life. Baked goods demonstrate the time and effort you put into a gift, and are delicious as well. 

It’s easy to fall victim to holiday advertising and pressures to buy just the right gift. However, by keeping your intentions in mind, finding a great gift for anyone can be much easier than it seems.