Design

Gift Guide Part #8: The Impossible-to-Shop-For Crowd (You Know Who You Are)

Gift Guide for Co-Workers, Teachers, In-Laws and Everyone Else

Who’s left on your holiday shopping list? There are always a few tricky people to buy for, so last week (in our email) we asked who or what were stumping you the most. Your answers: in-laws, co-workers, teachers, nephews/nieces and inexpensive gifts. So, we scouted high and low for dozens of ideas, most of which are under $50…

MOTHERS-IN-LAW (AND GRANDMAS):

She brought your partner into this world. What gift could live up? Maybe an art history book about women reading through the ages; juicy winter citrus; or treats to make her feel beautiful.

FATHERS-IN-LAW (AND GRANDPAS):

New York butcher Pat LaFrieda’s blend — the same one Shake Shack uses — for his next family dinner; a gift card from Just Give, so he can pick from more than two million different charities; and other cool things for the gentleman in your life.

CO-WORKERS:

A legendary career book from George Lois, the original Mad Man of Madison Avenue; chunky, fudgy bars; and other pick-me-ups for the officemate that always makes you smile.

NIECES AND NEPHEWS:

The softest organic cotton PJs (for a steal!); a notepad for playing restaurant; and four more gifts for adventures and mischief.

TEACHERS, SITTERS, MAIL CARRIERS and OTHER HELPERS:

A fresh batch of chocolate-chip cookies (you could stack them in one of these); a candle to cozy up with; or floral stationery for the year ahead, but…

Tendr Money Gifts

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with good old-fashioned CASH MONEY, which is honestly what everyone really wants and appreciates. Tendr is a fantastic site where you can send money electronically along with a sweet illustrated card.

Thoughts? Are these helpful? Any other stumpers on your list?

Plus, the complete 2016 Cup of Jo gift guide!

  1. Giovanna says...

    Wow, there’s a lot of anti-cash sentiment in the comment section and I couldn’t disagree more! Depending on people’s financial status, a cash gift can be really useful, especially around the holidays. Among my family and friends, it’s not tacky at all and is considered especially generous. I love giving cash, along with a very small gift I pick out, like a pair of earrings. Let’s not be ridiculous, here. Some people need and/or prefer cash, and I’d much rather get them something they want and need.

    • Emmanuella says...

      You are one of the enlightened ones. Thanks for your well written and well thought out comment. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve loved getting cash in hard times and I’ve loved seeing happy faces when I give cash :)

  2. Why are satsumas so popular?! I mean, they are really good but I feel like I can’t go anywhere this year without hearing about them. Alcohol filled chocolate is always a good gift in my book to give to others. There are so many options out there.

  3. Catherine says...

    I guess cash works great for people you barely know, but for family members or friends, I think cash is a bit tacky. It kind of says “I couldn’t be bothered to click ‘order'” and it’s especially awkward when you’re exchanging gifts with the recipient in question. What if they got you cash too? If they gave you more, will you make up the difference, thereby rendering both of your “gifts” pointless?

  4. No no no no no. No homemade cookies for teachers. My teacher-friend told me that all homemade food gifts get thrown in the bin – teachers are exposed to enough germs at school without purposefully eating cookies made by wee helping hands. Teachers = gift cards and wine.

  5. Bethany says...

    I loved this until the end. Cash money? It was written crudely and just made the whole lovely gift guide feel gross. I know you have to do these sponsored posts to make a living, but this one just seems dirty.

    Jo: I’ve been reading your blog since before your babies, and have loved seeing your success grow. Don’t lose sight of who you are and what your readers love about you and your blog. Merry Christmas x

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh this isn’t sponsored at all! i really do think money is a really wonderful gift when someone wants/needs it and it’s send with love and a beautiful card. thank you so much for your feedback!

    • Jane says...

      This is ridiculous. Who doesn’t love cash? I’ve also been reading Jo forever, and I love that she remains so down to earth and practical. Merry Christmas x

  6. Alanna says...

    While I completely understand the sentiment of giving cash so that the receiver can get themselves whatever they’d like, personally whenever I’m given money as a gift I can never convince myself to spend it on a gift for myself and it always goes towards rent and groceries instead. I’m in my fifth year of university and have a hard time buying nice things for myself without feeling guilty about it, so when someone else gets me a gift it’s even more appreciated! Maybe a way to avoid this if you’re worried about getting the recipient the wrong thing is to give the money with a little note that it’s intended for something particular, like “For a new sweater I know you’ve been wanting!”

  7. Liz says...

    Does anyone have any ideas of what to get for my step-mom? My dad passed away last year, she’s in her fifties, lives alone, workaholic. Any ideas??

    • Emily says...

      How about a floral subscription? I’ve been struggling with what to get my grandparents, and I think that might be the ticket! Everyone likes flowers, and the recipient isn’t left with clutter! I like Farmgirl Flowers, but I assume there are other options too.

    • Malia says...

      If you live nearby, you could give her a night out to dinner with you at a restaurant she’s been wanting to try, or another experience she might enjoy. My mom’s impossible to buy for (she hates everything or has already read every book I think she’d like), so I’m trying this out this year since I’m home for a few weeks.

      One year we gave my difficult-to-shop-for Father-in-law a food service subscription like Blue Apron–it went over well.

      @Emily’s floral subscription idea is a great, too, if it’s in your budget!

  8. Radana says...

    Love the idea of that reversible tote. Just thinking how if I flipped mine inside out there would certainly be cheerios, goldfish and a panty liner stuck to the outside of that poor bag.

  9. Sara Gardner says...

    For my grandma, something that we’ve done these last couple years for Christmas that she loves is a basket of useful, practical items to use around the home. We include things like liquid hand soaps, teas that help with digestion, warming hand cream for her arthritis, oven mitts, note pads, a gift card to the grocery store, a few hand towels or tea towels, etc. all put together in a nice basket that she can reuse.

  10. Molly says...

    I love your gift guides so much and always look forward to them! I love this guide — people hard to shop for. My family and I just posted a gift guide for someone who is grieving – another hard person to buy gifts for especially if it’s fresh. http://www.ikeepdancing.com/blog/holiday-gift-guide-for-someone-who-is-grieving

    Our sister died last year and we didn’t want to really face the holidays at all — these gifts were all very touching and healing in a way. Our friends and family somehow knew what we needed before we did! They brought joy to an otherwise really hard time. This and making new traditions helped us through the whole season. Hope this helps anyone having to face all that this year.

    Joanna, Thanks for making this a space to share and love one another!

  11. Anne says...

    The teenaged nieces and nephews are enough of a challenge that I give cash or Amazon cards every year. I try to make that more fun by making the delivery interesting. Money hidden inside a jar of candy, dollar coins inside a cheap piggy bank, cash inside a maze box. Pinterest has tons of ideas for cash/card gifting.

    As a former preschool teacher I vote for classroom supplies and notes from the kids/parents.

  12. Julie says...

    I’m a teacher and I have to edit your lit. Do NOT give anything scented to teachers. Please no candles or anything with fragrance. First of all scents are an extremely personally preference. And secondly, many people are allergic to scents. (And we aren’t allowed to burn them in our classrooms anyway.) Did you know that synthetic frangrance has been studied and found to be as bad for you as second hand smoke? Please stay away from scents in gifts unless you KNOW they will like it. Also, please be careful when gifting food items in general. So many people have good allergies these days. Nuts are a big one. Please disclose if the items you are gifting contain nuts!

    • Amy says...

      I’m a teacher too and I don’t necessarily agree. Nice teas, wine and heartfelt cards are my picks! (I am drowning in boxes of chocolate but at least they are re-gift able). My favourite was when a student bought me gardening gloves- it showed she actually thought about me as a person what I might like and use!

    • Mindi says...

      Thank you, Julie! I’m also a teacher and was just about to say no scented things, please.

      It might take a liiiiiitle bit of reconnaissance work but my favorite gifts are when someone brings me a hot cup of coffee (this is where you might have to find out what the teacher likes!) Usually by the time I get to work, get things set up, locate my coffee…it’s gone cold. You know what else would rule? Someone bringing me lunch! I only have 20 minutes to eat most days. You could actually set this up with the teacher and tell him/her you’re doing it so they can have the pleasure of not packing lunch the night before!

      Oh and it may be a personal preference but I love a sweet note with a goofy drawing from a student. Honestly! My sister is a high school teacher and she loves notes from kids, too. Nothing’s better than getting something genuine from a crabby teenager, right?!

    • Maya says...

      I’m a teacher and I’d love a candle or cookies!!! Wouldn’t share either in the classroom!
      I also LOVE receiving flowers. A bouquet of flowers, no matter how simple or inexpensive, always seems thoughtful, feminine, special. And a (low maintenance) plant for the male counterpart.

    • Lisa says...

      Rolling at my eyes at this one – i am sorry!! I mean, its the thought that counts. Why are there all these rules! If you don’t like it that’s okay – regift it or don’t use it! I think a lot more people would appreciate it than be miffed its not their favorite scent. Today’s world man!

  13. Jenni says...

    Love this year’s gift guide so much! Thank you, Joanna :)

    I do want to reiterate the suggestion of giving teachers classroom supplies or gift cards since that is what we do need the most (plus the bulk of our paycheck goes to food and things for the classroom). I completely understand that you probably don’t have as much of a relationship with your child’s teacher as you do the other people on your gift guide, but we’re not the date-night teen babysitter- it’s our full time job to take care of and teach your children- so I would hope that we’re not lumped into the same category. I think this lack of relationship might be why we’re just seen as “helpers”, not constant, caring people in your children’s lives.
    I think what you said you do for Toby’s teachers is a lovely idea, but there’s also nothing wrong with handmade cards from kiddos too. Those are the gifts that will never “clutter” my house or ever have too much of :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for the insight!

  14. Karla says...

    You guys, I’m stumped and need to crowdsource this one. I have THE absolute hardest person to shop for on my list. My brother-in-law. Before you say whiskey! Or Bacon!
    *he doesn’t drink alcohol
    *he’s a vegetarian
    *he’s in the film industry and has refined taste, so I avoid anything entertainment or artistic-related since I’m sure I’d pick out the wrong thing
    Any ideas???

    • Laurie says...

      Gift card to a favorite vegetarian restaurant? Vegetarian cookbook? Good luck!

    • Kelsey says...

      A couple good go to, good for (most) anyone gifts floating around our family this year include a DNA/Ancestry testing kit, the sunrise alarm clock, a newspaper from the day you’re born (if you give it a quick google, lots of companies put them together), or experiences like a knife skills, pasta making, calligraphy lessons, hot air balloon ride, etc. (Groupon is GREAT for this!). There’s always someone that’s super tricky – good luck!

    • Silk (or bamboo) socks…a neutral coloured fine wool vest (charcoal grey is always a winner)…subscription to the NY Review of Books…if he likes cooking then the book Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore by Anna Thomas is fab as it means he can cook for everyone (& lovely recipes!) plus maybe a swish apron & a bottle of good olive oil? Good luck!

    • Really soft cashmere beanie or something? Everyone likes beanies.

    • Kate says...

      A warm and toasty hat? In a navy or black? Can’t go wrong!

    • Sara says...

      I second these suggestions of something cozy! Quality leather gloves (you can get great ones at a good price at places like Century 21), a nice scarf or hat, and we’re addicted to SmartWool socks in my family (my mom always gifts these and we all love them so much — they have different weights for different activities so you can get thinner everyday ones as well as heavy duty ones for hiking and extra coziness).

      OR does he drink coffee? We like to gift the adults with beans from our local coffee roaster (there seems to be one in every town these days, do a search for your area!). My husband picks them up the week of the holidays so they’re super fresh. You could pair with a nice sturdy mug.

      Good luck!

    • Emily says...

      I have a brother-in-law who is also impossible! Last year we got him a “phone soap” gadget, which is a UV phone sanitizer that also charges the phone. He loved it!

  15. Allie says...

    BEST GUIDE YET as these really are the trickiest groups for which to buy! I know my parents and closest friends like the back of my hand so they tend to be easier for me when it comes to gift selection. It’s the acquaintances that are so hard to get without breaking the bank!!! Thank you as I’ve just knocked out four people with your lovely little list here! Saved the day yet again! :) xoxo

  16. Jennifer says...

    I just did this yesterday and have to share it here because it was, without a doubt, the best thing I’ve done this season: I splurged and got lunch for all the teachers at my son’s daycare. I brought them sandwiches, chips, cookies and drinks and their appreciation was just bubbling over. I spent way more money on this than I had originally wanted to, but when I saw the looks on their faces I didn’t care. They take care of my little boy each day and that’s the absolute least thing I can do to thank them for the hard work they do each and every day. So, humble brag aside (so sorry but I just had to share because it made me so happy), maybe lunch for the teachers in your life?

    • Ashley Flores says...

      Yes, yes, yes! As a teacher (currently elementary and fromer preschool) I completely cosign this idea. We teachers are like Moms (and in some cases are moms) in the sense that we are very busy and often think of ourselves last. Someone bringing food is the best.

    • Mindi says...

      This is the nicest thing! I just posted in response to another comment how, as a teacher, this would make my day. Right on!

  17. I am so happy you made a gift-guide for the impossible-to-shop-for crowd. Whenever I am in doubt, I feel like everyone could use a nice smelling candle in their life. Good suggestions! Thank you for sharing. :)

    xo,
    Anika Yael Natori, aka, ‘The Josie Girl’
    http://josiegirlblog.com/

  18. For those asking about kids and teenagers, my best advice is Amazon gift cards. That way they can get what they really want, instead of a bunch of toys that just take up space. At my kids’ last birthday party most parents gave Amazon cards and we were able to pool them to finish up the outdoor play area that we were making for them…which is awesome because it’s something they use all the time. My other suggestion: ask! People think kids need a bunch of surprises, but it’s better to give something special than to guess!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i totally agree! great advice, melanie!

  19. I’m stumped on a gift for my tween nephew. I don’t know what 9 year old boys like these days! I don’t want to be that aunt that just sends clothes.

    • My son is 9, and I know that can be a tricky age because they’re generally past toys. Instead they love things that encourage adventure and independence. He’s been asking for books and a ninja warrior rope set to put up in the park–you might consider a set of books for that age (the new Harry Potter, encyclopedia, The One and Only Ivan, Peter & the Starcatchers, etc.) or an Amazon giftcard so he can pick out his own.

    • Laeti says...

      I’m getting a 10 year old boy some Google glasses this year! He loves video games and has been talking about Virtual reality… Hopefully he likes it!

    • Robin says...

      Depends on your budget – here in suburbia the kids love walkie talkies, flashlights, anything for outdoor fort making play. For a higher budget, the garmin vivofit jr is a popular choice (like a kid’s fitbit).

    • Nerf guns are always winners. Even if they have one, you need more for legit battles.

  20. By the “Impossible to Shop for Crowd” I assume you meant the “Shopping for Yourself Crowd”, right? Because I definitely just ordered that reversible tote.

    Merry Christmas to me :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha good call!

  21. Carly says...

    Some thoughts on gifts for teachers…

    At the school where I taught for 7 years, one parent would gather cash donations from the other parents and then present the teachers with a visa cash card on the last day of school before winter break- usually with a small plant or flower. It was so nice- even $5 each from 20 parents is $100! The teachers REALLY appreciated it. One of my coworkers used it to buy herself a pair of nice, comfortable, quality work shoes or pants each year that she might not otherwise be able to afford. Teaching really young children you wear out knees of pants and toes of shoes at an alarming rate! And I know for many of my coworkers that money didn’t go toward frivolous things. It was deeply appreciated and even needed.

    I taught at another school where I got 20 different little gifts and candy… and while it was so nice to be thought of, I then had the problem of having SO MUCH STUFF, no place or use for much of it, but feeling bad about getting rid of it!

    I actually really believe in generally giving cash for this reason- there is often too much STUFF in the world. I don’t see cash as impersonal; I see it as the gift of a choice. If you think it’s impersonal… well, would you be offended by a gift of money??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i agree! i think money can be a wonderful thoughtful gift, especially since it’s typically what the person actually wants :) i love the idea of pairing it with a small plant or flower. thank you for the insight, carly!

  22. Alina says...

    I’m in the “love your gift guides” club for sure- already bought two from them (negroni lip balm and mothers book).

    Also am always needing gift ideas for extended family so this last guide is especially great. The thing is- we have FOUR yes four sets of families (both my husband and my parents are divorced…) and start to run out of money at one point. So I love a commenter’s idea about homemade salsa! Cookies, even though I do them every year, get boring.

  23. Erin says...

    There are so many good ideas here! I only wish you had posted it earlier, as I already got gifts for the people I could have used these ideas for. I’m bookmarking them now, and hoping they are still around next Christmas.

  24. jenn says...

    I got my nieces rosie revere, engineer last Christmas and they LOVED IT!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i LOVE iggy peck, too; my boys are really into it.

  25. I was already planning on making chocolate chip cookies for the people who help me every day – the barista downstairs, the mailman, the security staff at my office. :) Just tie them in some plastic wrap with twine and a little tag. Happy holidays!
    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

  26. Tina Rollman says...

    I have used your 2015 and 2016 gift guide for all my shopping this season and I am more excited about GIVING this year than I have ever been. Your blog has definitely lifted my spirit. Thank you so much for creating this special site for me to visit everyday. I look forward to my time with Cup of Joe. Happy holidays to you and yours.

  27. Great suggestions…I love the little salt set especially.

    If you will excuse the bit of self-promotion, I paint custom watercolor pet portraits, and A LOT of my clients buy for in-laws! Since it’s so personal, I think it’s perceived as sort of thoughtful and showing you care, maybe? This time of year I send a greeting card IOU and then the painting follows in the mail.

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/206199012/custom-pet-portrait-original-watercolor

  28. Abby says...

    LOVE this gift guide. As a teacher, I always appreciate the things I can use up in some way – gift cards (especially for coffee), candles, cookies, nice post-its, that kind of thing.

  29. Olma says...

    Maybe it is because I come from a family of teachers but I take some umbrage at the suggestion of giving teachers cookies or notecards. Do people really think that teachers are so “cute ” and “sweet” that they want cookies? They want the marble laptop cover or the book about physics just like every other adult. Just because they are teaching children doesn’t mean that they are children.

    • KC says...

      Could be wrong, but I suspect that is less about “cute” and more about price point and the “traditional”/standard “size” for teacher/mailman gifts. I mean, sure, there are notecards that go all the way up to $$$, but cookies or a candle or notecards can be compassed by $5 or so. They’re also “consumables”, aka not going to clutter up the house forever, and the other traditional consumable, alcohol, would likely be perceived as inappropriate to give to a school employee, however welcome it might be… :-)

      (that said, I just thought of another consumable, that being Nice Office Supplies – some smooth-writing pens might not go amiss with most teachers?)

    • Jes says...

      I think perhaps these suggestions were presented because of the monetary value behind the gift. A person tends to be much closer to their co-workers or mothers-in-law than they are their child’s teacher, and therefore; willing to spend a little more on those people. A set of notecards or cookies shows thoughtfulness at a more manageable price-point for these relationships.

    • Laura says...

      I definitely get where you’re coming from, I thought the note cards look very grown up though.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i actually have these notecards and love them:) we chose these gifts because of a slightly lower price point, since they’re meant for any favorite helpers in your life, including a date-night babysitter or a dog walker — not just teachers. for our teachers, we give money along with a small gift from all the families (and that’s standard at our public school). hope that helps!

  30. Annie says...

    Another fun idea for teachers/babysitters/helpers (that’s not food-related!) is movie tickets!!

    My mother was an educator and would get so many sweet treats as gifts, and she’s diabetic! :-/ Also, too many tchotchkes…

    • Rachel says...

      With absolute respect for babysitters and other helpers, this teacher would suggest that teachers fall under a somewhat different category. To me, it has less to do with the monetary value of a gift and more with appreciation of the education, training, and experience that has gone into my career. As far as gifts go, there are so many treats floating around school this time of year, so we – I – welcome other homemade gifts and certainly gift cards (consumable and don’t take up space). Also, they can be refilled or recycled after the fact.

    • Klara says...

      Yes! I got movie tickets for the “difficult crowd” on several occasions already. If they’re a bit closer to you, you can get multiple tickets and wrap them up together with m&’s, popcorn, little bags of chips, a few cans of soda/beer… as a big present.

  31. Claire says...

    Wow thanks. This is really helpful.

  32. jd says...

    Great ideas, so many of my gifts this year are coming from present and past Cup of Jo recommendations.
    Giving cash as a gift sounds boring or maybe tacky, but frankly most people could always use a little bit more! Add the home-made cookies in the weck jar for a personal touch.

    When I was a teenager, all I wanted was gift cards (or cash!)– for clothes or food will always be welcomed because that’s what I would have been blowing my part-time paychecks on anyway.

    Buying for men has always been tough, but I agree you can’t go wrong with meat! One year I purchased a gift card to a local farm, so my Dad could pick out a fresh cut of meat and I think he got a kick out of seeing the farm. I included homemade bbq sauce which is really easy to make.

  33. Martha says...

    Wow, love the idea of Tendr!

    • Lizzie says...

      That video made my holiday season. Thanks SNL for making giant candles a timely gag gift and not an awkward cop-out!

  34. Anna says...

    Hi,
    I am a teacher – gifts we love the most are self made ones from our class (es) – I prefer even self made cards with their names on it ;)
    I’m teaching teenagers and I think it’s easy to find a gift for teenie girls – they’re a bit like little women and love similar things: nice shampoings, little chocolates, a shopping card for their favorite store… and if the teenager is your son/daughter/nephew/niece – how about a “voucher” for an activity like Climbing together or something like that?

  35. I bought the physics book for my daughters’ grandfather. He’s a physicist and reads all the time, so this will be perfect! (Not because he doesn’t know it already, but because he likes other perspectives.) I bought a copy for myself as well, after I read the reviews. Can’t wait.

  36. Patricia says...

    Here is a challenge for you … teenagers.

  37. Jessica says...

    That restaurant order pad would have made my day when I was a kid! That’s an awesome suggestion.

  38. Becca says...

    Teenagers! Please, please give us some ideas for gifting to teenagers! There are a million gift guides out there for the under 12 set, but I have five siblings-in-law, four of them in their teens! Also, a stocking stuffers guide would be great as well. Loved the expanded gift guide this year!

  39. Meredith says...

    I love the idea of a tote for my mother-in-law, and the idea of the ‘hard-to-buy-for’ guide overall! Next year, could you post it sooner? The international ship by date (I live in Ireland) for that tote was December 7 :(

  40. great ideas!

  41. Robyn says...

    Good ideas, but as a teacher I would really like to have things for my classroom or a gift card to buy things for my classroom. It’s amazing how much money teachers spend out if their own pockets for teaching materials!

    • Suzanne says...

      I’ve heard this about teachers, too. My company does a Letters to Santa program each year and have started donation buckets for the teachers (suggesting classroom supplies, stuff like anti-bacterial wipes and gift cards to places like Target).

    • Maya says...

      Whoa! I didn’t get this sense at all! i’m sensitive to sponsored posts and no one does them more tastefully and attractively than Cup of Jo.

  42. nathalie says...

    As far as I understand, teachers in Germany aren’t allowed to accept gifts over $10 because it could be seen as a bribe (the upper limit varies a bit from state to state). There was a controversial case where one teacher actually had to pay a $4000 fine! So we pretty much have to do homemade stuff – cookies, candles, ornaments; our teacher feels uncomfortable with gift cards.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      interesting! in new york city public schools (as well as the preschools we’ve attended), the parents have given teachers a cash gift every year. each family generally donates about $25, and we give the teachers all the cash and a card signed by all the parents. some kids write sweet notes and cards, too.

    • Rachel says...

      I work in New York City as well but at a school where students may only give a homemade gift due to gifts getting out of hand in the past. The Parents Association gives each person working in the building a generous cash gift – something that means a lot and for we are all grateful this time of year.

  43. I always get a bit of a brain-block when it comes to older men (uncles, grandfathers, etc.). I end up opting for baked goods or alcohol, so I love the old fashioned candy bar idea! It makes it a little more personal.

  44. sally says...

    teachers really struggle and need help. i have been with one 12 years and the amount of personal money spent on the classroom is ridiculous along with being drastically underpaid, especially where we live. if i may make a recommendation, consider giving the teacher a gift card to target, or to trader joes. on the high end, the best thing we ever got from his classroom was a gift card to eat at zuni cafe (fancy restaurant in our city) and gift cards to buy giants tickets. thoughtful ways for him (and I) to enjoy some relaxation and treats. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great tips!!

  45. Meems says...

    I admit (head bowed) that I am the impossible person to shop for. The gold cuff is exactly what “I NEED”. The store, Belmto, is super affordable and has wonderful trending jewelry. I found a scarf too. I will report back when my order arrives. Thank YOU for the suggestions!

    • Syazana says...

      Got the cuff for myself too! Couldn’t resist! ;)

  46. Thank you so much for this list! Your guides are the best!! 😊😊

  47. Anaclara says...

    I love the hand balm and bourbon ideas. My feminist side is a little like, “aw, why do the guys always get the burgers and interesting books and we get stuck with a compact mirror and a coffee table book?” That said, I appreciate your gift guides and just received Catch Phrase in the mail as a stocking stuffer for my husband :-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks for your note! we’ve put many books (and podcasts, wine, donations, knives, trips, etc.) for women in our 2016 guide, if you’d like more ideas — we try to keep all the guides really wide-ranging for different interests, hope that helps! http://cupofjo.com/tag/2016-holiday-gift-guide/

  48. m s says...

    Hi there! Love these gift guides. Also, perhaps you could consider posting guides for those who want to give experiences or give to global causes in addition or in lieu of physical gifts? I’m always a fan of the combination of fun outings and meaningful investments. Given the heartbreaking crisis in Syria right now, the latter feels particularly important. <3

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes great idea! We have tried to include donations and other gifts in each guide but maybe a more specific guide would be helpful? Thank you for the suggestion!

    • Bianca says...

      Great idea!

  49. money or a gift card, while boring, are always a good bet. or a candle- but that reminds me of this funny skit-https://intothegloss.com/2016/12/snl-christmas-candle-video/

    xo, brittany
    http://www.notablob.com

    • Julie says...

      I had not seen that skit! Hilarious. Thank you for making my day. :)

  50. E. says...

    Yikes, ended up buying a bunch of stuff from belmto.com! So lovely!

    • Anitra Sweet says...

      I love that recipe!! It’s the only salsa I make :)

    • Alina says...

      Such a great idea!!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a great idea — thank you, jenny!

  51. Angela says...

    As an educator, I would definitely say that gift cards rank pretty high on the list, just like a previous commenter mentioned. My preschool families used to keep me in coffee for semesters at a time. 😉

  52. Lindsay says...

    Once again, your gift guides for the win! I was totally stumped for my father-in-law, but thanks to this guide he’s all taken care of. Thank you!

  53. Kristian says...

    As an educator- yes to the giftcard (which, honestly, if it is not for food almost always ends up paying for something for my class or classroom). Please, not another candle.

    I do love all the suggestions for some of the others though!

  54. Hipster camper says...

    Dang, woman. You know what you’re doing. THIS, I can use!

  55. Elizabeth says...

    I would love to see a couples gift guide. I have a few different couples we buy for, and beyond champagne/wine, it can be tricky.

    • Lauren E. says...

      I second this!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great suggestion! thanks, elizabeth.

  56. Lena says...

    Hah, what a good idea for a gift guide. Thank you!

  57. Natalie says...

    I have to say, Joanna, I am shocked you condone cash as an xmas gift! Call me old fashioned, but I cannot bring myself to give cash. It feels so impersonal. I always want to get people a treat they wouldn’t buy themselves. Of course, I end up spending this entire month stressed out searching for the perfect thing, and settling on a candle or plant at the last minute. Maybe I should just give cash… HA!

    I do have one exception– cash tips to the people who make my life better. Hair stylist, colorist, brow girl, garbage guys, baristas, etc. They definitely deserve it!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Haha I see your point but for anyone who works for you or helps improve your life (babysitters, teachers, tutors, etc….) cash seems like a great gift to me:) or maybe an Amazon or target gift card if you want it to be slightly more specific?

    • Natalie says...

      Alas, the Cup of Jo gift guide has definitely made me run around less haphazardly this year. A few of your recommendations arrived yesterday, and I can’t wait to wrap them up! Thank you for creating such a wonderful blog. Merry Christmas Cup of Jo team! xo

  58. mb says...

    As someone that knows a bunch of educators, I want to offer a boring BUT really easy idea–a gift card! Teachers and secretaries and all those people who make your day easier and work so, so hard deserve so much! If cash sounds too crass or thoughtless, choose a giftcard from a close-by coffee shop, bookstore, or even Target! Extra points if you choose the giftcard because you’ve noticed how they always seem to be holding a coffee cup from that particular place.

    • H says...

      Yes as a teacher I totally agree. Or if you want to, have your child write a note to the teacher. I always keep all of those. Homemade food is a hard one for me- between dietary restrictions (I have several) and the sheer quantity of food we receive I would think through a food gift. I had a student bring us a fruit basket one year and that was awesome!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      A note from the child is a sweet idea!

    • Erin says...

      I’m curious. What amount would you recommend? My son is 2.5 and has 2 teachers for his class.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      In Toby’s class, the suggested donation per family is $25.

    • Lynn says...

      Second this! Think about the receiver- those people we interact with in a service setting could probably use money or a gift card most. Considering their needs is the most thoughtful gift you can give.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      For sure!

    • Emily says...

      Yes, as an educator who just spent $45 at Target for items for my classroom, I would love to get a Target gift card. Coffee cards are more limiting – make sure she drinks coffee.

  59. The letter necklace might just be the perfect thing for my mother in law! :)

  60. The salts and alcohol are great ideas! It is a great time to let the helpers know they are appreciated, as you mentioned. I have so many challenging people to buy for in my life! At least, it is truly the thought that counts and fun to attempt the perfect gift!

    I have a couple of gift guides on my blog too.

    Ethical buys: http://bit.ly/2gPiKnm
    And awesome little kids: http://bit.ly/2gQqDqX

    I love this season! Cheers to gift giving!

  61. Jessica says...

    Restaurant order pad is genius! I loved office supplies as a kid and I’d forgotten how cool that would feel to have. Kudos again team!

    • Morgan says...

      I agree! Playing restaurant was my all time favourite game as a kid. I can’t wait for my nieces and nephews to be a couple years older so I can play restaurant with them.
      Another fave niece/nephew gift is a bunch of play money like this https://www.amazon.ca/Canadian-Play-Money-imitation-argent/dp/B00P54RQL2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1481844728&sr=8-2&keywords=play+money (Canadian here!) and the gift I always wanted a never got as a kid–a play cash register.

    • Agreed! This kept me entertained for hours on end as a child. It made me nostalgic and a little giddy to see it up here. GREAT idea!!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Morgan, I’m with you! I always wanted a cash register. A good friend of mine had a REAL cash register that a family friend in the restaurant industry gave her. I was beyond jealous.

    • Zoe says...

      I remember one present I got as a kid was a cardboard pet carrier and a bunch of “custom” vet forms + business stationery (hand drawn and just xeroxed w my name on it, like I was a real doctor) + a stethoscope and needle-less syringes. I used to play vet with all of my stuffed animals and I still have those forms with all of the fake maladies my toys had. It was awesome. That’s what that restaurant pad reminded me of. Gifts like this are the best.

  62. I’ve definitely used the cookie idea before. I actually invented a recipe for my sister (double chocolate chunk pretzel cookies) and gave her a batch with the recipe. Its always great to include the recipe so the recipient can make more!

  63. Katherine says...

    Mmm, old fashioned candy bars.