Gift Guide Part #9: Hard-to-Shop-For Peeps (Plus, Lots of Budget-Friendly Ideas!)

Who’s left on your holiday shopping list? There are always a few people who are impossible to buy for, so this month (in our weekly email) we asked who was stumping you the most. Your answers: grandparents, teachers, tweens and teens, new crushes, co-workers and inexpensive gifts. Here are tons of ideas, most of which are under $30…


If the kid-in-question is a reader, The Hate U Give is a slam dunk 2017 novel for young adults, longlisted for a National Book Award. Break-open geodes are fun to do and make for great bedroom decor. Also, all kids love the thrill of gift certificates — say, to H&M or their local ice-cream shop. (Side note: the glow-in-the-dark coin counter is rad and I kind of want it for myself).


Grandparents often crave quality time more than anything. “My grandmother says a lunch date is her favorite,” says CoJ reader Katie Larissa. “We get hamburgers and sweet tea, and I ask questions about her childhood.” But edible and personal gifts also feel heartfelt: “I had my grandparents’ honeymoon photo made into a puzzle,” says Lana. Or take the opportunity to spoil them with hand cream or the softest socks. “I give my grandmother stationery and stamps, since she likes matching them to the occasion, which is adorable,” says Katie. If all else fails, go for a lost key finder!


You’ve been dating for only a few months, but he or she already has a piece of your heart. To keep the good vibes flowing, try a sweet pair of earrings, a getaway rental or the perfect game for getting to know each other better.


We asked a middle-school teacher named Hilary, and her favorite gifts are school supplies, gift cards for Amazon or Target, and heartfelt notes from the kids (“I save all of these,” she says). She advises skipping homemade food and mugs (“Dear lord, I cannot take any mugs!”). Another teacher, India, backed her up: “We get SO many chocolates and lotions,” she says. “But a note and $5 gift card is beyond wonderful. It’s truly being remembered and noticed that means the most.” Fellow teachers out there, do you agree?


For your work squad, go for things to make them smile — like a last-all-day lipstick or text-friendly gloves. For a boss, consider this $29 plant for his or her desk.


A cash gift is always appreciated, of course, but if you’re thinking of giving your babysitter, dog walker or handyman/woman a small gift, you can’t go wrong with something delicious or pampering.


“Don’t laugh, but my family always give small gifts to each other’s dogs and cats. It feels so sweet when everyone opens their presents and the animals are included,” says Cup of Jo reader Arden. If you’re looking for fun ideas, try whole wheat biscuits (with a touch of chicken broth), natural rubber chew toys or a new perch for scratching and cozying up at home.


A few great charities we believe in, which help support girls, women and the environment, plus a sweet (and easy) way to give straight-up cash online with a beautiful card. Also, you can make a gift purchase from two great companies that bolster communities by offering employment to people getting back on their feet and selling awesome products.

What would you add? And who else is stumping you? Let us know, and we’ll chat in the comments!

P.S. Last year’s hard-to-shop-for guide, and the FULL 2017 holiday gift guide.

(Photo by Betty Petrella.)