Last week we talked about gift ideas for people having financial problems. This week we’ll talk about another trouble-spot: gift ideas for people who don’t want anything.
This is not the same as the problem of people who already have everything—also known as the “she has Waterford crystal for 24, what’s left to buy?” problem. Instead this is the problem of buying for someone who wishes the holidays weren’t so commercial and says, if asked for gift ideas, “I don’t know—I don’t need anything, and I already have so much STUFF.”
This is one of the few situations where I’d recommend the Charity Gift: normally I think it’s poor form to give away someone else’s present for them, especially in a way that makes them look like a selfish ass for not being delighted at the news that they themselves will be receiving nothing. But for someone who really would rather NOT receive something themselves, it can be the perfect solution. If you know someone well, you may already know their favorite charities and can pick one and make a donation in the recipient’s name; if not, I’m fond of the kind of charity where you can buy something fun, such as a flock of chicks or a hive of bees or a bunch of trees. It adds whimsy to the gift, and gives the recipient something specific to imagine.
Another idea, if the recipient has a yard, is a tree or shrub. A person might feel as if his or her house is overflowing with STUFF, and yet still be pleased to have a blue spruce for the back yard. This might require spoiling the surprise ahead of time, since the recipient would likely want to have input on what kind of tree—but since winter is not a good time to plant trees anyway, a gift certificate to a local shop that sells trees would be a nice way to handle that.
A recipient who drinks coffee is easy: coffee doesn’t add to the “too much stuff” feeling, because it’s a supply and it gets used up—and yet it’s still a treat to receive. Starbucks offers coffee/tea “tours”, where the recipient is sent two coffees/teas to try each month for three months. Or, this can be combined with the charity idea, above: The Arbor Day Foundation, for example, sells coffee gifts that support the tree-lovin’ cause.
For someone who likes to cook or bake but doesn’t want any more equipment, expensive ingredients can be fun to try. Scharffen Berger has a baker’s gift set, and Williams-Sonoma has a finishing salts collection.
I was thinking one of those “wine of the month” or “beer of the month” clubs would be a good idea, but I looked it up and WHOOO BOY those get expensive. But you could go to the store yourself and choose several bottles of nice wines to sample, or a bottle of very expensive liquor.
If you are yourself something of a baker, you could make your own treat-of-the-month club: give a box of brownies or cookies (they freeze well, in case the recipient has too many bakedy things around), with the promise of a treat each month for the next six months. For this idea, one must first spend some time in personal reflection, asking oneself if one is the sort of person whose follow-through skillz are up to this.