Help! What do I give my ______?!

Since we’re in the gift business, we’ve seen and heard it all when it comes to other people’s holiday gift conundrums. With the abundance of online shopping resources and a growing collective desire to give unique, meaningful items, holiday gift giving should be easier than ever. If you’re still tripped up by the recipients on your gift list–especially if you don’t know them well–finding Christmas gift ideas for your brother’s girlfriend or your in-laws can feel daunting. We’ve put together a 3-part series on solutions to some of the most common family gifting dilemmas so you can approach the holidays feeling completely confident.

Holiday gifts for your family–and almost-family

In this post, we’ll cover Christmas gift ideas for family members. Keep any of these tips in mind and you’ll be well prepared to shop for your significant other’s family, your sibling’s significant other, your distant cousin’s kids, the college student you hardly recognize, and the grandparents who have everything. Hey–that’s practically half your gift list crossed off already!

3 gifts to give your significant other’s family:

Whether you’re an old hand at their Christmas traditions or spending your first holiday season with their family, finding the right gift for your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents can be a serious source of gifting anxiety. You want the gift to make a positive impression without trying too hard; it should feel simple, but significant. If you’re visiting for Thanksgiving or Christmas, a seasonal gift like A Turkey For Your Table is thoughtful and easy, as the items are both useful and thematic. If you’d rather steer clear of holiday items, The Cheese Course is an excellent choice for a gift they can use year-round for fancy or casual dinners.
The runner-up: As long as you have a sense of their tastes, a food and wine gift for your partner’s parents never fails. This festive Champagne & Caramels gift is a hit with everyone.

3 gifts to give your sibling’s significant other:

Meeting the siblings can be almost as intimidating as meeting the parents. If your brother or sister is bringing someone home for the holidays for the first time, don’t leave their new partner off the gift list! Your gift should make them feel welcome, which can be tricky if you’ve never met. A good strategy for this kind of gift is to keep it light-hearted (but not sarcastic or flippant–they’re already nervous enough!) and show that it’s an extension of friendship. Pick a neutral but special gift like The Perfect Coffee Break or Peace, Love & Ice Cream–they’re useful, interesting, and not too personal.
The runner-up: What kind of gifting experts would we be if we didn’t acknowledge that you might not be the biggest fan of your sibling’s sweetie? Whatever you do, don’t leave them out during the holidays if this is a serious relationship, as this can lead to unnecessary tension. Make it easy on yourself: sweeten them up with gourmet caramels, chocolate, or baked goods. A single specialty item can still be a lovely gift, and it’s a low-pressure offering that almost everyone will love.

3 gift ideas for your distant cousin’s kids:

If you’re traveling for the holidays and staying with family, you probably already have a stash of go-to hostess gift ideas for the adults. But what about your second cousin’s kids, who were mere toddlers the last time you visited? Especially at Christmas time, you should certainly bring or send a gift for them. Make it fun, show you remembered them, and for their parents’ sake, get creative–give the kids a gift that doesn’t light up, make noise, or require batteries, and you’ll definitely be invited back. We love this wooden Tic Tac Toe Set, or the Creative Notions gift set for hours of imaginative fun.
The runner-up: Kids a little younger? This duckling gift is unisex, useful, and downright adorable.

3 gift ideas for the college student home for the holidays:

When your college student comes home for winter break sporting a new piercing and reading Plato or bursting with excitement over being elected fraternity social chair, you might feel like you barely know them. Just know that there’s no reason to panic about their gift–look for something that acknowledges their newfound independence, shows how glad you are to have them home, and gives them an excuse to have fun that they’ll also find useful. Some of our top gifts for college students this season are Hammock & Chill, Battle of Wits (provided they’re of age–if not, swap the canned wine for delicious natural sodas), and Creative Coffee Break.
The runner-up: If you’ve got a bookworm who can’t WAIT to read something that wasn’t on the syllabus, check out our Book Lover’s collection for gift sets that feature some of the latest new releases and soon-to-be bestsellers.

3 gift ideas for the grandparents who have everything:

If your go-to gift for your grandparents is anything like ours, chances are you’ve given them a lovely, framed family photo for as long as you can remember. If you want to branch out this year, give something original, useful, and materially low-impact–many grandparents may be looking to downsize their belongings, so the latest and greatest gadget may not be the right choice. Instead, consider giving one of these clever mid-century Bird Homes (you’ll offer to hang it up for them, of course?), or an Indoor Herb Garden so they can keep up with their favorite hobbies all year round.
The runner-up: These snowmen salt & pepper shakers are as decorative as they are useful, and full of holiday cheer.

Got a question or gift dilemma we didn’t cover here? Ask one of our experts! Submit your trickiest gifting questions and one of our gift concierges will send you 3 gift ideas in 30 minutes or less.