Our founder Laura is famous among friends for her perfectly-planned gifts, whether she’s hosting, attending, or sending. Here, Laura shares her best tips for holiday 2017 gifts, including how to create a signature gift you can give to just about anyone.

Anyone who loves giving gifts dreams of having abundant time to create a unique gift for each recipient on our list, whether they’re business partners, party hosts, out-of-town relatives or dear friends. But this fantasy often dissolves when the demands of the holiday season loom large and you find yourself pressed for time and inspiration.

Here are my favorite tips for getting ahead of the holidays and creating gifts you can give with complete confidence.

Tip 1: Create a “signature gift” now, before the holiday rush.  Buy 4-6 of them and keep them in a closet, wrapped and ready to give. 

This gift should be as versatile as possible: something equally appropriate for a party host, a service provider you can always count on, or a relative’s new significant other who turns up for Christmas dinner with a gift you weren’t expecting. These things happen to the best of us, but with a little preparation, you’ll be able to handle them with grace.

Tip 2: Aim for a price point around $50, including gift-wrapping.

Here’s an easy rule of thumb: it’s a bit more than you’d normally spend on a bottle of wine for a party host, and a little less than you’d generally spend on a relative or nanny. But aiming for this price point guarantees you’ll have a respectable emergency gift that will work for almost anyone in a pinch, and that’s the beauty of it.

And don’t underestimate the cost of the wine gift bag, ribbon and card you’d have to grab at the drug store on your way to that party: those can add another $10 to that $25 bottle of wine anyway. So having something all wrapped up for emergencies will be a bargain in the long run.

Tip 3: Pick something that represents you.

Just because you don’t know exactly who will be getting the gift doesn’t mean it can’t be meaningful. If a recipient understands why your gift is meaningful to you, they’ll be even more grateful that you’re sharing something special with them.

For example, your gift message might be something along the lines of “…this year I’m giving recycled Jameson bottle glasses because I love to drink my own whiskey from them and they’re made by a nonprofit I want everyone to know about.” Or “…this season I’m giving these finishing salts from the Oregon Coast, because I can’t get enough of them myself.” Or “Please enjoy my hometown’s favorite salted caramels with a delicious port I recently discovered…”

Great gifters know that it’s these “why” stories that make your gift memorable (and fun to give!).

Tip 4: Gender neutrality + long shelf life don’t make a gift boring.

Candles are a perennial gifting staple because they’re considered a safe choice and have a long shelf life, but they tend to skew more feminine and scent preferences can be very personal. If you do decide to give candles, aim for clean, classic containers and subtle fragrances.

Barware, home entertaining items, outdoor gadgets, and stationery products can be just as universally giftable as candles, but with a whole lot more personality. Think about small items that are fun to collect: salt shakers, interesting playing cards, fun drink picks, party games, ice cream spoons, chic pens & notepads, etc. Don’t gift items as hostess gifts that most people only need one of — no one wants to receive a white elephant they’ll have to re-gift.

Although food items are a gender-neutral choice and often a “go-to-gift” for business gifting, be sure to select food products that will still be delicious at least 6 months after you buy them.

Tip 5: Don’t shy away from whimsy.

Gifts should be fun for both the giver and the receiver. Don’t hesitate to toss in a bit of whimsy. A confetti popper, a classic childhood candy, a simple pin — sometimes it’s the $2 add-on item that makes the gift distinctive and fun.

Tip 6: Next year, get even more ahead of the game!

Congratulations! Following these tips this holiday season can make you a gifting hero while reducing the stress on you. Next year, think about getting even more of a head start.  Vacations are a fabulous time to pick up those unique “little somethings” that become your signature gifts for the holidays. A set of $15 linen napkins you purchased from a street vendor in Laos are more priceless to your friends at home when they know you’ve been waiting to gift them for 6 months.

Here are some examples of great signature gifts from our own collection to get your creative juices flowing…

Knack’s 2017 Signature Gift Ideas

Worth Your Salt, $51

gourmet garlic salt gift

Worth Your Salt Gift Set

This is an example I created with my colleague Deb in mind. Deb LOVES this Black Truffle Salt and uses it on everything from pasta to chicken. Paired with an artisan Walnut SaltBox by Revolution Design House and an adorable teak spoon, this is the type of gift that will be appreciated for years to come. At $51 including box, ribbon and gift book, this “Worth Your Salt” gift set is a great gift to have on hand as an emergency birthday, host or hostess gift.

Peace, Love & Ice Cream, $48

chocolate sundae sauce gift

Peace, Love & Ice Cream Gift Set

This adorable gift set will be appreciated by young and old, since, as the song goes, “we all scream for ice cream.” It combines delicious artisan chocolate sauce with a hand-stamped vintage silverplate spoon from Chicago-based Paka Monk, including the story of how the business was formed when the artists’s father was so sick he could only eat ice cream.  And who wouldn’t think ice cream tasted better out of this nostalgic ceramic ice cream cup?

Black Tie, $50

candle & champagne gift

Black Tie Gift Set

This gift called “Black Tie” might only be good for those 21 years and older, but it’s worth having in your gift closet anyway.  The classic sleek design of this set, combined with the personal story of the southeast Asian female refugee who poured the candle included in your gift, make it a sophisticated show-stopper on all counts.

Peace Of Mind, $70

mindful coloring gift

Peace Of Mind Gift Set

This gift set truly puts the “universal” in “universal emergency gift.” Coloring is HOT right now for adults, and it’s always been popular with kids. Anyone aged 6-106 can happily get lost in this mindfulness coloring book and set of sharpened coloring pencils.  And continuing the mindfulness theme, the insulated MiiR water bottle contributes a percentage of every sale to environmental sustainability projects. 

Snowman Salt & Pepper Set from Pigeon Toe Ceramics, $68

Pigeon Toe Ceramics Snowman Salt & Pepper Shakers

For holiday-themed giving, these hand-thrown snowmen salt & pepper shakers from Pigeon Toe Ceramics are my go-to choice this year.  Adorable, clever and sure to be a treasured holiday heirloom for generations to come, these simply can’t be beat.

The best part of having a stash of signature gifts on hand? Being ready for anything. Plus, you’ll get to savor the feeling of checking something off your list and knowing you’ve got a back-up plan when good intentions fail the test of reality.