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Gifts For The “Hard To Buy For” On Your List

Hard To Buy Gifts

Yesterday my nephew and business partner, Scott, helped simplify what to buy the GUYS on your Christmas list (who typically fall under the “hard to buy for” category for me.) Today we’re focusing on the REST of the people who fall onto the “hard to buy for” portion of your gift list.  You know…people like your parents, grandparents, your in-laws, your boss, teenagers, etc.

We decided to consult the “experts”….YOU! We posted the question to Facebook and you didn’t disappoint! We got some great ideas! Then we consulted our friends at Chippmunk.com, the savings search engine that helps save you both time and money, and got even more great ideas! We’ve curated the best of the best of all of those ideas for you today!

Hard To Buy Gifts

Pie a month punch card or just a homemade pie. If you have a pie-lover on your list, fashion a homemade punch card that promises the recipient a pie a month for the coming year! I personally would LOVE to receive this gift! :-)

A few more “food” ideas:

Hard To Buy Gifts

Cooking classes. For the budding chef on your list, a gift certificate to take a cooking class (or two) at someplace like Sur La Table. Even better? Take the class with them!

Hard To Buy Gifts

Trading cards. For a collector, these are truly exciting things to receive! If you read my nephew’s post yesterday you would understand. :-) Recently a friend of mine introduced me to a NEW kind of trading cards! Rising Empress encourages young girls (ages 4 to 12) to discover their gifts and talents through their trading card collection. Great gift idea for the “hard to buy for” tween on your list!

Hard To Buy Gifts

Customized photo gifts. There are lots of places online – like Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, Zazzle, and Snapfish – that will help you easily create personalized photo gifts like a yearly calendar, photo-to-canvas print, even photo blankets and pillows!

Hard To Buy Gifts

Get crafty! Michaels.com, Joanns.com, or HobbyLobby.com all offer a mind-boggling array of ideas and supplies to make those ideas!

Here are a few:

  • Homemade ornaments – personalized for the recipient.
  • Candles
  • Bracelets & necklaces
  • Journals
  • Homemade soap
  • Trivets and coaster
  • Hair bows and barrettes
  • And much, much more…….

A homemade DIY mani-pedi kit complete with nail polish, file, foot cream and hand cream. SallyBeauty.com

A close shave. If you have a local men’s “spa/salon/barber” a nice old-fashioned hot lather straight edge shave is a very nice gift!

Candles. A perennial favorite that you can always find at TheBodyShop.com

Hard To Buy Gifts

Scented body spray AND body lotion. Check out VictoriasSecret.com. Lately I’ve been wearing one of their inexpensive cologne’s called “Tease” (I know, embarrassing! lol) and get compliments on it all the time! :-) I love layering it with the lotion too.

Aloe-infused socks and gloves. So great for this time of the year when dry, cracked skin is running rampant! Bliss.com carries great ones!

Diffuser Essentials

Essential oils. Buy your “hard to buy for” person a diffuser and a kit of essential oils to introduce them to the wonderful world of aromatherapy!

The gift of flowers. This is truly the gift that “keeps on giving.” Especially if you get them a once-a-month delivery of fresh flowers or a living amaryllis. A fresh balsam wreath is another lovely idea that will last a good long time and make your home smell wonderful! 1800Flowers.com  ProFlowers.com

Hard To Buy Gifts

Maid For A Day. For the person on your list who could use a little extra help. Maybe a new mom or someone who recently had surgery. A day of guilt-free house cleaning (because they didn’t have to pay for it!) could be a gift that they remember for a very long time to come!

Cute note pads with pens. BarnesAndNoble.com

Magazine subscription. Buy magazine of choice, attach a gift tag that says, “Good For One Year.”

Tickets. Theatre, sporting events, concerts, beer festivals, etc.  ScoreBig.com

A movie night gift basket. GiftBaskets.com

Hard To Buy Gifts

Charity donation in their name. I love this idea for the TRULY hard to buy for! Like the person who has “everything.” Chances are they DON’T have a charity donation made in their name to the Project Healthy Children, Books For Africa, or Wounded Warrior Project (just to name a few!)

Give “activity/experience” gifts, like going on a road trip and taking someone to a place they’ve never been before.

The gift of savings. Open a custodial savings account for your kids or grandkids. Then each year for Christmas and their birthday contribute a set amount to the account. Then when they turn 18 they will get a very nice gift.

Hard To Buy Gifts

Give the gift of comfort. I know I don’t usually buy myself really “cozy” things, but I LOVE to receive them as a gift! A really nice pair of gloves, a thick pair of socks, a fleecy pair of sweat pants, and a warm, soft knit cap are all great choices. I personally love just about anything from LLBean.com!

Hopefully this list has opened your eyes a bit and given you a few ideas to convince you that those “hard to buy for” people on your list aren’t so hard to buy for afterall! :-)

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • My hubby is the most difficult person to buy for. In fact, he bought his OWN Christmas gift this year because he never requested anything, he just announce what he wanted, said it was on sale, and that he was buying it for Christmas. Ugh!

  • My mother in law… Ugghhhh…. I have some tough people but OMG she 1 has everything.. and 2 tells you not to buy her crap.. The woman has no hobbies… plus she is not afraid to tell you if she doesn’t like something!!!! It’s never fun, that is why I am here.

  • Parents are so hard. This year I’m having the hardest time for my 2 year old. Sounds crazy right?? But she is my forth daughter and everything I would get her we already have! I’ve been stumped.

  • The hardest person to shop for is my sister because on her list she will put things like “books”, and I have no idea what kind of books to get her and she is very picky!

  • Myself. ha! I’m supposed to tell my husband what I want or things I’m strongly considering as a gift I’d like to receive. But I always change my mind.

  • honestly its a toss-up between my dad (who wants nothing asks for nothing and gives no hints lol) and my boyfriend (who wants nothing asks for nothing and gives no hints lol)….do ya see the pattern here????

  • My father is by far the hardest to buy for! He’s retired and if he thinks of something he needs, he just buys it. Can’t think of anything for him!

  • My best friend! She always buys what she needs or wants as soon as she realizes she wants/needs it and she is very generous when she gives gifts. I seem to struggle knowing what to get her each year.

  • Great ideas! After so many years and so many gifts, my dad pretty much has everything. It’s always a struggle, so this is a great list to find something that he wouldn’t think to get himself but will enjoy.

  • My husband! Although he’s amazingly good at forgetting what he gets himself if he has a few weeks between buying and the unwrapping. : ) I have gotten some BIG praise for “perfect” gifts…that he picked out for himself!

  • My husband is truly impossible to shop for. Our first Christmas together included his returning all of the gifts I had purchased for him. He believes that if he really needed something, he would already have gotten it himself. He loves giving gifts to others, but his practical nature has made the past 25 years a trial in the gift department. I loved the blog post because Jillee listed some of the things that my guy would enjoy receiving. Photos and letters from the children are always cherished by him. If you have a “hard to shop for”in your life, the outside-the-box ideas from Jillee are a great place to start.

  • My husband is hard to buy for because he always buys himself whatever he needs and wants. When asked for suggestions, he always says he is blessed and does not need anything. I usually end up with a gift card but that feels so impersonal. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • My best friend is my “hardest to buy for” and I am also hers. We finally decided several years ago that we would gift each other our friendship and remove the burden of one more (tough) gift to shop for. Instead we end up giving each other some small thing that made us think of the other when we saw it!

  • The hardest person to shop for on my list is my Dad! He is such a hard working man, and that is what he does all of the time – WORKS! So he doesn’t really have any hobbies right now. There are only so many clothes, books, and peanuts a girl can buy her Dad! LOL!

  • My mother-in-law is most difficult for me to shop for. Truly she appreciates anything, but she has everything-so much stuff! I like the idea of a punch card for food. She doesn’t like to cook for herself, so that would be something she’d like and use! Thank you for the ideas!

  • My dad is always the hardest to buy for. He doesn’t have many hobbies (and doesn’t need anymore stuff for them), he doesn’t get very sentimental, he really doesn’t like “stuff”. We usually end up giving him a gift card, which he says he appreciates, but I hate doing that for my dad.

  • For those hard to buy for people (husband, parents, in laws), I keep a list on my phone all year of things I hear them mention they would like to have. Then, I just refer back to the list when it’s time to shop to ensure I get them something they truely want.

  • Probably the married sibling couples. We have a smaller price limit and it’s hard to think of a great gift without always resorting to gift cards (although those can be nice)

  • My husband is very hard to buy for. Everyone has trouble getting gifts for him. He buys whatever he wants/needs and doesn’t follow sports or collect anything. These days we get him food favorites. The only chocolate he eats is Hershey’s Bars– one year he got a total 43 bars from family & friends. He also eats quite a bit of nuts–that’s his 2nd most received gift. This year I think his service dog will get lots of gifts from everyone. He likes that because he figures if you are taking care of his dog, then you are taking care of him.

  • The hardest person it is to buy for is my husband. He is a Lego, train, Star War person. He usually has what I want to buy him. So, it is pretty hard
    to find something that he doesn’t have.

  • I have my brother-in-law for Secret Santa this year. He’s definitely the hardest one to shop for out of the bunch because he usually buys himself anything he wants. Four consecutive years of Secret Santa and nobody ever knows what to get him… and now it’s my turn! ):

  • Both my brothers and my dad. because everything they want I can’t afford and the things I can afford they don’t need. I’ve run out of things I can make for them too!

  • The in-laws! They would be happy with anything but I’d still like to get them something they could use/meaningful without it being something that just gets in their way.

  • Definitely my in laws. (Esp, my FIL). It literally feels like they have everything they want/need already. So trying to come up with something new/creative each christmas and birthday is hard.

  • My dad is the absolute worst! He never wants for anything. Not long ago he mentioned how he would like to have a copy of a family picture we all took at a funeral. Instead of giving him that picture, I decided to get him a digital frame and upload multiple pictures to it for him!

  • Hi Jillee,

    My brother researchers everything. Then he purchases the best quality and price he can find. It’s hard to beat his quality goods, and upgrades. Guys are already hard to shop for. I usually buy him some gourmet food and call it a day.


  • My husband- who likes to read- but has so many books and likes only certain non-fiction authors. He rarely asks for anything except his favorite cologne/aftershave from time to time. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • My husband is the hardest to buy for because he never knows what he wants. H usually just asks for the money that I would have spent on him and goes and gets himself stuff. I still try to surprise him with something to unwrap on Christmas morning.

  • I think my mom is the hardest one to buy for. She never wants anything because if she did she would buy it right then for herself. I got her a Himalayan Salt Lamp last year and that was a hit. Mood boosting and decorative.

  • My nieces. I remember presents from older relatives when I was a girl and a teenager. So often they were way off-base. I always appreciated the thought, but there was a lot of wasted money. I’m trying not to repeat that, but teens are tough, even though I teach high school! ;-)

  • I think my teenage nieces. Their parents are a little better off than we are financially, so even when we give money it doesn’t seem like much. I understand it’s not the gift but the thought that counts….

  • My in-loves!! Seriously, hubby’s parents have everything they “need”! They are older and are constantly getting rid of stuff!! They really just don’t make it easy!! I saw a few possibles on this list, now to run them by the hubster for approval!! Wish me luck!! ;)

  • Subscription boxes are a really great gift for the hard to buy for person as well. Many of them are very reasonably priced and you can give them in quantities of 1 month, 3 months, or more. There are so many to choose from and its a nice surprise to get each month!

  • My dad–he doesn’t need anything and anything we do give him, I know I will be cleaning it out down the road or moving it, one way or the other. Food and restaurant certificates are good! Trying to get him moved to town and clean out a farmhouse where he and my mom lived for 50 years.

  • Our kids have a really hard time every year trying to find something for their dad that he would enjoy. He loves tools, but has every tool and power tool known to man. I think Sears calls a few times a year to borrow a tool =) A few times they have made homemade gifts for him. One year they bought a collage frame and filled it with photos of them and he loved it.

  • My adult son is the hardest person to buy for – he is very “low maintenance” (his term, not mine) and anything he needs or wants, he already owns! I’m always stumped, but I must say Scott’s post yesterday was VERY helpful!

  • My dad is really difficult to buy for. He can buy himself what he wants, but he doesn’t. Is having some health problems so just wants to get well, but he won’t. And isn’t feeling up to his hobbies right now.

  • The hardest person to buy for on my list has got to be my father. At 84, there is nothing he “needs” and he has few hobbies other than playing bridge. He does like to go out to eat, so I usually end up getting him several gift cards for his favorite restaurants (and some chocolate because he has a SERIOUS sweet tooth!)

  • My next door neighbor has known me for all of my 59 years and is like a second mother to me. She collects nothing, doesn’t like to cook, doesn’t read any more due to eye problems and has a computer too old to enjoy games. She likes to play cards but does not want anything to assist in the game, ie card holders, shuffler, point pads. Very hard to find something she will enjoy.

  • My uncle. We were never very close when I was growing up and he has a medical condition that makes him afraid of people (even family) so it’s really hard to know what to get him or to find out what his interests are.

  • My hardest person to buy for is my Dad because he likes to shop for us, but never asks for something for himself. I think he would like the gift certificate to buy a plane ticket to Florida :)

  • My father in law is definitely the hardest person to buy for. He’s a pilot and generally has everything that I can think of. The “out of the box” presents are the ones I usually have to settle on for him.

  • The hardest person on my list to shop for is my boss! She is so amazing and does so many good thing for people, I always want to get her something to show how much I appreciate her. Thanks for this list!

  • always my Dad, and my Mom is the second hardest.
    They have everything and coming up with creative ideas every year is harder and harder…but some great ones have been suggested in this blog!

  • My husband is the hardest person to buy for. He usually wants electronics, but he wants to pick them out himself. I like gifts to be surprises. But I cannot surprise him. We share money so he knows when I spend it. Plus he has to pick it out for himself. Argh! ;-(

  • My Mom,.she “don’t want anything, don’t need anything and has exactly all that is left”

    I have made her numerous thing, designed specific to her.I bake, cook,sew and so forth Her response is very flatly “it’s nice but its a waste of time and money that you don’t have and I don’t want it; take it with you’

    This would let her know it didn’t cost a thing!

  • My husband, because he never seems to like the “normal” stuff that guys like to get for gifts, and my 7 year old daughter amazingly enough because she’s the only grandchild on both sides and the grandparents buy way to much for Christmas and leave nothing for US to get her!!!

  • Definitely my 93 year old grandfather. He has everything and the things he doesn’t have are difficult for him to learn. Still young in heart and mind, but the body prevents him from doing what he’d like.

  • My sister. We have gotten so many silly gifts over the years, that we vowed to only get each other things we’d actually use. Unfortunately, I never know what she needs! I was honestly considering getting her an oil change this year–ha!

  • Definitely, my husband. This year, we decided to buy a combo gift (his and mine together). We bought a beautiful, oak, oriental 6 drawer dresser made by Davis Company for our spare bedroom. It replaces a cheap particle board 4 drawer dresser. We couldn’t be more happy…………….

  • Definitely my husband! He acts like he doesn’t need or want anything, so he doesn’t communicate his real needs. I know it’s tech stuff which I know nothing about. So this gift card would rock his world!! I’d be so grateful to offer him this at Christmas.
    Thank Jilly and good luck to everyone!

  • One of my step-daughters (she is an adult!). My wife and I live across the country from the girls, and so have little idea of what this particular one needs/wants. Her wishlist on Elfster? “Don’t buy me anything” contains one item, that’s been on there for over a year (maybe two or three!) “Pens and pencils”. I did the donate in her name the last time I drew her name (Secret Santa). Her mother has done the same.

  • My husband. He buys himself “gifts” year round, says he doesn’t want anything, and won’t give me a list! But he’s a great gift giver, so it makes me doubly frustrated!

  • Can I have 2? My brother and my son-in-law. Both enjoy giving gifts, but truly don’t want anyone to go to any trouble or expense for them. It’s hard to find that perfect something that doesn’t seem you just had to but them a gift.

  • My co worker Debbie! She makes me feel like I’m trying to find gifts for Martha Stewart! It’s difficult to decide what she would love to have that she doesn’t have already!!

  • My new brother in law. He never say’s he wants or needs anything even his wife has a hard time buying for him. He will wear clothing items falling apart and still keep using them. He’s in karate and his pants had a big rip instead of asking for help he stapled and taped them so he could still use them. Luckily I was visiting and was able to sew them to where they have stayed together in one piece by hand. He still wrars them and dosen’t want anyone to buy new ines because the old ones still work.

    This guy is HARD TO BUY FOR.

  • My husband is hard to buy for as he likes to spend time comparing brands/models on everything to make sure it will do exactly what he wants and is the best quality for the price.

  • My Mother is the HARDEST person on my list to shop for!!! She either doesn’t need anything OR want anything and if she decides she does, she buys it for herself, even if it’s DECEMBER!!!!!

  • My cousin. She’s really picky, and she pretty much buys anything she wants. Everyone knows this, so she pretty much has several hundred dollars in gift cards at any given time, lol.

  • My grandpa ALWAYS says not to get him something, but I usually do anyways. He gets angry, but one year we got him a nice laptop so he can Skype and check email/ Facebook to stay connected to all the kids. I’m sure he only does it once a week, but it’s still cool!

  • My husband is the hardest person in the world to shop for! Being a musician, everything he wants/needs is insanely expensive/custom-made/unable to be bought without his help.

  • The hardest person to buy for is my husband! He is very particular about clothes and personal items. Thanks to Scott’s post, I may be able to surprise him this year!

  • Gift giving ideas I have doneA Christmas activities leading up to Christmas Day weather going to see The Nutcracker we’re planning a special girls weekend at a hotel to do our shoppingand having a nice dinner out sometimes it’s the fellowship before that makes the holidays special

  • My dad is frustratingly hard to buy for. He has several hobbies, but always buys the latest and greatest gadgets for them. My mom is an excellent cook, but she doesn’t bake pies much. So I’m loving the idea of a pie a month gift card!

  • My mother in law is always hard to buy for. I never know what to get, although you have given me some excellent ideas, maybe I’ll have better luck now. Thanks!

  • Oh my God, my Dad for sure! He’s into really odd trinkets but God knows he doesn’t need any more xD Does Goodwill have gift cards ’cause he’s a Goodwill fanatic LOL

  • My father is the hardest person to buy for, with his birthday & Christmas in the same month. When I asked him for ideas on what to get him, he answered, “save your money.” So no help from him at all….

    Have a lovely holiday season!!!

  • Tie between my mother and my husband. Mom is tough because if she wants something she’s already bought it. And Hubby because he’s a sensible shopper. He doesn’t understand not buying practical gifts. And I hate practical gifts. You may need socks, but that’s boring I want you to get something unexpected and fun.

  • Surprisingly, I have a harder time with the kids in my family. I know we can’t go wrong with toys, but I know the next time we come over the toy will be in 4 pieces spread around the 4 corners of the house. So, I try to give items like books, puzzles, kid magazine subscriptions, school supplies their parents didn’t get them, etc. Easels and play doh supplies are always a hit as well!

  • My brother is the hardest person to buy for each year. He just buys what he likes and wants all year long so it’s difficult to figure out something he does not already have. Thank you for the great ideas!

  • hardest person to buy for is my kid – he’s at that age where the only things he wants (a car) are expensive, so finding things to go under the tree is tough.

  • The two men in my life…my husband and son. Both of them tend to buy stuff they want and I’m left with all the boring clothes items. Every once in awhile I actually surprise them with a wonderful gift. :)

  • I always have the hardest time buying gifts for my friend’s kids because they usually have EVERYTHING and are hard to impress. They kinda have a look like, “that’s all?”

  • My most difficult person to buy for is my grandmother. It is challenging every year, and many years I’ve done photo gifts, but I’m not sure she really loves them.

  • My son & daughter-in-law….. when they need/want something, they buy it right then, so when holidays/birthdays roll around, they don’t need/want anything. It’s always a struggle.