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Gift Guide 2017: What to Buy for Hard-to-Shop-for People

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spinner image What to Buy for Hard-to-Shop-for People
Go down the list of this gift guide for great ideas to make you the best gift giver ever.
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No doubt about it. Some people are nearly impossible to shop for. But with a little help, you can crown yourself the best gift-giver ever this holiday season. Just check out these choices for those folks in your life who’ve got you stumped.

The middle-aged cousin you only see once or twice a year:

Trendy water bottle. Drinking more water is on just about everyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions. So why not make it easier for your cousin (or another family member) to do just that with a water bottle so fabulous that it will become the accessory to take everywhere. For some of the trendiest water bottles, check out the Bkr water bottles at

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Grownup food storage. If his or her black hole of a Tupperware drawer is anything like yours, it needs a serious face-lift. Get your cousin some pieces from Lifefactory Food Storage. Made of tempered glass covered by cute silicone sleeves, it’s oven-, microwave-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe, not to mention BPA- and BPS-free. A 2-cup food storage container goes for $17.99 at

Stress buster. Forget the fidget spinners of summer. The fidget cube allows you to spin, push and click all your worries away so that you can stay relaxed and focused. You can buy these on Amazon or elsewhere, usually for less than $10.

The trendy sister-in-law (or sister) you really can’t stand:

Wine for a cause. If she like-a da drink, these picks will allow her to imbibe while giving back. At least 20 percent of every bottle sold from Equality Vines’ LGBTQ Love Wins series will be given to an LGBTQ nonprofit. (Try the 2013 Love Wins sparkling cuvée, $45.) Under the company's Suffrage series’ 19th Amendment label, $2 of every bottle sold goes to the League of Women Voters. Try the 2016 19th Amendment sauvignon blanc for $30; it’s handcrafted by pioneer winemaker Alison Green-Doran, who was one of the first two female winemakers in the U.S. when she first started her career in the early 1970s. 

Wardrobe help. With a Stitch Fix gift card, a personal stylist can choose items to fit your sister-in-law's tastes and wardrobe needs. For $20 a shipment, she can get a regular delivery (the company lets the customer choose the frequency) of new clothes to try — and then choose to buy the items she loves. 

Kitchen appliance. If she likes to cook, a Dash Mini Maker may be the perfect present. These adorable little appliances feature different nonstick cooking surfaces so that she can whip up everything from waffles to fajitas! They heat up quickly and only cost about $10 on Amazon.

The teenage or college-age son or daughter of a close friend:

Personal towel. Small enough to squeeze into your backpack but big enough to take to the beach and lie out on, the PackTowl microfiber towel is lightweight and quick to dry. It comes in all sizes — from washcloth to XXL. It’s easy to wash and pack into tight spaces, and it’s perfect for everything from workouts to weekend getaways. And it’s not expensive. The original towel sells for $9.95 to $23.95, depending on the size. 

Speakers. If you know the young person loves music — and what young person doesn’t — why not get them some waterproof speakers? The JBL clip-on wireless Bluetooth speakers get great reviews and are only $44.98 on Amazon.

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Extra-long nylon charging cable cords. Who hasn’t worried about not having enough reach from a USB charger cable? The teen or young adult in your life will appreciate extra-long nylon charging cable cords, an inexpensive but useful gift for anyone who’s ever wanted to charge their iPhone, iPad or iPod from a longer-than-usual distance.

Your spouse of many, many years who never tells you what they want:

Put a ring on it. Enso wedding bands are silicone wedding bands for active people who don’t want to worry about denting (or forgetting) their actual wedding band while at the gym, shooting hoops with their buddies or performing other rigorous or messy activities. They come in silver and gold (flecks of real precious metals are used), black and other colors, plus in various textures. They have bands for women, too. ($39.99).

A super cuddle. Gravity blankets — weighted comforters thought to elicit feelings of relaxation — are super buzzy right now. Clocking in at 12 pounds, Brookstone’s weighted blanket claims to use the “same comforting pressure as a loving hug.” You two share a bed, meaning you’ll get to try it, too. ($149.99).

A fun game. Feed his competitive nature with an outdoor cornhole lawn-game set that’s perfect for the whole family. You can get a nice set with two regulation-size wooden game boards for about $120 on Amazon, or there are less expensive versions available on Wayfair and other sites.

Bonus. And for the dad who has everything, there’s the BottleKeeper, which keeps beer colder longer. This insulated stainless steel container starts at about $24.99. 

An elderly parent:

Easy-to-use tech. Up Grandma’s selfie game with the GrandPad, the first tablet computer designed for older seniors. It's perfect for a video-chat with family, using voice email in real time, sharing photos, playing games, making phone calls and more. Plus, GrandPad just partnered with Lyft, so it’s easy for him or her to request rides to see their friends, go shopping and more. No confusing buttons, passwords or pop-up ads, and wireless connectivity is built in ($49.99/month; tablet is included.)

Memory maker. Want to make it easy for your mother or father to share memories? Buy them a Zoom recorder for $99.99 and promise you’ll set aside time to visit each week so that you can ask them questions about their lives. You’ll make them happy and probably learn a lot, too! Available for $99.99 on Amazon.

Personal massager. If your parent is suffering from the typical aches and pains associated with growing older, consider a Zyllion shiatsu pillow massager with heat — for the back, neck and shoulders. Available for $39.99 on Amazon.

The pet lover in your life:

Pajamas. You know those families who wear matching PJs? Well, now you can buy matching sets for the dog lover in your life and their beloved pet. FabDog, which calls itself a “fashion brand for dogs,” has debuted a line of matching PJs for dogs and their owners. And they’re just $50 a set. 

Paw washer. Keeping Fido’s feet clean isn’t always easy, so that’s where the Paw Wash comes in. Although there are a variety of products out there, the tube-like Paw Wash applies purely hydraulic action to clean your dog’s paws without the use of harsh chemicals and brushes. It’s also portable, so you can take this with you anywhere you go. 

Selfie stick. For those times when you are trying to hold a dog’s attention for a photo, there’s now a special dog selfie stick that can do just that. Priced at only $13, it’s worth a try.

Hope this helps. If not, just get them all a Starbucks gift card and be done with it.

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