Unusual gifts for hard-to-buy-for relatives and friends

Admit it, we all have freaks in the attic that are hard to buy for. They don’t collect Precious Moments figurines or Harley Davidson memorabilia, they don’t like anything anyone has ever given them, they’ve worn the same clothes for years, but hey, you have to give them something cause its Christmas and they are relatives or good friends. Here are some helpful suggestions.

For The Crafter Who Wishes He or She Could Have a Pet, but…


Wants a pet but no responsibility and is into crafting? Let him or her knit their own dog! No high adoption fees, no weird Rescue Group rules about play dates and electronic monitors when you leave the room, just a dog who can be shut in a closet or tossed in the washer when needed.  Knit Your Own Dog.


For the Non-Doctor Medical Know-it-all, Essential Oils/Herbs Healer Wanna Be and Similar


Got that relative who fears all normal forms of medicine and keeps pushing essential oils from their pyramid scheme on you. Scare them back to antibiotics with their own cuddly, plush Ebola virusOther well-know microbes and viruses are also available.

For Those Obsessed With Reproduction


Sympathetic but tired to death of having every conversation, every family dinner, every encounter dominated by obsessive sister-in-law’s desire to reproduce? Family doing only hand-made this year? You’re in luck. Crochet and stuff this nifty Uterus and ovaries set! Comes complete with fallopian tubes. Hopefully s-in-l will take the hint (a card wishing her well might help) but truthfully no one wants to discuss someone else’s reproductive organs and cycles no matter how much they want the other person to be happy. Uterus pattern at Etsy.

And for those who have invented reproduction and parenting (i.e. new parents)


Show me a Mom who doesn’t want her little guys to just go to sleep at bedtime. Although I have not seen this, it was test-read by a young Mom I trust, and apparently it works like a charm. I don’t think any Mom would mind a duplicate copy so don’t worry, just give it. She can pass the duplicate on to another Mom. Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep


Now before you flame me, I’m not at all saying that Dad’s “babysit.” No. Never. But this book is written at Dad-level. Especially NEW Dad level. Especially New Dad Who Thinks He’ll Never See Football/ favorite bar/NBA Playoffs/Indy 500/Whatever again, let alone ever get to be ALONE in the master bed with his still-crazy-enough-to-co-sleep-wife.  Don’t Sit on the Baby.  Another good, helpful guide to Dadland is How Not to Kill Your Baby.

For That Over-Achieving Kid of Your Step-Cousin Thinking About Law School   


Puncture that little gunnar’s dreams of a “Four Corner Office,” [adore that phrase from this wonderful book!!]. Until this year I recommended the classic One L about Harvard Law School. Now it’s Big Law by Lindsay Cameron. With the pressure today of 6 AP Classes and 47 extra-curriculars,  One L just doesn’t scare them like it used to. My go-to book now is Big Law. Hits ’em where they live–in the wallet, the heart, the soul, the ….you-name-it-that’s-dear. Then if SHE defies you and does go on to Law School, give her this so her sense of entitlement will be left at home, Pinstripes and Pearls: The Women of Harvard Law’s Class of 1964.

For those Motor-home Traveling Relatives You See Every Three Years 


While you always KNEW Uncle Murray and Delores (aka “Dot”) were a bit weird, when they sold the Cape Cod and took off in a land yacht to find the country’s nicest sewage-dumping facilities, you just knew it. Guess what? A lot of folks dream of doing what they’re doing, so support ’em with a thoughtful gift, like this camping journal. Like an old-school On the Road With Murray & Dot & the Dogs blog. Handwritten is in. Very cool. Or, as a change from crocheting weird Granny Square slippers that no one wants or wears, give Aunt Dot a Happy Campers Coloring Book so she can join the Grow-up Coloring Craze and take a break from crocheting and from winning electric blankets at bingo halls.

For the Parents Who Can’t Stand Up to their Hellions Children


This is from one of my favorite Kids and Family Catalogs (and this is about as a-typical of their serene, gentle products as your could hope to find) Chinaberry. The Voice Transformer.


For that Type-A Who Won’t Relax But Needs to At Least Not Work More than 23.5/7  mandalaPersonally, I’ve wanted a set of these for about forever. So darned cool. Mandalas–shape puzzles that can be re-done into other patterns or shapes. This one is hand-made and on Etsy.

For the Amateur Psychoanalyst




I LOVE ModCloth! Fabulous retro dresses, quirky decor–just an absolutely fun gift site. Who wouldn’t love to do an Ink Blot test on at least one relative? While the card players are hunkered over their Euker, the sports freaks are in front of the tv, the Star Wars nuts are seeing the new movie for the 80th time this week, get that cousin–you know, the one who mounted and classified his buggers and now lives in his mother’s basement playing video games for profit thru a site in Japan? Yeah, that one? Collar him and get friendly then introduce him to a new game that will take over from “Magic.” He’ll love it. Redstone Inkblot Test.

For the Stay-at-Home Mom Who is Going Nuts


Flasks are so hot this year that ICING, yes ICING, is selling them! This one, though is from Cafepress.ca, another AMAZING gift site. What Mom doesn’t love those retro-housewife Memes? Here’s one that carries alcohol–win-win in the gift-giving stakes. Retro Housewife Flask.

For the Some Day My Mr Darcy Will Come Cousin


Everyone has that Jane Austen (or Star Trek if male) obsessed second-cousin. This year you may fear not when shopping for her. The Marrying Mr. Darcy Game is your answer! And, because she willingly takes care of the cat when you’re on vacation, throw in a Mr. Darcy Doll–this one is even ethically produced!

But Wait! There’s More!

Of course I saved the best for last!


Finally, for the Uncle Annually Voted Most Likely To Be His Village’s Idiot


His Billy Bass wore out, as did his Rapping Santa, so replace it with Yodeling Bacon. Enough said.

Now a Serious Note  on some good ways to  Re-Gift (serious) Books and Children’s Toys (not stuffed body parts or viruses!)

Receive a book you don’t want? Yes, you can sell it. But consider the right kind of re-gifting–no not donating to your library unless you ask and agree with their policy on such donations. One great thing would be to found your own Little Free Library or locate one on the web site looking for donations. Remember, even for free people prefer nice looking, current,  books in good shape. Sad but true, but they do judge the book by its cover (and condition).  In a Book Club? Why not find a spot and put up a Little Free Library with extra copies of the club’s CURRENT and former picks and invite Free Library readers to a pot-luck (carry-in, pitch-in whatever “bring a dish” is called where you live) dinner join the discussion. Build Community. Considering doing it as a street party and get to know neighbors.

Receive 10 copies of the Velveteen Rabbit? The Little Free Library is one idea, another is to found a story basket or corner for children waiting with parents in courthouses or other tedious places. Plan appropriately–obtain permission, select books of appropriate age level for small children. Here’s one example. Always ASK, don’t just dump books on them. Take them to Story Hour at the Library, but take home any that aren’t wanted unless your library says otherwise. See if there’s a homeschool group at your Church or public library, but be aware that many groups have rules about what can be shared.


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