Shopping·10 min read

Gifts For People You Don’t Know Well

best holiday gifts for people you don't really know well
Photo: Brittany Sturrett | Credit: theSkimm
November 1, 2021

The coworker you’ve only met via Zoom. The in-laws you’ve seen at family gatherings just once or twice before. Your kids’ teachers. No matter how much you appreciate these people, shopping for someone you hardly know is undeniably difficult. So wipe that sweat from your brow. Because we rounded up the most universally appealing, completely foolproof gifts that’ll make the acquaintances in your life feel special. *Adds to cart*

Want more holiday gifting ideas? Check out The Sleigh List — our guide to the perfect gifts for everyone on your A-list.

A must-have book

A must-have book for anyone who loves to globe-trot…  

Even the most well-traveled can take a tip or two from the GOAT. Anthony Bourdain’s posthumous release chronicles his many travels and offers tips about what to eat, where to stay, and what to avoid when hitting the road. It also includes essays from friends and family members, which will help your giftee get a deeper look at the man behind the screen. Bon voyage. ($26.81, Amazon)

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A retro-inspired speaker

A retro-inspired speaker with contemporary appeal… 

Because music is the best way to bring people together. This may look like a gadget of yesteryear, but with Bluetooth, a built-in rechargeable battery, and nine hours of play time, its modern functionality shines right through. Dance party, coming right up. ($34.90+, Amazon)

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Flannel PJs

Flannel PJs they’ll never want to take off...

Because they’re warm, cozy, and wayyyy too IG-worthy to pass up. These sets from Old Navy put the ultimate “win” in wintertime. And come in tons of adorable prints their whole fam can match in. Including, that’s right, a glow-in-the-dark style. Thank you for asking. You can snag ‘em in petite, regular, and tall sizes. From XS to 4X. Jammer time. ($39.99, Old Navy)*

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A houseplant

A houseplant that basically takes care of itself… 

It doesn’t matter how green their thumb is. This air-purifying plant can handle low light and only needs water every two to three weeks. It comes in a recycled plastic pot complete with a drainage hole. Now that’s what we call a fail-proof holiday gift. ($57+, The Sill)

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Artful coasters

Artful coasters to dress up any coffee table…

These natural sandstone ones will keep sweating drinks from ruining their surfaces. They come with a cork backing that’ll protect against scratches and scuffs. And because they’re mined from stone formations, no two are ever alike. ($20.06+, Amazon)

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cheese board

A multilevel bamboo cheese board with accompanying knives… 

This one opens up to four tiers — which means there’s plenty of space for cheese, cheese, and more cheese. And all the fruit, nuts, and crackers, too. Because everyone appreciates a good spread with fixings. One tier even has hidden storage for the three stainless steel serving tools it comes with as well. And for more of our holiday faves from Uncommon Goods, shop here. ($45+, Uncommon Goods)

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A wine chiller

A wine chiller for the stylish yet functional person you’re shopping for...

Ice cubes? Who needs ’em. This natural marble bucket keeps the temp down, so they can linger over their wine. Did we mention how elegant it is? Cheers. ($39.99, Amazon)

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Vino that’ll make ’em say “Aww, you shouldn’t have”… 

Wine’s a standby gift option for a reason. But rather than pluck a bottle from the grocery shelf and pray it’s a solid one, try ordering from Wine Access. The entire selection is curated by master sommeliers and other leading wine experts. You’ll get a quality bottle at an amazing price — sans all the stress. We’ll drink to that. (Prices vary, Wine Access

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artful bubble candles

A pair of artful bubble candles to spruce up any space… 

Because candles = guaranteed crowd-pleasers. It won’t be hard for your giftee to find a home for these unique ones. Whether on a bookshelf or a coffee table, this playful, soy wax pair will fit right in. Plus the scents can’t be beat. The white is freesia; blue is bluebell. ($13.99+, Amazon)

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mini jars of different flavored honey

A whipped honey sample for when you’ve already maxed out on olive oil and wine…

Here’s something to buzz about: a three-pack of 100% pure honey. They'll get to try the original flavor plus cinnamon and chocolate. All three sound delish so it'll be hard to choose. BTW — they're all kosher and gluten-free. Everything tastes better with a little sugar. ($33.99/3 pack, Amazon)

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An elegant set of knives

An elegant set of knives to elevate any charcuterie board… 

The wrong utensils put a damper on even the most artful cheese spreads. This stainless-steel set does just the opposite. There’s a knife for every type of cheese: soft, semi-soft, spreadable, and hard. Dig in. ($15, Bed Bath & Beyond)

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A compact matcha kit

A compact matcha kit that’ll save them time and money in the AM… 

Do your giftee a solid with this travel mug that brews barista-quality matcha on the go. All they’ll have to do is scoop one of three flavored matcha powders into the filter, top with warm water, and shake, shake, shake. Mornings made easier, courtesy of you. ($49, DavidsTea)

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Coffee candle

A coffee-scented candle so they can enjoy that magical smell at any time… 

Because they can only drink so much coffee, give ’em the gift of that freshly brewed scent all day. This 8-ounce soy candle has notes of coffee, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate...aka heaven. It’s chemical- and additive-free for a clean 50-hour burn. And they’ll think of you every time they light it up. Cup of jo(y), incoming. ($24, Pretty Honest Candles)

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A portable coffee cup

A portable coffee cup that’s actually practical… 

Nobody likes single-use plastics. Something else nobody likes? Lugging around an empty thermos. Enter this collapsible silicone coffee cup that holds 12 ounces of java and folds flat once they’re done sippin’. Bonus: It comes in 20 different color options. ($15, Amazon)

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A geometric Piet Mondrian calendar

A geometric Piet Mondrian calendar to help them remember what day it is… 

Let’s be honest — that WFH life makes it hard to keep track. Enter: this mod block-style calendar that lasts forever. They just have to flip over the cube, and reuse it year after year. And it’ll never go out of style. ($25, The Met Store)

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Olive oil

Olive oil that looks just as great as it tastes…

A sure hit with any home cook, this EVOO duo from Brightland goes with just about anything. We’re talking bread and pasta, grilled veggies, or salad dressings. Plus, the olives — which are sourced from a family farm in California — are pressed within 90 minutes of farming to ensure freshness. Can you say delicious? (PS: From now until Dec 13, you can get 10% your purchase with code DUOSKIMM.) ($74, Brightland)

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Wine-infused dessert sauces

Wine-infused dessert sauces that’ll bring new meaning to the word “nightcap”...

Chocolate or caramel sauce is already hard to pass up. But one made of spices, whole fruits, and zinfandel or merlot? Good luck. These small-batch sauces don’t contain alcohol, but just a subtle, fruity wine flavor. Perfect for drizzling on ice cream, cheesecake or even yogurt. ($17, Uncommon Goods)

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*This denotes a sponsored section. 

If you buy anything from this article, theSkimm may get something in return. Oh, and if something’s out of stock, oops, it was there (and all prices were accurate) when we published. Thanks.

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