Esther Shaw

Christmas gift ideas for hard-to-buy-for relatives

By Esther Shaw 23/10/2013

Not everyone is easy to please

What to buy for that awkward auntie or difficult dad? Esther Shaw has a few ideas up her sleeve.

Not everyone is easy to buy a present for, especially if you’re trying to keep control of your budget. But you’ll soon be ticking off the list of friends and family with these festive gift suggestions.

Food and drink

Christmas tree shaped cookies

‘For hard-to-please relatives, how about a couple of bottles of good quality red or white wine or a bottle of their favourite tipple?’ says Sarah Pennells from Alternatively, why not use your culinary skills to create gifts? ‘Anything home-made also usually goes down well, whether that’s biscuits, cakes or hand-made chocolates.’ Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

Quirky ideas

gardening tools

Alternatively, rather than exchanging actual gifts, try offering skills or your time instead. ‘If you have green fingers and they don’t, give them a voucher for you to help them in their garden,’ says Sarah. ‘Or, if you’re the creative type, give them a cleverly-framed photo. Equally, for parents of young children, the offer of looking after their children so they can have an evening out might be very well received.’

Tailored for them

butterfly on a flower

If your relative is a keen cook, how about something fun they might not ordinarily splash out on – like an ice-cream maker, a hamburger press, even an attractive little strawberry huller. Or if he or she is an armchair nature lover, how about a bird feeder for the garden or balcony and a supply of bird food, or a selection of seeds to plant that are bee and butterfly friendly?


back massage

Alternatively, buy them an experience through a daily deal site such as Groupon, Wowcher, Living Social and Secret Escapes. This could be a spa treatment, a meal out, a theatre visit, a day paintballing, even a weekend away – and shouldn’t cost you the earth.

Unusual gifts

a wrapped present is another useful site for exhaustive lists of unusual gifts – from dog collars to baby boots – with one of the filters allowing you to zone in on what might suit their personality.


a pile of magazines

If, after all that, you’re still stuck for inspiration, you could always go for a magazine subscription. ‘Most of the publishers have special offers around Christmas,’ says Sarah. ‘You could find your money goes quite a long way.’

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