Your Guide to Giving the Best Holiday Gifts (and Relieving Your Gift-Giving Stress)

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By Erin Pittman

The holidays are upon us and it’s such a joyous time with friends and family. Time to celebrate together, dine together and, for many of us, exchange gifts. Oh, the gifts! Christmas gift giving is so fun and heartwarming, but let’s also be honest for a moment: It’s stressful! Unless you already have the perfect idea in mind, deliberating over the perfect idea for Dad, your spouse, Grandma, your boss and so many others
can turn your joy into palpitations — palpitations that get worse each day that passes without the perfect gift.

But have no fear, we’ve gathered great ideas for Great Aunt Sally on down to the youngest grandchildren. There is something for everyone out there, and we are going to help you find it.

Stirring Up Ideas of Your Own

I recently had a really great lunch with my dad. The food was good, but what made it so wonderful was that I had him all to myself — no pesky grandchildren stealing the stage! We caught up on our jobs, volunteerism and the books we are reading, including one he liked on the topic of stoicism. I think we both
learned things we didn’t know about the other in our 43 years together on this Earth, leaving me with new books to read and a warm heart. If you’re struggling with gift ideas for a certain someone, call them to connect and chat, take them to lunch or meet them for a stroll. Pay close attention to details they share
and see what ideas may arise. It’s been more challenging to stay connected these past two years; reach out.

A few weeks later, my stepmom’s birthday crept up on us, as most of 2021 has done. (How is it December???) Like my dad, she can be a little challenging for us to buy for. She loves Boston Terriers, exercising and orchids. But she wouldn’t be pleased with another dog, has plenty of workout gear, and we’ve done the orchid thing enough times, even if she swears she can never have too many. So, we put a little twist on it.

My oldest son loves LEGOs, I mean LOVES them. He builds some of the biggest sets around and his passion is huge. When searching gifts for orchid lovers, I found an 880-piece LEGO-like orchid. I wasn’t certain whether this would be a hit or a flop, but thankfully it was the former. In this formula, we took something my stepmom loves and combined it with something her grandkids love to equal a unique and special gift that came from the heart. (Bonus points that it’s an orchid she can never kill! Her words, not mine.) What’s something your family member loves that you could combine with something you love?  Do they love inspirational quotes, and you love painting? Are they always cold and you’re the best knitter around?

Gifts for the Special People in Your Life

So, if you don’t have an orchid-loving family member or an avid reader who would appreciate a daily dose of stoicism, where do you start? We’ve got a long list of folks you may have in your life and some terrific ideas for each of them. Get ready to make your list and check it twice.

What Do You Buy for the…?

Working Parent

Working parents would love for you to magically grant them extra hours in each day. Since you can’t make that happen, how about giving a present that gives them the gift of their time? These might include gift certificates for food delivery for those frazzled nights when there’s no time to cook or Mom or Dad are just needed for homework or a science project instead of in the kitchen preparing a meal. Gift cards for car  washes or home services like laundry, cleaning, grocery delivery, organizing or yard work would be welcome reprieves from everyday chores as well. And don’t forget treating the parents to a date night —
dinner and a movie plus a free night of babysitting would be music to any parent’s ears!

Young Professional

Christmas surprise

Now, how about that young professional you know who’s just getting started on their career path but already has their eye on the CEO seat? Professional memberships or a subscription to an online learning platform so they can take courses in their career field may excite them, and subscriptions to magazines like Inc and Success may give them the edge they are looking for. Are they always reading the latest  professional development books?

How about a new Kindle to carry all those books with them and read on the go? Or a subscription to Audible to devour personal growth books on their commute? Eager young professionals will love anything that helps them grow and evolve in their field.

Pet Lover

dog with leash

We all know someone who loves their pet more than they like most people. For these folks, how about a gift card for pet services like dog walking or pet sitting, or a new collar or leash featuring a favorite sports team? There are countless companies out there that will create various items with a pet’s picture on them — think socks, throw pillows, blankets and even clothing. A gift certificate for a photo session may be well received or tickets to an event supporting a local animal rescue event.


Ah, the book lover. The one who is likely to turn down plans to stay at home curled up on the couch with the latest bestseller. Do they have a Kindle yet? How about an old book that may have special meaning with a unique bookmark tucked inside? Maybe they need some kooky bookends to hold up their endless collection or a new journal. And if they are a lover of books, they may also be a lover of quotes. Find a quote from a favorite author, one relevant to a hobby they love, or a quote that describes a trait of theirs that you love. Have it inscribed on a wall hanging, throw, mug or a piece of jewelry.


Teens live in such a different world than their parents and grandparents did at their age. It can sometimes feel impossible to know what to get them. Try an iTunes gift card, a phone holder for their bed or some funky Air Pod covers that make them look like a tiny bag of Cheetos or Sour Patch Kids. School spirit wear
makes a great gift, too — hats, hoodies, sweatpants, t-shirts.

How about a quirky blanket to lounge on the couch with? Find one in the shape of a burrito or a hamburger for a good chuckle. Or find them an inspiring book of quotes to help them fill their Insta stories with great content for the next year. Let them share the words of Taylor Swift, “Just be yourself. There is no one

Outdoor Enthusiast

Do you have that one friend who goes camping every weekend or can simply never be found indoors? Surprise them with a propane firepit for warmth and ambiance wherever they go. How about a portable hammock for luxurious naps at every campsite they choose or a Tiki torch Bluetooth speaker to set the mood at any outdoor gathering? Gift certificates to local outdoor gear stores will allow them to supplement their stash, or subscriptions to camping and RV magazines can keep the love coming all year long.

Adult Kids

Your kids may be grown but you still want to give them things that exhibit your parental love and support. Keep showing you’re there for them with a membership to AAA to keep them safe on the road. Help them cover life’s less-exciting expenses with gift cards for things like oil changes, gas and housewares. Do they
miss your home cooking? Bake them a few things and make them their own recipe book filled with family recipes, so they can begin to cook them in their own home. Pair these with some new kitchen gadgets that will make whipping up those recipes even easier. If they are just starting out on their own, sometimes budgeting for holiday decorations can be tough. Help them build their stash by gifting décor items for each major holiday and maybe a few extra ornaments for the Christmas tree. And there is a subscription box for everything nowadays. Find one they would love and let the gifts continue all year long. And if all else fails, buy them some funky, crazy socks. We hear they are totally back in style.

Health Nut

For those who value health above everything else, try a gift card to an organic produce delivery company. Perhaps a new smart scale that reports every body measurement imaginable directly to their phone. Health nuts never have enough workout gear and totally geek out on trying new activities. A gift certificate for barre, bootcamp or kickboxing classes might excite them. How about a new smoothie recipe book or gift cards to the best healthy lunch spots?


pens pencils brushes

From artists to crafters, creative types love to explore and discover. Pay for them to attend a class in their favorite medium or a new one like knitting, quilting, painting or cake decorating. For crafters, gift organizing boxes to help them tame the clutter. Try online memberships to arts and crafting websites, or give journals and sketchbooks — blank canvases to fill with their creations. How about cooking lessons? Or maybe they’ve been feeling stuck lately and would love a year’s subscription to a meditation app to help them breakthrough their block. You could become their creative hero.


This is where sites like Amazon really have you covered. Search “best gifts for _ year old girls/boys,” and you’ll have a huge list of ideas to choose from. Nintendo Switch games, Squishmallows and fidget toys like Pop Its, Simple Dimples and Infinity Cubes are all popular right now. Jewelry, nail polish and hair accessories
are always fun gifts for girls. Tech Decks miniature skateboards and accessories are popular with tween boys. And all kids get excited to shop on their own, so a small trinket alongside a gift card is sure to be well-received.

Parents Who Have Everything


“Oh, honey. We don’t need a thing!” You’re heard it before, too, right? So, what do you get them? Because you know you’re going to get them something even though they appear to have all they need. Parents love you. Try something that’s meaningful to you.

Send them on your favorite brewery/winery trail and take them to dinner afterward to talk about their favorite tastings. Pick up something from your favorite store in Old Town Manassas and include a note about how you use it and why you love it. Choose something your favorite local nonprofit sells or make a gift in their honor. How about a gift certificate for a future family photo session at a location of their choice? Or provide them with a unique experience like tickets to an event that’s coming to town or a sporting event they’d enjoy. While they might not “need a thing,” you can still get creative and provide some holiday joy.

And for anyone else we may not have covered, we encourage you to shop Prince William. From Historic Manassas to Gainesville and Haymarket to the City of Manassas Park and the Town of Occoquan, there are shops and nonprofits that would greatly benefit from your support. Browse Prince William’s wonderful
antique stores to find those one-of-a-kind treasures, stop into the boutiques to find locally made gifts, and visit our photographers, exercise studios and restaurants to see what they have to offer those you love this holiday season. We wish you all a joyous season of giving.

Erin Pittman ( is Editor in Chief of Prince William Living. She loves dogs, kids, books and all of those things piled in her lap on the couch.


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