23 Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People in Your Life in 2023

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Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People in Your Life
If you're wondering what to get for the annual office gift exchange, here are some ideas. (Stock photo)

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Choosing the perfect gift for everyone on your list can be a daunting task, especially when you’re faced with trying to buy for folks you don’t know well or who seem impossible to shop for.

Our list can help. From unique gadgets to thoughtful treasures, these suggestions will ease your gift-giving guesswork and be a hit for even your pickiest friends and loved ones.

Gifts for Your Bestie

Succulent gift box

Not everyone is cut out to be a plant person, but for the person in your life who would love to showcase some succulents, this Succulents Box gift box could be a great solution. Help your friend add a splash of green, even if they don't have a green thumb.

Socks & Underwear

Hard-to-shop-for people still need socks and underwear, but you can make it fun and surprising. Stance offers monthly subscription boxes of socks or underwear, with an option for everyone. For $19, you can choose between a monthly or quarterly subscription. You also can snag some fun holiday options without a subscription while ramping up your sock and underwear game.

Statement Earrings

This handmade jewelry from Honey Bea Hive can both make a statement all on its own and about how well you know the person for whom you're shopping. Which set looks the most like something they would love? With plenty of options, this military-spouse and minority-owned brand has been featured in BuzzFeed.

Aaptiv Gift Membership

Athletes and gym rats love new ways to work out and stay motivated. For the person constantly on the move, an Aaptiv membership will help keep them sweating. Unlimited access to more than 6,000 workouts across 15 categories are available on your smartphone for $50 for the year. The app works with Android and iPhones.

Copper Cow Coffee

Fancy coffees are fun, and even more fun when you can make them at home for a fraction of the cost. Copper Cow Coffee offers single-serve, pour-over coffees that are sustainably sourced and customizable. They come in a variety of flavors -- including peppermint mocha and churro -- and can be paired with natural creamers. Variety packs and teas also are available from this female-owned company.

Gifts for Extended Family

Ticket to Ride Board Game

Board games are the perfect gift for the whole family. They promote spending time together and avoid the pressure of buying a gift for every person in that family. You also don't have to remember exact ages, just a range for your second cousin's kids. One great idea is Ticket to Ride, a strategic game where players connect cities on the map with trains. It's also educational. There's a variety of options, including Europe, Asia and a junior version for those families with younger kids. The game is available at Target and Amazon.

Magic Puzzle

Put a twist on the puzzle-giving experience by upping your game from "dogs playing poker" to the Magic Puzzle. These 1,000-piece puzzles have games within games. Build the puzzle, which has more than four corners; go on a hunt for all the cool items on the list; and then prepare for your mind to be blown when you open the secret envelope at the end. It's a wonderful family activity that may just save the day.

Card Games

Grandma may have taught you to play canasta, but now it's your turn to teach her something fun. Beyond Uno Attack and Phase 10, there are the next-level card games that even those hard-to-please teenagers will enjoy. Options like Exploding Kittens, Unstable Unicorns, Taco vs Burrito and Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza are guaranteed to have everyone laughing as they learn to play. These games are available at Target and Amazon.

Craft Liquors

There are a lot of veteran-run, veteran-owned distilleries out there, serving up everything from whiskey to vodka and beyond. What's great about tiny Eight Oaks Farm Distillery is that it’s a veteran-owned craft distillery in rural Pennsylvania, serving up gins, bourbons, ryes, rums and even applejack -- the liquor that won (and maybe helped inspire) the American Revolution. Run by Chad Butters, a retired Army veteran, Eight Oaks has a number of small batch offerings, like agave liquor and aged rums, brewed up just like their forebears used to make, growing the grains for their products right there on the farm.

Gifts for Tweens & Teens

'Game of Phones'

No, we don't really want them on their phones all the time, but if they're going to be anyway, let's make the best of it. This game brings teens and their phones -- and maybe parents, too -- together for a scavenger hunt. And one of the cards tells you to "text your parent," so this may be a winner.

Portable Hammock

Portable hammocks are all the rage, and you might like this easy-to-use ENO hammock so much you get one for yourself, too. The hammock paired with the straps is a quick setup nearly anywhere. From hanging out at cross-country races to use at the campground, these hammocks take a beating and are easy to pack and store. See the full setup on Amazon.

Self-Cleaning Water Bottle

It's cool to drink water and put stickers on your water bottles -- another thing we did as kids that they don't want to hear about. But it's less cool when you find their water bottle collection under the bed. Prevent the grimy grossness by getting them one of these self-cleaning water bottles. The UV-C LED lights clean the bottle inside and out, and the bottle keeps drinks warm for up to 12 hours and cold for up to 24. They'll love it, and you'll love it. It's available in several colors.

Terrarium Kit

A terrarium kit is a sensory-rich, screen-free gift that can let kids take charge of a mini ecosystem while learning about soil and plants and creating their own little green world. Gardening and tending to a terrarium can have therapeutic benefits for kids, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Most of these kits range from about $8 to $30. This popular version, at $16, features glow-in-the-dark forest figurines.

Ideas for the Office Gift Exchange

Smart Plugs

We're all about "working smarter, not harder," and everyone can use a smart plug to add to their collection. Starting at about $12 for the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini, they can allow everything from the television to the bedside lamp to become voice activated through Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. A variety of smart plugs are available on Amazon.

Tea Mug & Infuser

A beautiful and practical gift, the Sweese tea mug and infuser is great for the winter gift-giving season. The handle stays cool to the touch while the tea steeps, and it's dishwasher safe. It comes in a variety of colors -- check out the red or navy -- and you can pair it with loose-leaf tea for the perfect gift.

Desktop Vacuum Cleaner

This small desktop vacuum will become the most favored gadget in the office. It's quiet, charges via USB cable, and is perfect for getting the crumbs out of your keyboard or some quick cleaning at the end of the day.

Makeup Brush Cleaner

Did you know that cleaning makeup brushes is something you should do? Here's an option for the office party: the automatic brush cleaner and dryer from Senbowe. Plus, it has storage. An easy-peasy, practical and thoughtful gift. Clean makeup brushes are a must.

Shop Small with Military Spouse-Owned Businesses

A Little Bit of Everything


If you're just looking for ideas and don't know just what to look for, the milspouse-owned and -operated Spouse-ly is a great place to start. The platform gives you a one-stop shop for the best military gifts, including art, apparel and jewelry. All of the companies featured on the platform are owned by military spouses and/or veterans.

Witty Designs

This is another annual favorite. If you live near Fort Liberty, North Carolina, you can shop in person. If not, you can see all the goodness that Pressed, A Creative Space has to offer online. From graphic tees and sweatshirts to stickers and planners, there are many great military gifts to choose from.

Custom Jewelry

Hope Design's custom military jewelry is a favorite among many military spouses with one-of-a-kind brooches utilizing vintage military insignia and inspiration and a variety of other collections featuring necklaces and bracelets.

High-Quality Canvas and Leather

Another regular favorite, R.Riveter, features handmade butter-soft leather and canvas wallets and handbags for men and women. These high-quality pieces hold up over time and get better with age.

Handbags and Accessories

Made with women of color in mind, Mygani trolley bags, handbags, mugs, throws and accessories make a statement while providing practicality and function. And with a gift section featuring items $30 and under, there are options for every budget.

Unique Art for the Home

Relocation is the name of the game in military life, but this license plate art from Unique Pl8z gives a thoughtful way to remember duty stations past. Pick a standard product or design your own.

Blake Stilwell and Tiffini Theisen of Military.com contributed to this report.

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