christmas gifts

Hard to Buy Holiday Gifts

There are likely some names on your list that don’t fit into a predefined group of friends or family. Here are some ideas for gifts to give this holiday season.

By: Amy Nicole

After writing down all the holiday shopping you need to do this holiday season, there are likely some names on your list that don’t fit into a predefined group of friends or family. Your kids’ teachers and coaches; your boss and colleagues; babysitters or nannies; mail carriers; and even your hairdresser are all people who deserve a little something extra around the holidays for making your life easier throughout the year. Sure you could get them gift cards or baked goods, but why not get them something unique (and budget friendly) that shows them you appreciate all they do for you? Here are some ideas for gifts to send this holiday season.

Mail carriers

If you are particularly close with your mail carrier, give them a little something special this holiday season. While they can’t accept cash and can only receive gifts under $20, you can still think of something special to give them around the holidays. If you know your mail carrier enjoys cooking, consider picking up a cookbook full of new recipes to try. If there is a particular book series he or she enjoys reading, pick up a book by the same author. Or if you happen to know what television series he or she enjoys watching, see if you can buy a season on DVD for them to enjoy – just remember to keep it within the $20 budget. If you’re looking for some more quirky gift ideas, ThinkGeek has a host of gift suggestions for less than $20.

Babysitters and nannies

If you have a babysitter who watches your children on a regular basis throughout the year, it’s recommended that you either tip them or provide them with a gift worth one to two nights’ pay around the holiday season. If you want to send your babysitter something special, GiftTree has a large variety of holiday-themed gifts you can deliver to their door. Some gift basket ideas include gourmet cookies, wine baskets, coffee baskets, and even fruit and chocolate baskets. If you want to send them something more cuddly, consider a holiday teddy bear gift basket from The Serious Teddy Bear Company. Each gift basket comes complete with a teddy bear, gourmet cookies, jelly beans, and chocolates.

For full-time nannies who watch your children in your home, it’s recommended you tip or provide a gift that is worth anywhere from one week’s pay to an entire month’s pay, depending on how long they’ve worked for your family and how frequently they watch your children. If your full-time caregiver doesn’t live near their loved ones, consider purchasing a plane or bus ticket for them to visit their families. If they don’t need to travel home for the holidays, consider giving them a week off work with pay while you’re home near the holidays.


They keep you looking good throughout the year, so make sure that you offer them something nice around the holiday season. It’s recommended you provide a holiday bonus or a gift that’s the equivalent of one session of services (so the equivalent of what you spend when you get your hair cut or colored). If you notice a certain type of décor at your hairdresser’s station, say if they enjoy a certain type of art or have particular figurines that they have around their station, purchase something to add to their collection. You can also give them a gift certificate for a massage to ease those aching muscles from standing on their feet all day.

Bosses, colleagues, and assistants

You probably would be treated like the office Grinch if you didn’t consider buying your officemates something for the holidays. After all, you spend the majority of the year working alongside them, so it would probably be wise to include some gifts for them on your holiday shopping list. If you’re lucky enough to have an assistant, it’s recommend you tip at least $50, possibly more depending on how involved your assistant is and how long they’ve worked for you and the company. For your colleagues, you certainly don’t want to break the bank if you’re buying multiple gifts. Lifehacker has some great gift suggestions for coworkers that cost $20 or less, including whiskey stones for those long nights at the office, smartphone gloves to last throughout the winter, and an Airzooka Air Gun if your office likes to engage in battles to blow off steam.

When considering something to buy for your boss or bosses, you probably want to keep things a little more sophisticated than an air gun. Consider buying them a nice bottle of their favorite type of wine. also offers a wide array of gifts to send your boss, including a custom caricature or bobble head doll; a gadget charger that’s perfect for the exec who is always on the go; or even a personalized frame to hold photos of all of the employees in your office.

Kids’ teachers and coaches

If your kids are at the age where they only have one teacher all day, you probably should buy them a gift for the holidays. Teachers need lots of energy to deal with little ones all day, so purchasing a gift card to your local coffee house will probably be a much appreciated gesture. If you are close with other parents who want to chip in for a holiday gift, consider purchasing a Keurig coffee machine so your child’s teacher can enjoy their caffeine fix at home.

If your child has several teachers or coaches, don’t feel obligated to buy each of them a big gift. It’s recommended that you spend $25 to $100 on each teacher or coach, but if you can coordinate with other parents, you might be able to purchase a nicer gift, like a day at the spa or some new equipment for your child’s sports coach.

Photo: Jan Kalab