Gift ideas

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I always struggle to think of good present ideas when someone's birthday comes around. Below is a list of good ideas/suggestions I've had in the past (because if I don't write them down I'll probably forget them).

List of Gift Ideas

Safe Gifts

By Gender

Hopefully it goes without saying that not everyone conforms to these stereotypes, but yes, we often buy different types of gift for boys versus girls... so hopefully this doesn't offend anyone. Don't be afraid to buy a girl a set of hardware tools if she wants them!

For a Lady

  • Flowers ... (especially home delivered!)
  • Lavender products ... (see lavenderfeelsforever)
  • Soft toys ... (something funny, unless you know her really well)
  • Jewellery ... (tips: most girls prefer either gold or silver, and subtle over bulky)
  • Perfume ... (risky)
  • Soaps / pamper pack / massage tools

For a Girl

  • Dolls ... (lammily the realistic barbie doll)
  • Trinkets ... (lucky charms etc)
  • Balloon ... (the type that says "Happy Birthday" and for sale in many US stores)

For a Man

For a Boy

  • Drone ... (see my Drones page - some camera drones are under <1000 and racing ones cheaper)
  • Remote control helicopter ... (you can actually get the baby helicopters cheap ones)
  • Remote controlled car ... (some of these are pretty cool but batteries are an issue)
  • Remote controlled boat or submarine ... (for kids that love boast)
  • Nerf guns ... (great fun, try the 'blaster' for ~$9 - nerf technology has come far!)
  • Dart board ... (can be surprisingly cheap)
  • Football / vortex / badminton set ... (there are lots of little sports games)
  • Model kit ... (boats, planes, cars, tanks, submarines - you name it there's a model kit for it - many which require you to paint it yourself)
  • Ping pong table

Creative Gift Ideas

  • CD / DVD compilation ** ... (music/tv shows/pictures)
  • Photos of them ... (printed on photo paper)
  • Painting or drawing ... (takes time!)
  • Custom mug ... (most graphics design places will put an image from USB onto a mug for <$30)
  • Custom photo calendar / album / keyring / coaster / puzzle ... (try Big W photos)
  • Custom shirt ... (iron-on t-shirt transfer are ~$5 per page + ~$15 for a plain white shirt, or try big frog for same price & quick turnaround)
  • Funny shirt ... (for great designs try:, woot or noisebot)
  • Custom 3D print / jewelry ... (see: here - if you know 3D design you can put their name on something)
  • Custom backpack / satchel ...(see: spreadshirt messenger bags
  • Travel photo bingo ... (see Travel photo bingo)
  • Custom pillow ... (put your face/their face on a custom photo pillow or blanket!)


  • Digital thermometer / weather station * ... (try national geographic)
  • Clock
    • oven timer, waterproof shower clock, alarm clock or fancy digital wall clock
  • Movie DVDs / BlueRay
  • Music DVDs / CDs
  • MP3 player & accessories ... (eg: ipod case... can be expensive)
  • Mouse pad / wrist support
  • Digital TV recording device ... (eg: te-vo etc)
  • Uninterrupted power supply (UPS) ... (can be costly, but useful if blackouts/brownouts are common)
  • WiFi Switch ... (switch to help towards a smart home)

Electronic Gaming

  • Game console ... (Wii, Playstation etc)
  • Game console accessory: guitar hero guitar etc
  • Computer game


  • Posters *
    • movie / hot person / tv / sports / kittens / wildlife - try k-mart and national geographic
    • world map - where they can use pin pins where they have been
  • Party bubbles
  • Magna doodle
  • Battery organizer case/tester
  • Robotic vacuum cleaner (like the roomba)
  • Buddha board (a art board with water than evaporates)
  • Zen garden


  • Electrical appliances: ... (if they are missing something or need a new one)
    • rice cooker, 4 slice toaster, sandwich press, coffee machine, popcorn maker
  • Utensils:
    • fridge magnets (words), food pegs, egg timer, bottle opener, knife set, voodoo knife block
  • Cutlery/Crockery:
    • tea/coffee pot, (wedding gift) dining set
  • Veggetti ... (veggetti cuts vegetables into pasta shape)


  • Nice lamp
  • Vase / sculpture / earring box
  • Globe
  • New quilt set
  • Dream catcher
  • Full body pillow
  • Personalized wooden box ... (etsy)


  • Bath pillow ... (get one from world market or amazon)
  • Electric toothbrush ... (I've even written my own wiki about electric toothbrushes)
  • Dental water jet ... (water flossers can help floss quickly, I own cordless waterpik and quite like it)
  • Weekly pill organizer tray ... (good gag gift, but useful too)
  • Potty squatty '... (potty squatty helps for better poop see video - great for a friend with a sense of humor and/or constipation)

Outdoor Gifts

  • Garden tools:
    • rake, gloves, shovel, hedge trimmer, fertilizing hose nozzle (go to bunnings for ideas)
  • Work tools:
    • jigsaw, cordless drill, tool-box set... (so long as they don't already have one)
  • Plants, herbs, orchids or pots
  • Sundial, solar light, outdoor torches, sculptures, bird feeder, bird bath
  • BBQ set
  • Fishing/boating/camping products:
    • rod, hand reel, lures, net, knife, tent, sleeping bag, compass
  • Hammock ... (hammocks are great for the balcony or between trees... some come with a stand too) **
  • Trampoline
  • Blanket ... (twister blanket especially)
  • Outdoor sports:


  • Inflatable pool ... (for people without one)
  • Pool toys: ... (very diverse these days - just google image search)
    • water gun, inflatable starfighter, banana, diving toys, slide
  • Deck chair
  • Fancy towel
  • Sarong


  • Car first aid ... (every car should have one - many don't)
  • Car roadside kit ... (the top gear one is good - make sure has jumper cables and bandaids etc) **
  • Breathalyzer ... (for moments when unsure) *
  • Flashlight ... see also: Household_ideas > Ideas_for_your_Car

Living Plants or Animals

  • Plant kit ... ("dunecraft" and many other companies set semi-educational kits where kids can grow unusual plant. They also have beans you can grow which say 'I love you')
  • Orchid ... (only if the person loves orchids)
  • Bonsai Tree ... (Bonsais are not hard hard to look after (see here), but good ones can be quite pricey!)

  • Ant farm ... (great fun for kids)
  • Worm farm ... (for someone with a green thumb)
  • Sea monkeys ... (brine shrimp or "sea monkey kits" also fun for kids)
  • Fish ... (fish are MINIMAL commitment animal - you can buy small tank quite cheap and doesn't matter much if fish dies)
    • Siamese fighting fish, outdoor goldfish, freshwater shrimp, etc.
    • Saltwater fish, octopus, baby ray, jellyfish, coral. ... (be warned that saltwater fish are much hard to keep and not for novices)
  • Reptiles ... (reptiles are a MEDIUM commitment)
    • Lizard ... (most need live mealworms to survive)
    • Snake ... (most need to be fed live mice once every couple of weeks)
    • Turtle ... (very cute and can be fed live worms)
  • Dog ... (a VERY HIGH commitment animal: expensive, require heaps of attention, daily walks and won't always be a cute little puppy)
  • Cat ... (a HIGH commitment animal: I'm not a cat person myself - not loyal creatures,but they are less maintenance than dogs)


  • Liquor chocolate! ... (incredible chocolates filled with liquid alcohol, popular in Europe, but can order on amazon: Edle Tropfen brandy)
  • Custom cake! ... (probably the funniest gift I ever got was a pe-nis cake, but maybe you'll want a more tame or creative cake idea!) *
  • Food delivery:

Active Gifts

Exercise / Workout

Meditation / Yoga

Assistance Gifts

  • Fancy hands - a service where you can outsource life tasks.

Experience Gifts

For the person who has everything, there is almost always something they've never tried or would love to try again. Experience gifts are often way cooler than any physical gift you can think of as they encourage/force the person to try something new and exciting. Thanks to sites like google offers, groupon and living social in the US, "experience" gifts are now cheaper and more popular than ever. I recommend signing up to some of these sites for inspiration - most of their offers are 20-50% off and give you several months to use them.

  • movie tickets: movie vouchers, special cinemas, regular tickets, outdoor cinema, 3D movie or tickets to a premier.
  • sport: football tickets... or any other sport: baseball, soccer, roller derby, ice hockey etc - all easy to visit a website and book.
  • music: band/concert tickets, opera tickets.
  • overseas getaway: plane tickets to Vanuatu, ski trip, remote cabin or anything else you might find on living social escapes.
  • relaxing: spa vouchers, pamper vouchers, nail and hair, watsu massage. *
  • heath: gym membership, yoga, tooth whitening.
  • indoor classes: dance classes, cooking classes, art classes, indoor shooting.
  • at sea / water: kayaking*, paddle boarding, scuba diving, jet-ski, para-sailing, fishing adventure, white water rafting.
  • up high: bridge climbing, rock climbing abseiling/rappelling, skydiving, bungy jumping, ropes course, hot air balloon ride. **
  • outdoors: horse riding, paintball, shooting, hiking trip, helicopter ride, scenic flight, etc. (see here)

Presentation is important here... you could just have a little card with a groupon print-out / voucher inside... but it's more fun if it's a clue... like for a guided canoe trip to see otters or Book of Mormon musical you might wrap up a nice $30 pair of binoculars as a clue. Likewise, a swim suit for a trip to a water park, camping gear for camping trip, toy horse for horse-riding and so on. For not a lot extra it enhances the experience of just getting a little envelope.

Visit Gifts

Because visiting a loved one far away is the best gift!

I decided to give this it's own section because it's such a special gift. I had my uncle visit me from Sydney to Cairns for my graduation and it was a really special surprise. Opening the door and seeing someone special that you didn't expect to see... well that's always a wonderful feeling! I also heard and amazing story of a girl who unwrapped a birthday gift box which was a phone/Facetime of her best friend, with the notice that her parents were going to fly her out for a visit, and they both cried they were so excited. So think about it!

  • A surprise visit of a loved one.
  • Surprise trip for them to visit one of their friends!

Funny / Novelty Gifts

  • Piñata ... (k-mart sometimes sells them)
  • Novelty hat ... (drinking hat, sombrero or with text)
  • Blow up toy ... (inflatable animals ~$30)
  • Funny mug / glass ... (like these)
  • Naughty magazine ... (funny to give to single people)
  • Strip mug ... (like this one)
  • Glow-in-the-dark hand cuffs or dice (~$10)
  • Custom t-shirt ... (toctopus I used once, took 3 weeks and bit blurry, but good interface and only $30)
  • Justin Bieber accessories ... (I recommend the singing toothbrush) *
  • A framed and signed photo of you ... (my friend Adam made the whole table burst out laughing when I unwrapped a signed photo of him to "keep beside my bed")
  • Boyfriend / girlfriend pillow ... (has an arm to sleep on)
  • Weener Kleener Soap ... (here and other novelty items like wiener warmers - great laugh)
  • Toilet mug ... (here)

Funny Gifts for Getting Old

On a 40 or 50th birthday here are some (potentially) humorous gifts. Some are riskier than others, so hopefully you know this person well!

  • Old person pastimes: knitting set, bowling, pipe, painting
  • Old person clothes: slippers, pajamas, suspenders, granny undies, toupee
  • Walking cane
  • Pick up gripper ... (actually can be useful - can help save anyone with a bad back)
  • Pill container ... (or some kind of reminder book... actually any funny book about aging is gold)
  • Hospital alert system ... (this one could be a serious gift too)
  • Ear trumpet ... (even on ebay hearing aids are hundreds, but you might track down a great ear trumpet)
  • Adult diapers
  • Dentures
  • Brochures: cruise ship, nursing home, funeral home. ... (the last two only if you're really daring)
  • Urn ... (and I'll stop here before I get into trouble)

Special Occasion Gifts

On certain special occasions (18/21/40/50th birthday, graduation, 10/50 year anniversary, becoming a man) "extra special" gifts may be called for...

  • Engraved watch or pen ... (can be very touching)
  • Swiss army knife ... (a 'Leatherman' is also a good one)
  • Cufflinks ... (some people believe a man should own at least one pair, even though they are rarely worn)
  • Silver flask ... (another old-fashion gift)
  • Yard glass ... (personally I think "expensive, pointless and used only once", but some consider it traditional 21st present)
  • Walking cane ... (funny on a man's 50th or 60th b'day)
  • Personalized plates ... (personalized plates can cost 100s but can keep through life and is option to buy vouchers - you'd hate to get it wrong!)
  • Quilt ... (sometimes done for weddings, but requires sewing skills and/or others to contribute fabric pieces or photos for a service like
  • Massage table ... (the base level Sierra Comfort is an amazing table that folds away and really cheap - spoilt the person or friends you love!)

Baby Showers / Baby Gifts

  • Baby rocker
  • Baby animal onesies
  • Baby radio
  • Personalized baby bibs ... (design online or buy plain ones and special markers to draw funny designs)
  • Books: useful or amusing ... ("How to Traumatize Your Children")
  • Baby shaped food ... (watermellon baby, cake, etc)

Christmas Gifts / Stocking Stuffers

  • Calendar ... (animals / nature safe bet)
  • Fancy stationary

Romantic Gifts / Valentine's Day

On valentine's day, stores are already full of romantic gifts - trying to capitalize on your money of course! But hey, the old flowers / chocolates / balloons are fun. It doesn't have to be valentines day to be romantic though! Flower any day are amazing. More importantly, I hope you've noticed that lots of the gift suggestions so far can be romantic, especially if wrapped the right way. Here's a few extra romantic ideas though.

Group-Effort Gifts

Often it makes sense to combine forces to buy something you couldn't afford alone. A lot of the items above could be group gifts, other suggestions include:

  • GHD hair straightener ... (GHD is the 'Rolls Royce of hair straightener', most girls want one!)
  • iPod ... (a novelty that works and great for people who commute on trains/bus)
  • GPS ... (brilliant for people who hate navigating)
  • Digital cameras ... (some people refuse to buy one for themselves!)
  • Gardening voucher ... (if they in dire needs of a man to come out and clean it up!)
  • Pool table ... (or some other big ticket sports related thing they maybe wanted for years)
  • Something else you know this person is missing or needs fixing - the best gifts are personal.
  • Bicycle or car ... (unless your the parents and/or wealthy maybe a new bike is more in your group's price range!)
  • Plane and/or accommodation tickets ... (somewhere they've always wanted to go - cleverly making sure they have time off work etc)


  • Most gift vouchers ... (unless it's for a spa and papering, or maybe special ice-cream)
  • Hankies or socks ... (unless they are way cool colored socks or toe socks) :-)

Noske's Gift Buying Advice

  • Gifts don't have to be physical - some of the best gifts are too cook someone a big breakfast or take them too a restaurant and/or movie (yes, the idea is for you to pay!).
  • I always like to buy gifts WELL ahead of time.
  • Gifts don't have to be expensive if they are thoughtful and/or creative.
  • Reading through product catalogs often helps.
  • Program all birthday into your phone (or birthday alarm website) so you never miss one!
  • Stockpile some nice gift paper at least three rolls - one plain, one for birthdays & one for Christmas - plus some ribbon in a cupboard.
  • If you strike on a good gift, buy two - keep the second one for someone else (or yourself)
  • I keep a small stockpile of DVDs, chocolate and jewelry for birthdays that creep up on me!
  • Cards are usually expensive (sometimes more expensive than the gift) - buying in bulk is cheaper.
  • I like to print my own cards - I have a template set up and can easily type a personal message, and copy in a nice photo of the person (for a personal touch) and some cartoons (for humor).
  • Buying gifts for someone in a different city is tricky. Small items like CDs, photos and jewelry can fit into an envelope, but most other gifts will cost a small fortune in postage.
  • Novelty items are often only worn/used once, so don't buy anything too outrageous.


  • Amazon gift central
  • Target gift finder
  • Think Geek site - great gifts for nerds with themes like zombies, iPhone, bacon and (of course) star wars.
  • - for daily technology deals, but also has deals for sports, kids, shirts and so on.
  • Ebay - needs no explanation
  • Red Balloon days - offer adventure vouchers like sky diving
  • Big W Photos - allows you to upload photos and custom design mugs (from $17), shirt, keyrings and much more... quite cheap and takes just a few days after order to pickup from nearest big W or for ~$5 more will send anywhere in Australia. There are many similar services (eg: Ted's photo lounge), so it's worth browsing for specials, but almost all of them seem to use the same place in Sydney to actually print, most of them have a similar design interface, and can take take 10-14 business days turn-around-time! Apple seems to have surprisingly competitive prices on photo books see here, but requires you to have a Mac with iPhoto installed.
  • - used these guys to do a few nice A4 photo books. Although it didn't print to the edge, the biggest benefit was they have a fast turn around time (I ordered Wed night Express post $10 and got Fri morning) than the other places, very nice interface.

Acknowledgements: Adam Lasnik for the food suggestions!