The best gifts are chosen based on the recipient's personality, their lifestyle, and their likes and dislikes. Ask anyone about their favorite gift and you will find that cost rarely comes into play.

When it comes to giving awesome gifts, it really is the thought that counts. Try these approaches to creative gift giving, and you'll never be stumped again!

Consider the Recipient

When most people think of giving a gift, they often begin brainstorming potential products or browsing websites or ads for interesting ideas. While this approach may lead you to make a purchase, you may be tempted to buy something you like — but that may not be ideal for the recipient. Instead of starting by thinking of gift ideas, consider first the needs and interests of the person you are buying for.

Come up with a list of things your gift recipient likes — including favorite sports, movies, books or food, and then think about items that would complement one of these likes. Is the chocolate addict ready to be introduced to a new luxury brand or confection? Perhaps the avid hiker really wants to step up to long distance backpacking? Could those new parents really use another baby bunting — or would a home cooked meal be a better option?

Think About Needs vs. Wants

In some cases, giving a gift that fulfills a want is a great way to go. Some items are purely for fun and will delight the recipient. In other cases, a present may not be the first item the recipient thinks of when they are asked what they want, but can turn out to be something they can really use. For example, the ambitious young professional may place more value on a gift that helps him get ahead in his new law career than he would on yet another shiny gadget.

Showering new parents with baby clothing is a great idea on the surface — the new little one needs clothing — but coming up with something they can really use may be even better. Consider a new coffee maker, complete with a pound of fresh coffee grounds or beans to help them recover from long sleepless nights with a new infant. The baby will likely have plenty to wear, and the new mom and dad will really appreciate your gift after a rough night with their newborn.

Remember That Money Matters

Most gifts will require you to spend some money, but you don't have to be rolling in cash to make a great impression. In some cases, you won't have to spend much at all. Most people will not splurge on themselves, so picking out a single, luxurious item you know the recipient will enjoy is a great way to give a great gift without spending a fortune. It does not have to cost much money to give presents that are unique but functional. Consider giving a few handcrafted bath bombs to a frazzled new mom who is in need of alone time, or a pair of ultra-warm wool socks to the police officer who spends cold evenings out on patrol.

Share Your Time and Talents

In some cases, the best gift you can give is your time or your specialty. Your child's teacher may appreciate a few hours donated to preparing craft projects much more than another apple trinket.

Don't overlook your skills! Are you handy with a computer? Consider transferring old family movies and photos to DVD; you can easily create a gift that every member of the family will appreciate. The new parents next door might be coveting some alone time — and your offer of babysitting may be a much bigger hit than an expensive gift.

Share the Thought

Include a note with the gift, or be ready with a verbal explanation. Knowing why you picked out the item is sometimes as meaningful as the gift itself. "You loved this book when you were a baby, I read it to you every night" elevates a simple picture book from an ordinary gift to a great one.


Samantha McNesby writes about creative gift ideas for new moms and dads over at Gifts For New Parents. Samantha is a freelance writer specializing in topics related to crafting, hobbies, parenting, and the home. She has been a professional writer for 12 years, and is the author of several books, including Sewing with Vintage Linens and Baby Couture, and over 500 magazine articles.