Gift Ideas For Special Occasions

Trying to come up with gift ideas for special occasions can be stressful, especially during December when everyone seems to be celebrating a holiday. The best gift ideas come when you let the holiday or occasion guide your choices, keeping the personality and interests of your recipient in mind.

December Holidays

December is a busy time of month for people looking for gift ideas for special occasions. The December holiday season has a number of different holidays, many centering on religious celebrations or cultural traditions. Most of them involve family gatherings, community celebrations and gift giving.

In December, people of the Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah, which is a nine-day celebration of the taking back of Jerusalem from a Syrian tyrant in 165 B.C. African-Americans observe Kwanzaa, which is not a religious holiday but a seven-night cultural festival that begins on December 26 and lasts until New Year’s Day. Christians celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December and on December 8, Buddhists observe Bodhi Day, a celebration of Buddha’s enlightenment.

If you’re searching for gifts for the December holiday season, your options are limited only by your time and budget. Most stores have holiday sales starting the day after Thanksgiving and continuing all through December. If you prefer to give homemade gifts, baked goods or gift baskets of gourmet coffees, teas or wine are especially popular at this time of year.

While the holiday season is secular and commercial for many people, the religious holidays have a deep and personal meaning for others. If a person on your shopping list is very religious, the best gift ideas may center on his beliefs. For example, a Roman Catholic may enjoy a new nativity set or a set of rosary beads. Christians of any denomination may appreciate a new Bible, a CD of worship music or a Christmas tree ornament with a Bible verse inscription. People celebrating Hanukkah may appreciate a new menorah or a gift basket containing kosher wine and gourmet latkes (a traditional potato pancake strongly associated with Hanukkah).

If you’re not sure the person would appreciate a religious gift, stick with more commercial or homemade non-religious gift items.

Birthday Gift Ideas and Other Milestones

Coming up with birthday gift ideas for children is particularly easy. Toys, books and games are easy to find online and they can be gift wrapped and mailed directly to the recipient.

For other personal milestones such as a graduation or a retirement, celebrate the person receiving the gift. Use personal interests as a guide to gift ideas for special occasions like these. Some people have online wish lists that you can use to guide you if you don’t know the recipients well enough to choose something you’re sure they’ll like. These are similar to bridal registries and are growing in popularity among college students and young couples.

If your recipient’s hobbies are music-based, the best gifts might include a new CD, downloads of favorite tunes or tickets to see a favorite artist in concert. Sports enthusiasts are likely to enjoy new sports equipment, sports jerseys for their favorite teams or tickets to a game. When all else fails, gift cards are always welcome, although many resist the temptation to give what is essentially a cash gift.

College bookstores can help with holiday and birthday gift ideas for students. You can send gift certificates for textbooks, supplies or equipment. High school seniors on their way to college can benefit from your contribution too.

For friends and family struggling to make ends meet, gift cards or gift certificates to use at grocery or department stores make the best gift ideas of all.