So we've all been there before, blindly roaming the shopping centre trying to find that perfect gift for your partner/mother-in-law/dad without a clue what to get them. The truth is, you can still put together a really thoughtful gift for someone at any budget, even if you are stuck for specific gift ideas. Here are some ideas which will hopefully inspire you in your time of need.
Scrumptious Gourmet Gift Basket While this may sound like a generic gift idea, it's actually a very personalised and thoughtful present if done the right way. Start off with a fancy box, cane washing basket or even a new esky to hold all your goodies and then the real fun begins.
If you aren't quite sure where to start, then visit your local bottle shop and head for the international beer isle. Most of the larger liquor stores carry a great range of international beers which can be bought individually with funky labels and strange shaped bottles. You might choose some of their favourites, mix it up with beers they have never tried before or pick a selection from places they have traveled to. A nice bottle of wine or some cider to drink over the summer, is a good alternative for non-beer drinkers.
Next head to the gourmet section of the supermarket for some tasty treats. Some of my favourites include Bacci chocolate, Dutch biscuits, tapanades, specialty crispbread, chocolate coated coffee beans, San Pellegrino (limonata) and European cheeses. As a guide, I pick out the gourmet version of some of their favourite things and add a few new treats to try.
For a bit of fun you can also add some essentials which wouldn't really be suitable as presents on their own such as socks, golf balls, beach towel etc - these can all be added to the gift basket.
Stuff the bottom of your basket/esky with some crepe paper to make a nice soft surface to place everything in and arrange all your items. Some cellophane and ribbon is a nice way to wrap and finish off your basket.
Homemade Delights If you have a few people to buy for or you feel like getting creative in the kitchen, then you can put together some great presents which your friends can enjoy for weeks to come. Usually I like to put together a trio of recipes and package them up together. You can use jars saved up from around the house or head to Ikea's kitchen accessory department. They sell some perfect little jars at a great price. My favourite recipe ideas include jams, chutneys and candied orange. These all keep for a few months if you sterilise your jars first, so they make great gifts.
If you have never made jam before, then you wouldn't believe how easy it is. I recently had a box of ripe mangoes and some frozen passionfruit left from our vine last season so decided to whip up some jam. This recipe can be swapped around with any fruit you have handy at the time.
Step 1. Chop about 5 mangoes into small pieces and scoop out the pulp from 4 passionfruit.
Step 2. Place into a saucepan over a medium heat.
Step 3. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and the juice of one large lemon (you can use up to a cup of sugar, but I like to keep the sugar levels low).
Step 4. Bring to boil stirring occasionally.
Step 5. Add 1/2 a cinnamon stick and one star anise (remove these from your fruit after ten minutes to avoid overpowering the flavour).
Step 6. Reduce the heat and let simmer for approximately 30 minutes until a thick jam consistency.
Step 7. Bottle whilst hot into sterilised jars.
It's really that easy and paired with a couple of other homemade condiments, this is a very thoughtful present for friends and family.
Plan a Special Night Out Many people just don't think of themselves often enough and get out to enjoy what the city has to offer. You can package up a fun night out as your gift to them and tailor it to suit their tastes. The possibilities are endless: a movie, theatre show, concert or simply dinner and drinks at a nice restaurant - most places will put a gift voucher together for you.
Think about how they are going to get there and home again, a night in a nearby hotel is always a real treat or you can arrange a cab voucher or even your own personal chauffeur services. If they have kids, you can offer to babysit as well so they have no excuses to get out and enjoy themselves.
If you are on a tight budget, then keep an eye on the group buying sites such as Scoopon for a good offer and work your idea around that. There are also some great cheap and free events around the city as part of local council or city festivals which you can work with, then you can put together a gourmet picnic basket and arrange for transportation to and from the event.
Small details such as a few drinks at a cool little bar across from the theatre before the show and pre-arranged snacks for the intermission, really help to make the night special. The best thing about this present, is it gives them something to look forward to after the excitement of their birthday or Christmas has died down.
Hopefully some of these ideas have inspired you to create a memorable present for that impossible person to buy for. I would also love to hear some of your ideas below.