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Gift Ideas for Special People and Special Occasions

Here are a few ideas for suitable gifts for special people and special occasions.


Many adults save and treasure gifts they received when they were babies. When giving a baby gift, therefore, you might want to consider purchasing some trinket in silver or gold. Pins, mugs, rattles, or bracelets that have the recipient’s name and birth date are good ideas. Consider a one-of-a-kind drawing created around the child’s name and birth date.

Another idea is to give the parents a photograph album with pictures of the baby and space for other pictures they can add to through the years.

A gift that will be appreciated by the parents, and later on by the child, is a savings bond or a savings account with an opening balance, giving the family a suitable foundation upon which to build.

Other useful gifts are rattles, crib mobiles, a car seat, clothing, a baby blanket, or a music box.

Mind Your P’s and Q’s

Flowers are appropriate to send the morning of a party or the day after. If sending flowers to a home, make sure the recipient will be there to receive them. Women, remember that it is perfectly acceptable to send flowers to men.

Faux Pas

The trouble with gifts from gift shops is that they look like gifts from gift shops. An exception is the museum gift shop, particularly in the larger museums, where something interesting and/or classy can often be found.


Books, toys, a telescope, magic tricks, simple and “parent friendly” (not messy) craft kits, computer games, and kaleidoscopes are all great gifts.

For a confirmation or bar/bat mitzvah, consider a piece of jewelry with a religious theme. Other possibilities include a subscription to a magazine like National Geographic, binoculars, an electronic dictionary, a nylon windbreaker, perhaps with the name of a favorite team on the back, roller blades, or a skateboard.


Teenagers always appreciate a gift of cash. Tickets to movies or a pop music concert will also be greatly appreciated. Other ideas include gift certificates to music and video stores, a camera, tickets to a sports event, sports equipment, or a portable CD player.

High School Graduation

Graduating from high school represents one of the great turning points in life, a step from school kid into adulthood.

Money, of course, and savings bonds or stock and gift certificates are always appropriate and appreciated. A watch, a leather checkbook carrier, or a weekend travel bag can signal recognition of the graduate’s newly independent status.

If applicable, you can give things to take to college: luggage, clock radio, bed linens and towels, hair dryer, popcorn popper, a hand-held electronic organizer, perhaps with a dictionary-thesaurus included. Also, gift certificates, cash, and tickets to movies or other events are always good ideas.

College Graduation

Knowing the graduate’s plans can help with your selection. If they include graduate school, a gift certificate to the college book store will help. If an office job awaits, a monogrammed leather briefcase may be appropriate. Also consider buying beer or coffee mugs, luggage, engraved stationery, or a telephone-answering machine.

Wedding Showers

Shower gifts are almost invariably things that can be used around the house, such as small appliances. Be practical. Don’t use this opportunity to pick something “she wouldn’t buy for herself.” Asking the bride’s friends what they are bringing will help you avoid duplication and gives you an idea of the price range. Bridal registries are also a possible source of gift information, although they’re used mostly for wedding gifts. Showers may take different forms. Guests may be asked to bring a gift for a specific room in the house. At one time, wedding showers were for women only. That is no longer the case.

If you decline an invitation to a shower, you don’t need to send a gift.


The bridal registry at local stores can save you lots of time and concern. You will be confident that you are purchasing something that the happy couple wants. Shopping early gives you a wider selection when you use the registry.

Couples are registering at all kinds of stores these days, including mega-hardware stores like Home Depot, electronic stores, and record stores, as well traditional home and department stores. This variety opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

If, however, you do not want to go the registry route, you must first set a budget figure. Then consider the following categories:

  • Money, in the form of checks, bonds, stocks.
  • Art objects such as paintings, sculptures, or antiques.
  • Silver flatware, candlesticks, salt and pepper shakers, chafing dishes, frames for wedding pictures, a box engraved with a facsimile of the wedding invitation.
  • Crystal stemware, candlesticks, vases.
  • Furnishings, such as card tables, coffee tables, mirrors, table lamps.

Weddings are also occasions when treasured family heirlooms are passed along to the younger generation.

More on: Manners

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette © 2004 by Mary Mitchell. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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