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Your search is over: unexpected gifts that work for any occasion

Gift-giving is a time-honored way to show esteem and affection for your loved ones. Nothing beats the wonderful feeling of finding just the right item that compliments the recipient’s personality and expresses how much you care. But between birthdays, anniversaries, housewarming, and holidays, finding the right gift for a picky recipient can also be a bit of a brain teaser. Stress (and search) no more: we’ve compiled a list of unexpected and creative gifts that will suit nearly any occasion.

Gift giving is a deceptively simple art that may seem at times to be very complicated. At the end of the day, it’s about celebrating the personalities of the people you love and making them feel special. It can be hard to think outside the box, but with these unique and thoughtful gifts, what once seemed difficult can become a snap. An unexpectedly giant set of dice can bring the whole family together and get them outside. A chic new cheese board or mixology set can encourage the entertainer to fire up their talents once more, and a sleek phone case can give the busiest person you know a helping hand. Crisp new sheets can help make over the look of an entire bedroom and send your hardworking loved one to dreamland. The gestures we make say quite a lot, and they can do even more.

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Claudia Savin
Claudia is a fragrance enthusiast based in the Pacific Northwest. She has a passion for exploring unexpected and overlooked…
Gifts to encourage independence in tweens
A young teen on her phone with her parents in the background.

Birthday gifting becomes more complex as kids get older and their interests narrow. When the fascination with dolls, superheroes, and pretend play fade, it can be tough to find something to engage that kid who’s not really a child anymore – but not quite a full-fledged teenager, either. AKA, a tween, loosely defined as kids between the ages of 8 and 12. One major change at this phase is a newfound sense of independence. “Because of the change in the way they see themselves and each other, pre-adolescents become progressively more attuned to their peers and less identified with their families and parents,” writes Juliann Garey, a journalist, novelist and clinical assistant professor at NYU on the Child Mind Institute website. For the tween in your life, check out these unique picks that encourage that burgeoning sense of independence and exploration of the world on their own.

Tweens can be a challenging age group to buy for, but a gift that sparks their sense of adventure and independence is always a good bet. This is the age that many kids are getting a small taste of freedom for the first time: walking or biking to a friend’s house, going away to overnight camp, or getting dropped off to play at the local park or recreation center. They’ll love these grown-up-ish gifts that aren’t babyish, but aren’t beyond their years either. From a glow-in-the-dark basketball to safety lights to a travel towel, there’s something for every tween here.

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5 birthday gifts for preschoolers to spark their imagination
usda dietary guidelines kids eating strawberries

Hunting for that just-right birthday gift for a preschooler? You know the one – fairly-priced, educational, fun, sparks joy, and won’t end up in the corner collecting dust? Yes, these unicorn playthings do actually exist. “Some toys have a powerful influence on children’s thinking, interaction with peers, and creative expression,” notes Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, a professor at the Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University. “One trend that is emerging from our studies can serve as a guide to families as they choose toys: Basic is better.” These first-rate toys fit this bill, and are sure to encourage creative, open-ended play. 

If you’re tired of aimlessly wandering the aisles of Target every time there’s a birthday party to attend, you’re not alone! The search for the right gift can feel strangely daunting, with the myriad of plastic and light-up options. While fun and novel, they usually don’t stand the test of time. Take the guesswork out of the equation and go for something simple and timeless like these wooden blocks, LEGO building bases, train tracks, or soccer balls. As the Association for Psychological Science notes, “Toys are the most frivolous things in the world and, in some ways, the most essential. Toys can be objects of solitary attention and entertainment or, far more often, centerpieces of social interaction.” You’re sure to make little faces light up with these high-quality, classic toys.

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Gift guide for every guy in your life
Flat lay of men's clothing and accessories

Does it seem like the men in your life have everything they could ever possibly want? Do you struggle to pick the perfect gift every time a holiday or birthday rolls around? Picking the right present can be tricky, so it is important to think about what he likes. Is he into music? Does he take particular care of his appearance? Is his go-to relaxation after a long day at work to sit down with a drink? Check out this gift guide to find the perfect present for any guy in your life, no matter what his interests are!

Picking the perfect gift can be tricky, and it is important to know the person that you are gifting something to. Do they have any special interests or hobbies? What is their favorite food or drink? How do they prefer to spend their free time? Once you have an idea of what your person will like, search for something they can use to enjoy their time!

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