This is the last of my Christmas gift posts for 2022. I don’t think any of us are planning to go overboard on ‘stuff’ this year and it won’t be a bad thing if Christmas is recalibrated back to being more about a meaningful time with people we love than the madness of obligation that it’s become since we were children. So today I’ve pulled together some ideas for gifts for the hard to buy for. We all have people in our lives who have everything they want or need… and yet it’s still good to put a smile on their face on Christmas Day with a little something that shows that we know and care for them.

Before I start though I know there will be some of you who’ve been waiting for my usual ‘gifts for teens’ post. I’ve decided to retire it this year because I only have one teen left in my house and he’s one of the least acquisitive people I know so I’m short on inspiration. I give my boys a Halloween deadline for wish lists, it’s early I know but this is the busiest time of year for me work and blog wise so they’re used to me needing to be organised. This year though I haven’t had a single request through from them and I think that reflects the way their generation’s mindset is going.

They no longer seem to buy new clothes, instead priding themselves on their unique charity shop finds. And they prioritise experiences over materialism, far preferring something like a Wetherspoon’s voucher or a barbershop pampering session over a brand new hoodie. Next year I’ll try to collate ideas on that front but for now you may find something in this post and if not, I’ve listed the previous years’ ‘Gifts for Teens’ posts at the end. They were all lovingly updated by the youngest over the summer so they should include good ideas – and if not, there are always Crocs. They show no signs of going anywhere! So let’s get going with ‘gifts for the hard to buy for’ – it’s a random selection but I hope you enjoy it.

For somebody who needs to spend less time online

Now I know a jigsaw puzzle isn’t a groundbreaking beginning but if you haven’t done one for years you’ll have forgotten how soothing and absorbing it is. It’s the perfect way to stop yourself spending time on your phone or laptop in the evening and it gives you the state of ‘flow’ that psychologists are always telling us we need to bring into every day.

These puzzles are made by a Midlifechic reader, Philippa. You may remember her from last year when she asked for help as she was just starting out. This year she got in touch to say how supportive you’d all been and what an enormous difference it had made to her, giving her confidence to keep going, especially as she’s looking the empty nest in the eye and building a new future for herself.  She has some new designs so if you feel a puzzle would be a good gift for someone you know – or just for you to have on a table over Christmas – do go over and have a look. It’s great when we can support tiny businesses and one of our own.

Snowy Village puzzle (other designs available)

And if you’re buying it as a gift why not package it with one of these puzzle tidies because the only annoying thing about a puzzle is that it can take up valuable space on your dining table until it’s finished. This enables you simply to lift it up while it’s in progress and pop it somewhere else until you’re ready to get on with it again.

Puzzle Tidy Jigsaw storage

For somebody who likes to travel light

As I’ve been putting these gifts posts together this year I’ve realised just how particular I’ve become about certain things. One of those is the contents of my handbag because if possible, I now prefer to go out without one and if I have to carry a bag, I want it to be light.

My usual checklist before I step out of the door is my five things – purse, glasses, phone, keys, lipstick. Now that we can pay by phone almost everywhere I can often forget about a purse and as you’ll know if you’ve stayed there, when we’re in Newcastle we have App entry to the flat so I don’t even need keys.

I do need glasses though and soft but protective leather cases are something that I now collect. These are perfect, they’re not bulky so you can even just slip them in your pocket if you’re popping out for a dog walk. And they’re currently in the Black Friday sale in a range of colours and different, high quality leather finishes. You won’t be surprised to hear that orange is my particular favourite.

Glasses case

For somebody settling in a new home

Personalised stationery is a lovely thing but it’s expensive. I have a big box of personalised notecards that I used to use all the time to send messages to the boys’ school about things but they’re gathering dust these days. However, this strikes me as a lovely thing to have, especially for somebody who’s enjoying the first flush of being in a new home; somehow it underpins that sense of belonging somewhere.

Classic address stamp

For a book lover or collector

I have this little mouse and he’s one of my favourite things. I bought him because I have one particular shelf of books that I call my ‘care home row’. It’s the edit of the books that are most important to me, the ones I’ll keep with me forever, even when it’s time to downsize. If I find one that I want to add, another has to go which is both a painful and pleasurable challenge (and now I’m wondering if I’m starting to sound a bit weird – but at least it helps explain why I spend so little time on social media). Anyway my mouse usually shines a light on my row but sometimes he looks lovely on a coffee table spotlighting a favourite vase too. He’s a thing of beauty in my eyes and he currently has a Black Friday 20% off.

Sitting mouse table lamp

For somebody counting the days until they can log off for Christmas

I know quite a few people who are just tunnelling their way through to the Christmas break this year. Yet again, 2022 hasn’t been the brightest and I think lots of us are just looking forward to switching off for a week or two and being cocooned with the ones we love. This tiny tree is a lovely way of cheering somebody’s desk and it’s a nice thing to send to a student too – or just somebody who can’t have a big tree. It comes with the lights, decorations and reindeer sack, plus it fits through a letterbox – so clever.

Letterbox Christmas Tree

For somebody who likes to broaden their knowledge

While we’re on the subject of trees… because my mum specialised in botany when she was at university, I knew the names of lots of trees and wild flowers when I was little. Over the years though I’ve forgotten them and it annoys me now when I look at a leaf and can’t identify it. These flashcards are a quiet way of challenging your brain and picking up a bit of knowledge too

Know your trees flashcards

For somebody who loves music and podcasts

This is great for anybody who spends a lot of time with Airpods in their ears. Whether you’re running, walking, travelling or commuting, this kit helps to keep everything clean and hygienic. After all there’s nothing more annoying than muffled sound, usually caused by a build-up of wax in your earbud – yuck.

Airpod cleaning kit

For pencil aficionados

One of the things I wrote about last year was my love of pencils and I was stunned by how many people got in touch to say they felt the same way. One of them was my friend Claudia (Bradby) who gave me the loveliest Christmas present of a box of Blackwings. I hadn’t heard of them before but they’re the Rolls Royce of the pencil geek world – yes there is such a thing – we’re not alone!

Blackwings are so distinctive and such a pleasure to write with – and I’ve found them opening up interesting conversations on the train when people see me using one. They’re made from renewable Incense Cedar wood and the graphite core is made from the highest quality which means that they hardly ever break. Apparently they were John Steinbeck’s favourite pencil too. Of course as with any cult product they’re more expensive than your average HB so it’s worth starting with an ‘audition pack’ to see which one’s right for you. If you know a pencil lover they may not thank you because they won’t look back! Various Blackwing sets here.

Blackwing pencil starter set; More stock here

For people who like to show off their socks

I know, socks… for Christmas… BUT. For every pair of these well made and often very funny socks that you buy, a thick, antibacterial pair is donated to a homeless person. There are socks for most of the UK’s city skylines – of course I’ve picked out Newcastle but you’ll find all of the others here. A nice gift for a university student I think, or somebody who misses their hometown…

One for you, one for a homeless person socks

… and they’ve collaborated with some brilliant celebrities. There are animal socks, hobby socks – all kinds of things as well as plain socks. If you buy a bundle there’s a discount too – a lovely company selling quality products and doing good at the same time.

One for you, one for the homeless socks

For the savoury cocktail lover

There comes a time at Christmas where you’ve had enough wine/fizz/gin/Baileys and you want something different to drink. This is it. I know Bloody Marys are a bit Marmite but if, like me, you absolutely love them then this is a fantastic gift. And they sell the fabulous plump, juicy Gordal olives that are so hard to find in the UK too. I found them yesterday and ordered a box straightaway so I haven’t been able to try them yet but they look like a nice little company to support and the reviews are really good.

Bloody Drinks – Pre-mixed Bloody Mary Giftbox

For a new baby or an 18 year old

Bear with me, I know wine isn’t the most obvious gift for a new baby however for their christening presents, my brother gave each of my boys a bottle of fine wine for laying down. The idea was that they could drink it on their 18th birthday (ideally with him!) and we’ve kept them rather anxiously in the cellar ever since. It would have been so much easier if they’d come with a personalised box too – hence this idea. As it happens they still haven’t drunk them because they’ve decided to keep them until their palettes will appreciate them so the stress of not mistakenly pulling one out to drink with friends goes on for us! Anyway it’s a lovely gift for a special Christmas and you can find suggested wines for laying down here.

Personalised wine box

Unusual Christmas Bouquets

Every year I remind you to order amaryllis for Christmas because they’re such a stunning winter flower. However I’m changing things up because last year when Mal went out to get them they were all sold out and he came home with a bunch of eucalyptus branches from the florist instead. They filled the house with fragrance all the way through Christmas and then I let them dry so they lasted until February before they started looking shabby. They’d be an unusual gift to send to somebody, lasting well into the new year, I’ve already ordered mine for delivery on 23rd along with these…

Eucalyptus bouquet

… aren’t they lovely and just so much nicer than a bunch of the usual hothouse arrangements.

Ilex berry bouquet

For theatre lovers

Theatre vouchers that last for a year and cover a number of small provincial theatres too as well as the big ones. I’ve given these to people before and they’ve really enjoyed planning a weekend away around them so it’s a great prompt for a special time.

Voucher for theatre tickets to use nationally

For lovers of live events

These vouchers cover theatre too (either West End or bigger shows that tour to bigger regional theatres) but also concerts, festivals, sports matches and all kinds of other live events. There’s such a lot of choice and it’s lovely to know that you’re giving somebody something that they’ll enjoy choosing and that they’re going to really remember.

Voucher for live events

For Art Lovers

The Art Pass is from Art Fund which is the national fundraising charity for art – and if ever the art world needed to raise money it’s now sadly. They support museums and galleries right across the UK and the National Art Pass gives you free entry at over 250 places, 50% off major exhibitions and special offers in the shops and cafes. You’ll also receive the Art Quarterly magazine four times a year. And, if you buy a pass for somebody before 21st November you’ll be sent this free tote designed by Morag Myerscough (use code MORAG at checkout). It’s up to you whether you pass it on with the gift or do a ‘one for you, one for me’!

National Art Pass

For Harry Potter Lovers

This would have been a brilliant thing to do when the boys were little and it would still be fun now. A guided walk around the London locations used in the Harry Potter movies – a good value day out and a different way of spending time in the city.

Harry Potter Walking Tour

Giving Back

There are lots of Christmas appeals going on – more than ever which of course triggers a deeper conversation about the need for charity and the state of the nation. However, it struck me that there are 48,000 people reading this and wouldn’t it be an achievement for the midlife movement if each one of us gave what we could to one of these appeals? I don’t have relationships with any of them directly so we’ll never know what we managed to do but I do like the thought that this little prompt might unite us all to make a small difference to a large number of people this Christmas. Here are the appeals I’ve picked out:

For people who are struggling to buy food

I speak regularly to people who run our local food bank and for the last few years they’ve been needing to find more and more support. This year though, demand is more than they ever imagined in any of their worst case scenario planning. They need support and they need it before mid-December so that they can put it into action before Christmas hits. Donations of food are always good but it can be more efficient for them if people make a financial donation so that they can buy what they really need with bulk savings.

I’m sure you’ll know your local food bank but here’s the centralised donation centre for The Trussell Trust who will share funds across the country.

Food Bank Emergency Christmas Appeal

For women and children escaping from domestic abuse

Those of you who know my story will know that this one is close to my heart. Christmas can be the worst time for any woman who is living with domestic abuse. It’s a maelstrom of emotions and the comparison between the Christmas that you see on TV ads versus the Christmas that you’re living through at home can feel even more brutal. In addition to that, any abuse that’s caused by alcohol gets much much worse. It means that the run up to Christmas can be a time when women decide they can’t take any more and so leave with only their child and whatever else they can carry in their arms.

Fortunately I didn’t need to go to a refuge but I left my situation on 23rd December 1998 and even though it felt devastating at the time, I can see now that it was an ending that heralded a whole new beginning. This appeal allows you to choose specific gifts for women and children who are facing an otherwise bleak Christmas which feels very personal. They start at just £3 but for somebody who’s left everything behind and is probably already doubting the brave move she’s made, even the tiniest bit of the support from a stranger will mean the world.

Refuge Christmas Gift Appeal

For children in difficulty of all ages

Action For Children is focused purely on the under 18s and helps them in all kinds of different ways. They may be hungry, homeless, bereaved or struggling with their mental health. The charity also supports the fostering and adoption process. They are asking people to be Secret Santas this year and there are a number of different gifts or support packages that you can pay for. It’s hard to imagine that some children might wake up to nothing on Christmas Day isn’t it? But they do.

Action For Children Secret Santa Appeal

For anyone who wants to pass on the magic of books

We all know how important storybooks are, especially to children who can use them to process and understand ideas that are bigger than the ones they encounter every day. The Book Trust have selected six hardbacks that they will be distributing as surprise gifts to children who have very little; half will go to children in care and the other half will go out via local food banks. They now need donations to help to pay for the books – this is one to choose for anyone who found comfort and hope in books when they were little.

Buy A Book For A Vulnerable Child Appeal

For animal lovers

I was stunned to read an appeal from the rescue centre that we’ve adopted all of our pets from. It was explaining what a difficult year they’ve had. It began with people relinquishing the animals they so enthusiastically took on over lockdown and now it’s ending with the sadness of people who just can’t afford to keep their much loved friends any more. The shelters are overflowing with animals who need a home so if you’re thinking about a new pet, please don’t buy one to order – rescue one that doesn’t have a family.

And if that’s not an option, most rescue centres now have Amazon wish lists for the food, toys and bedding they so desperately need and you can probably find them directly through your local shelter’s Facebook page. If not, the RSPCA page below will help you to find the one closest to you – it’s a terrible website but you’ll get there after about ten clicks!

Christmas Pet Rescue Appeal

And that, my friends, is me over and out on the Christmas gift front – now I really must do some Christmas shopping of my own! Have a lovely weekend, this is our last quiet one of 2022 so we’re going to make the most of it. I think the only thing we’re doing is going to see Emily at the cinema. Finally.

Next week is the start of another busy period for me so I’ll be back down to one post a week. On Friday I’ll pull together my usual compendium of the Black Friday offers. From the preview information I’m getting through it looks like they’re going to start early and then get bigger as the week goes on – so you may want to hold fire until the end of the week unless there’s an offer on something limited that you really don’t want to miss.

I’m going to end by wishing all of our friends in the US a very Happy Thanksgiving for Thursday – may your day be filled with joy and laughter. Happy Friday everyone.

Disclosure: ‘Gifts for the hard to buy for’ is not a sponsored post

Gifts for teens posts

Gifts for teens 2021

Gifts for teens 2020

Gifts for teens 2019

Gifts for teens 2018

Gifts for teens 2017

Gifts for teens 2016

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