9 Great Gift Ideas for People Who Have Everything

When it comes to great gift ideas, I always struggle — especially for people who have everything.

My family draws names every year as part of our annual Christmas gift exchange. It’s typically done a year in advance, on Christmas Day, long after all the presents have been opened, and everybody has stuffed themselves on our traditional cavatelli dinner.

I remember one year when I had the misfortune of pulling Uncle Paul’s name out of Santa’s hat. That put me in a tough spot because he’s an octogenarian who has all the money he’ll ever need — so when the guy wants something, he buys it.

Anyway, as soon as I drew his name, I pulled my Aunt Mary Jane aside to get some gift advice, but she was no help. “Paul’s had everything he’s ever wanted since 1979,” she said. Great.

For a moment, I considered trying to make a homemade Christmas gift; but truth be told, I quit working with bird seed, paste and toilet paper rolls after I graduated from kindergarten.

Eventually, I came to realize that there are plenty of great gift ideas for people who have everything — you just have to be willing to think outside the box.

Here are nine of them:

1. Car Washes or Detailing

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: Who doesn’t love a nice shiny clean vehicle? Buy some gift certificates to a local car wash. If you’re looking to spend a little more, then consider a mobile auto detailer who will work at the recipient’s home or place of employment.

What’s It Gonna Cost? That depends. The cheapest hand-dry car washes are typically $15 a pop. Detailing can run from $100 to $250, depending on the size of the vehicle, interior style, and other service options.

2. Car Repairs

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: Most people don’t have the luxury of their own car mechanic. Auto dealerships and many other repair houses typically offer gift cards that can be used for anything from routine oil changes to major car repairs.

What’s It Gonna Cost? That depends. A gift certificate for $100 will certainly cover the cost of a couple of routine oil changes — or help defray the cost of large repair expenses.

3. Hot Air Balloon Rides

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: If you’re looking for a gift that offers a truly unforgettable experience, then this is it! I’ve taken two hot air balloon rides: a sunrise trip over Southern California wine country, and a sunset journey along   the San Diego coastline. Both trips were absolutely magnificent and included post-flight champagne and hors d’oeuvres. You can find local balloon ride companies with FAA-licensed pilots on the Internet.

What’s It Gonna Cost? In Southern California, one-hour balloon rides usually run in the neighborhood of $150 per person; weekend ride prices are about 15% higher. Private two-person rides typically start at $400 per person.

4. Art, Cooking, or Dance Lessons

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: If dear old Dad can’t make a piece of toast without burning it, try buying him a few cooking lessons. If he has two left feet, then dancing lessons would be a good bet too. Art lessons are another idea.

What’s It Gonna Cost? A four-hour in-house private cooking lesson for two from Chef Professor begins at $400. The tuition cost includes all food products needed for the class. Private dance lessons usually start around $50 per hour; group lessons are considerably cheaper. Private art lessons typically start at $30 per hour.

5. The Gift of Charity

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: Perhaps Aunt Edna is passionate about a particular cause. If so, consider giving them a TisBest Charity Gift Card; they currently have more than 300 charity partners!

What’s It Gonna Cost? Of course, that’s up to you.

6. Membership in a Gift of the Month Club

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: Wine clubs such as the original Wine of the Month Club are perfect for wine connoisseurs and newbies alike — not to mention a great way to build a wine collection. Then there is Amazing Clubs. They offer 32 different monthly clubs to choose from. This year, their most popular clubs are: beer, wine, variety, coffee, and hot sauce. Other clubs include cheese, neckties, tea, salsa, cigars, pasta, flowers, and even dog treats.

What’s It Gonna Cost? Again, it depends. Obviously the cheese club is going to run more than, say, the doggie treats. Depending on which club you choose, expect to pay between $20 and $40 per month. Memberships run for three, six, or 12 months.

7. Spa Services

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: Almost all day spas now offer specials and customized mix-and-match package deals; for example, a massage and facial. Some spa treatments often include lunch.

What’s It Gonna Cost? Generally speaking, prices at luxury resorts and hotels will cost more than other day spas. A one-hour Swedish massage in smaller markets will typically run you between $100 and $150. The same massage at a luxury resort can run upwards of $250.

8. Something Personal

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: Unlike me, a lot of folks have real talent. If you’re a skilled painter, use your skills to create a special painting. If you enjoy scrap-booking, assemble a memorable collage. For example, I know people who have even used these gifts in the past and they have worked well. Just remember: Whatever you create, the more you personalize it, the bigger the “wow” factor will be.

What’s It Gonna Cost? Obviously, material prices will vary — but the labor is free!

9. Groceries

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: Trust me; grandparents on tight budgets love gift certificates for groceries. Better yet, consider having their groceries delivered through services such as Amazon or WeGoShop.

What’s It Gonna Cost? That’s up to you. Of course, the home delivery option will be more expensive, but hey … aren’t Nana and Papa worth it?


10. Immortality (Well … kinda sorta.)

Why It’s A Great Gift Idea: Almost nobody has a heavenly body named after them! So dub a star after Uncle Joe by having his name included in a star registry. You can also immortalize him with his very own mathematical theorem. (No, that’s not a mistake.)

What’s It Gonna Cost? TheoryMine.com will name a mathematical theory after anyone for approximately $25 — even those who have trouble doing long division. Stars are a bit more expensive: you can get them recorded for as low as $50.

As for my Uncle Paul … he thoroughly enjoyed his pedicure.

Photo Credit: sociotard


(This is an updated version of an article originally published on December 17, 2009.)


  1. 3


    Pretty much everyone reading this already has more than they will ever need, so buying a traditional gift is pointless. For Uncle Paul, I suggest a song. Yes, compose a song in his honor (It does not have to be about him, specifically), and sing it for him on Christmas Day. If you sing like my wife, everybody will be thrilled (not just Uncle Paul). If you sing like me, well, they’ll all recognize that it’s the thought that counts.

  2. 5


    Good list, I don’t know about the Hot Air Balloon Rides, though. I’m a bit scared of heights, lol. I would recommend something like a canoe trip at a State/Nat’l park. A lot of them have rentals for around $15~ a day.

    • 6


      The first time I took a ride, and the balloon was first rising into the air, it had me a bit nervous. But before I knew it I was completely carefree and enjoying the beautiful views. It is so tranquil up there that I found it hard not to be relaxed. I think the idea of a canoe ride is a great idea too. Thanks the tip, Derek! :-)

  3. 7


    My 96yo grandfather is one of those guys who have everything. I noticed he was complaining about his rough skin and not getting a close shave and I bought him one of those little battery-powered skin buffers by Nivea (in pink!) and he LOVED it! I think he enjoyed the sensation and us fussing over him doing it at the Christmas table(!) but he uses it every day. Soon he’ll look like a 20yo…

    • 8


      That’s a great idea! I think your story also goes to show that if we all spent just a little more time listening carefully to our “hard-to-shop-for” loved ones, maybe finding a gift for them wouldn’t be quite as hard as we make it out to be. :-)

  4. 11

    Mary Ellen says

    I think it would be great if you could share other ideas you may have. Assuming you have a few more.

    • 12


      I do, but I was saving them for a follow-up post. I hope you can hold out a while. If you can’t, drop me an e-mail and I’ll dish a few more for you. :-)

  5. 13


    Those are some nice ideas for gifts that they will never forget. Most gifts I’ve ever received fall into the fog of memory, but one year my wife got me a 1-hour helicopter training ride for Christmas. Man oh man was that ever awesome.

  6. 15


    Some great ideas here. Ever since I was given a track day driving amazing supercars I have bought experiences for friends and family who are hard to buy for.

    • 16


      Another great idea, Glen! I had a neighbor who used to work at a race track and she used to tell me that they would let people use the track for a fee. How expensive is a gift like that?

  7. 17

    Caleb Green says

    My favorite gift to give during Christmas day is a fruit basket with toys and gift certificates. they can really put a smile on someone’s face.

  8. 18


    WineClubGuide.com is your guide to finding the best wine clubs online, whether you are looking to expand your wine collection or are sending your friend a wine club gift. We believe there is no better way to experience the world of wine than with a wisely chosen wine club.

  9. 19


    I’m glad you put this list together, because I know several people in my own life, too, that have pretty much whatever they could ever want.

    Car repairs were a surprising addition (didn’t know you could gift certificate those), and hot air balloon rides sound wonderful. I also like the idea of classes–most older folks are always looking for things to do, so that’s perfect.

    Finally, I think the gift of charity can be absolutely amazing and very personal when given to the right person. It can give someone an enormous sense of gratitude, even though you didn’t actually get THEM anything. :)

  10. 20


    I think books and music work well as gifts because new ones are coming out all of the time–he can’t possibly already have all the books and recordings he’d enjoy having. Ditto for movies.

  11. 23


    I am always looking for clutter free and well thought out gifts. Generic gift certificates seem like a cop-out to me. Thanks for this list!

    I’ll add a few of my favorites to your list. Being a consummate knitter and yarn snob one of my favorite gifts ever was a membership in a sock club. Every other month for a year I received an unique pattern and an exquisite skein of yarn from a designer I admired. Perfect! One year, at a loss for what to get my mother I took her shopping. Not only did we enjoy the time together and a nice lunch but she picked out a sweater pattern and bought the yarn with the intent for me to knit it for her. She got exactly what she wanted/needed and I got to put love in every stitch of something I *knew* would be appreciated. Magazine subscriptions are another winner. I just got a gift card with a 2 year subscription to a knit design magazine from the SO. And as a kid I remember the monthly deliveries of National Geographic and fighting with my siblings over who got to read it first. This year I had my mother in tears over a gift I made for her. I gave her a hand printed and designed coupon book for a monthly mother/daughter lunch sans grandkids and SOs.


  12. 27


    I have the same problem with my parents that you have with your Uncle Paul. They have everything they need.

    Gifts I’ve given them include prepaid hair appointments, gift cards to their favorite restaurants and onboard credit for their cruise vacation.

    Thanks for the additional ideas!

  13. 29


    What about the person who doesn’t WANT anything? Having that issue with my husband, who is perfectly content with his TV and his Netflix subscription. Doesn’t care about music, lessons, hot-air balloons. Still pondering this one!

    • 30


      You have to be careful here. There are some people out there who say they really DON’T want anything and actually MEAN it. If that is the case, then I would give them a Christmas card and a hug.

      HOWEVER… I find there are MANY MANY people who SAY they don’t want anything, but they really do. You have to do your due diligence here and make sure hubby isn’t playing coy with you. Tell him that playing coy is not such a good idea, because if he is he may get what he asked for! :-)

  14. 31


    I certainly appreciate the list since the year is already starting with birthdays that go all through the year. I never thought about groceries for the grandparents (or other elderly persons), but you are right, that’s an excellent choice and so timely and needed. I am going to put your list up and have it especially for my Christmas shopping.

  15. 34

    towelietowel says

    Great post! I myself think that finding the right gift can sometimes be difficult. What I think is that people tend to like unique gifts that are hard to find and not sold in stores. People like the gifts more this way since they cannot be replaced. I have been buying a few items from thinkfuntoys.com and giving it away to friends and family. They all love it. The stuff there are pretty cheap and unique and they deliver fast.

  16. 35

    Rusty says

    My kids used to ask me what I wanted for my birthday, Christmas, etc. I am one who is totally happy to get the card and a hug, and I don’t really need the card — and they know this. But my daughters love to give gifts. So I went on Amazon and created a Wish List. Now they just go check my wish list. My wife gave me two great gifts that fed my need for speed: 10 laps in a genuine NASCAR at 160 mph and an hour ride in a North American T-6 Texan (I was a passenger but got to control the stick for almost 45 minutes). These were a little pricey for us, but gifts I will never forget.

    • 36

      Len Penzo says

      I’m with you. I tell my family all I need is a hug and — maybe — a cake baked by my daughter for my birthday. I bet my dad would love the ride in a T-6.

  17. 37

    Siena says

    These are great ideas for those who we feel have everything. I love this list and will most likely borrow one or two ideas. If it helps anyone I gifted my dad a platinum cheese club and it was the perfect gift for him (igourmet.com). I also gave a luxury candle of the month club as a gift to my Mom and she loved it (raincollection.com/categories/candle_of_the_month_club. Both of these clubs are a little more expensive than what is listed in the post, but the products were exceptional. Great list of gift ideas, thanks for the post!

  18. 38

    Amanda says

    This is a great list! I found some great ideas that I am going to be using for this upcoming holiday season…no more last minute shopping for me. I also found some great ideas and info on blog.pickypresents.com. It is always good to have a bank of sites to get information on when Christmas shopping! Good luck to you all :)

  19. 39


    A great place for some unique gifts is AncientMagicToys.com They have 19th century animation devices that are fun and magical for anyone!

  20. 40


    This is an awesome list of gift ideas for people whom we thought to have “everything” that they need. We especially like point number 8, on something personal, in particular, scrap booking. Put in the photos of the happy times we have, and it sure would bring back fond memories, and some tears. A good way to strengthen the relationship.

  21. 42


    Experience gifts, like you mention here, are so good for people who have everything. Some of my favorite gifts to give: spa gift certificates, cooking classes, yoga classes, concert tickets and theater tickets. For kids, a pass to their nearest zoo or children’s museum.


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