The Well-Chosen Gift: 50+ Ways to Give the Perfect Present

These gift ideas let you match personalities with presents and help you put the head and heart back into giving. Let's get shopping!

By Lauren Gniazdowski | Emilie Harjes from Reader's Digest | December 2011 / January 2012
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    Sure, it's the thought that counts, but around the holidays who has time to think?

    These choices let you match personalities with products and help you put the head and heart back into giving.

    Well-Fed: Norman Love Confections
    Yes, these chocolates are too pretty to eat. No, that didn't stop us. (15-Piece Signature Chocolate Gift Box, $32, normanloveconfections.com)

    Well-Fed: Madécasse Chocolate

    Made in Madagascar by former Peace Corps volunteers, this chocolate comes in bars ($5.99), a sampler ($32), and a Chocolate Binge ($49). (madecasse.com)

    Well-Fed: Dancing Deer Gift Boxes

    The puckery Sweet Lemon Squares have just the right crackly crust. The Cappuccino Brownies have just the right chocolate-coffee balance. A gift box of either has just the right effect. ($22.99, dancingdeer.com)

    Well-Fed: Numi Organic Tea Portfolio

    For the mug-caressing, antioxidant-imbibing tea drinker who's heating up a kettle somewhere right now, six nicely boxed types to try. (30 bags, $27.99, shop.numitea.com)

    Well-Fed: The OCD Chef Cutting Board

    A 9-by-12-inch beechwood slab with a tongue-in-cheek guide for getting the carrots diced, julienned, or brunoised just so. ($24.99, thinkgeek.com)

    Well-Fed: Marmalade Lover's Gift Set

    Tart up their toast with a trio of bright, offbeat flavors. ($32, bluechairfruit.com)

    Well-Fed: Food of the Month

    A different hot sauce, peanut butter, or salsa each month—for three, six, or 12 months. ($56.85 to $215.40, amazingclubs.com)

    Well-Fed: Cards They’ll Keep

    Letterpress cards with corresponding recipes on the back. “You Are Super Hot” comes with a recipe for Fire-Roasted Salsa, for example. ($5.50 each, elumdesigns.com)

    Well-Fed: Sausage Sampler with Soul

    A selection of five authentic sausages that kicks back $1 to Vermont’s Make-a-Wish. ($69.95, fortunasausage.com)

    Well-Drunk: Penfolds Red Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet

    A delicious red wine — and 15 percent of the profits go to the Global Fund. ($14, penfoldsred.com)

    Well-Drunk: Corzo Tequilas

    Champagne is so flat. (Been there, drunk that.) But each Corzo bottle is a thing of beauty — with Silver, Reposado, or Añejo inside. ($46.99 to $57.99, bevmo.com)

    Well-Carried: Mudpie Cable-Knit Clutch

    This popcorn-knit handbag has a zipper, satin lining, and virtuous "vegan leather" trim. ($35, mud-pie.com)

    Well-Carried: Thule Crossover 32L Backpack

    Holds a 17-inch laptop, with a hard case for eyeglasses and a Shove-it Pocket for that old-media newspaper. ($129.99, amazon.com)

    Well-Carried: SPIbelt

    An adjustable belt (SPI stands for “small personal item”) that can carry money, electronics, cards, and more. ($19.95 and up, spibelt.com)

    Well-Carried: Kate Spade Rainspot iPad Cover

    Padded protection with signature modern style. ($50, nordstrom.com)

    Well-Rested: Snore Stopper

    Deliver an effective blow to a loud sleeper. (You've got a meeting in the a.m.! ) ($19.95, potpourrigift.com)

    Well-Rested: Sound+Sleep Machine

    Pick a sound, any sound—fireplace, waterfall, ocean, city, or six others—and fall asleep to it. Sound + Sleep runs all night or turns off with a timer. ($99.99, soundofsleep.com)

    Well-Insulated: Predator vs. Prey Animal Mittens

    Each hand-crocheted pair pits one hand against the other: owl-mouse, wolf-sheep, cat-dog, and more. ($29.99, vsmittens.com)

    Well-Insulated: Mizuno Breath Thermo Half-Zip Top

    Wicks away the sweat, turns up the heat. ($74.99, mizunousa.com)

    Well-Groomed: Caswell-Massey Onyx Natural Bath Soap

    Unisex and incredibly long-lasting. ($50 for three, $20 each, caswellmassey.com)

    Well-Groomed: Soap Woods and Soap Rocks

    For removing makeup, shaving legs, and general moisturizing and cleansing. ($6.75 and $14.95, soaprocks.com)

    Well-Groomed: Archipelago Pomegranate Gift Set

    Hand cream, candle, soap, and washcloth in one box. ($35, archipelago-usa.com)

    Well-Scented: Nutcracker Soaps

    The perfect way to wash the Christmas cookie crumbs off your hands. (five for $22, giannarose.com)

    Well-Scented: Jo Malone Cologne Collection

    Never choose a fragrance for a woman. With this five-bottle sampler, she can do it herself. ($95, jomalone.com)

    Well-Tuned: The Essential Loretta Lynn

    With 60 songs on three CDs, You're Lookin' at Country is the very best from the coal miner's daughter. ($49.96, readersdigeststore.com)

    Well-Viewed: Laurel & Hardy

    Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection collects ten discs with 52 talking shorts and 11 features. Also included: a book and special features, like interviews with comedy legends Tim Conway, Dick Van Dyke, and Jerry Lewis. ($64.99, amazon.com)

    Well-Viewed: Doc Martin

    The first four seasons of the hit show featuring the British incarnation of America’s Dr. Gregory House. The socially inept physician is a brilliant diagnostician who develops an aversion to blood. The other big star: the seaside Cornwall village of Port Isaac, where the series is filmed. ($59.98, amazon.com)

    Well-Viewed: The Original Christmas Classics

    Your four favorite holiday TV specials -- “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Frosty Returns” – in one collection. (blu-ray, $25.49 amazon.com; DVD, $19.99 amazon.com)

    Well-Viewed: 6 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones

    From "Time Is on My Side" (1964) to "Honky Tonk Women" (1969): TV legend. ($29.99, amazon.com)

    Well-Viewed: Downtown Abbey

    The next season of another British series starts in January on PBS. Get them ready for upstairs vs. downstairs, old world vs. new world, rich vs. poor, scandal vs. propriety, with this DVD set of season one. (It’s World War I. Things will have to change.) ($14.96, walmart.com)

    Well-Played: C. F. Payne Puzzles

    The artist who did the back cover of Reader's Digest for more than four years goes jigsaw and cuts things up into 500 pieces. ($10.99 each, amazon.com)

    Well-Played: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Board Game

    It's Trivial Pursuit for the fans of head-banging and ballad-crooning, hard metal and soft rock. Answer correctly and you move out of your garage and toward stardom. ($32.89, amazon.com)

    Well-Played: Simon Flash

    Train brains of any age with a variation of the classic Simon game, a sort of modern Concentration with battery-operated flashing lights and four varieties of challenges. ($19.84, walmart.com)

    Well-Played: ColorKu

    It's Sudoku with colored marbles and a wooden surface — instead of numbers, a pencil and a very nubby eraser. ($29.69, amazon.com)

    Well-Played:Connor’s Kits for Kids

    Let them investigate plants, crystals, polymers (aka slime), and more with these instructional kits that seem like toys. ($17.95, kitsforkids.com)

    Well-Played: Creative Whack Pack

    You get 30 magnetic pyramid pieces in a ball (a rhombic triacontahedron, to be specific). Disassemble; reassemble; get creative. ($17.47, walmart.com)

    Well-Connected: Spiderpodium and Spiderpodium Tablet Flexible Stands

    Hang your iPod from the dashboard, mount a camera anywhere, stand your cell phone or iPad at attention. ($19.99 and $34.99, breffo.com)

    Well-Connected: Digital Photography: A Basic Manual

    Exposures, shutter speeds, composition, printing, storage — it's all here and all clear, thanks to Henry Horenstein. ($19.59, amazon.com)

    Well-Connected: S4I Klipsch Earbuds

    Rapturously reviewed headphones that won't let Wham! songs leak out to snickering bystanders. ($79, amazon.com)

    Well-Stuffed: Angry Birds Toys

    The addictive mobile-app stars: still angry yet ready to cuddle. ($12.99 and up, angrybirds.com)

    Well-Stuffed: Tree in a Box

    Pot, soil, seed, and how-to. Blue spruce, American elm, or red maple. ($6 each, treeinabox.com)

    Well-Stuffed: Horrified B-Movie Victims

    Set of nine figures recoiling from something unspeakable. Or maybe they work where you do. ($14.49, perpetualkid.com)

    Well-Stuffed: Makr's Bottle Key

    Pop open whatever you want wherever you want. ($11, makr.com)

    Well-Stuffed: Medieval Weapon Pushpins and Pinhead Pushpins

    Now they can post an important note with malicious flourish. ($9.99, thinkgeek.com; $6.95, funslurp.com)

    Well-Stuffed: Schott's Quintessential Miscellany

    The best in browsing. ($10.88, amazon.com)

    Well-Stuffed: Camo Golf Balls

    Frustrate any golfer for under $15! ($13.49, stupid.com)

    Well-Stuffed: Mixed Messages -- Do-It-Yourself Ransom-Note Mug

    So they can tell it like it is in the a.m. ($14.99, perpetualkid.com)

    Well-Stuffed: The Guitar Collection

    For the casual air-guitarist you really love or a true scholar of the instrument: a 20-pound oversize book of 150 of the most exceptional guitars in history, another volume of the stories behind them, plus a museum-quality print signed by photographer John Peden — all packaged in a custom leather case. ($1,050, amazon.com)

    Well-Read: A Little History of Philosophy

    All that high-flying thinky stuff — your Kant, your Kierkegaard — brought gently down to earth. ($15.99, amazon.com)

    Well-Read: The Art Museum

    The 2,500 works that really matter in 1,000 stunning pages. ($126, amazon.com)

    Well-Read: 100 Shoes

    A visual history of what exactly goes on down there. ($16.27, amazon.com)

    Well-Read: A Little History of the World

    The 2005 bestseller now has pictures to go with Gombrich's ideas. ($18.50, amazon.com)

    Well-Read: The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry

    Rita Dove attempts to put the best of it between two covers. ($25.86, amazon.com)

    Well-Read: Monumental Paris and The Louvre: All the Paintings

    Page your way through Paris and save thousands. ($94.50, amazon.com, and $47.25, amazon.com)

    Well-Read: Hallmark Recordable Storybooks

    Read and record a tale a child can listen to anytime. ($29.95, hallmark.com)

    Well-Read: Laughter Books

    Cats, Dogs, Men, Women, Ninnies & Clowns: The Lost Art of William Steig
    The wry renderings by the New Yorker artist. ($26.40, amazon.com)

    The MAD Fold-In Collection: 1964-2010
    Each famous inside back cover, creased and not. ($78.75, amazon.com)

    The 50 Funniest American Writers

    Andy Borowitz selects and samples his heroes of hilarity: Sedaris, Frazier, Sykes. ($15.19, amazon.com)


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    Your Comments

    • Jovy

      If they’re “well-fed” or “well-read”, why would you get them something they don’t need? And what the heck is “well-stuffed”? This is a pretty useless (and dull) list.

    • Mail Junk28

      God what a load of crap.  Mindless people step up for yours!

      • Anand

        thought the same.