The VERY hard to buy for guide

really hard to buy for

I have very nearly finished my Christmas shopping. I think I’m on track to have everything wrapped before school is out (yay me!) But there are a few presents that are still eluding me. It’s the people that are always hard to buy for. I reckon there’s a few of them on everyone’s Christmas list. Those that have all they need, buy what they want immediately and/or don’t have many hobbies or interests.

Here’s my guide to buying for them…


Get the inside word from someone close to them as to what they want. I find the hard-to-buy for are also very particular, so you often need a little help to ensure a gift that they really want. Keep receipts.

Take notes

It may be a little late to do this for Christmas, but I try to watch and take notes during the year. Have you been to their place and noticed something broken or missing? Have they borrowed something from you? Have they mentioned a band, a restaurant or TV show that they like? Have they taken up a new hobby or sport? I might be slightly crazy, but I actually make a note of these things on my phone (surreptitiously of course).

Buy during the year

Again, this is good advice for next year, but whenever you see something that you think your hard-to-buy-for loved one might like, snap it up then and put it away for Christmas, birthdays etc.

Stalk their pins

If the person you are buying for is on Pinterest, their boards will give you a good idea of the things they are coveting. My hard-to-buy-for folks are all men and not into Pinterest. But maybe I can convince them to do it, just for the sake of the rest of us.

What does their 2017 look like?

Are they planning any trips? Any new projects for the home? Are they starting a new job or course? Trying to figure out what their new year looks like might give you an idea of what they need.


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Here are some gifts ideas for those you are scratching you head over …


This is often a good bet as you can beat them to buying the latest tech. Charging stations are a great idea to keep things tidy. Less expensive items like car chargers, extra USB leads, power banks, external hard drives, large USB sticks and headphones are always practical. The lovely folk over at Laser Co gifted me some bluetooth headphones to try and they are fabulous. They are perfect if someone has a new iPhone, without the jack. They are also great for walking around and listening to music. I used them while cleaning the house, before my 7 year old stole them and used them while watching YouTube on the iPad. The back of head design means they fit me just as well as him. They are extremely compact and fold away easier. You can purchase them from Laser Co for $29.95.

blue tooth headphones

Cooking School

My husband and I just enjoyed a cooking class with Spirit House and it was so much fun. It was actually my present to him last Christmas but we left it until the last minute to book. You can buy gift vouchers on their site.


A magazine subscription to something they love is always welcome. But subscriptions have come a long way. What about a wine subscription, a t-shirt subscription or any manner of box subscriptions? It’s a gift that keeps giving and if you need to watch costs, many allow you to sign up for less than a year.

Lessons in something creative

My gorgeous husband bought me silversmith lessons a few years back and I still look back on the hours spent in the little workshop with fondness. We often don’t get to learn new things as adults, so lessons are a fabulous gift for the person with everything. New skills are always welcome.

Experience Vouchers

Experience vouchers are a great present for the person with everything and a growing trend. Red Balloon offers lots of experiences. My Best Gift has recently launched with a focus on experiences just for kids. Because, let’s face it, kids often have absolutley everything the need and can be hard to buy for. They also have experiences for the tricky-to-buy-for teens.

Photo Books

These are great idea for grandparents in particular. There is often a stage of life where we really don’t want or need any more stuff. But a book of photos of family is always welcome. I like Mixbook. It’s also a cute idea for Insta or Snapchat obsessed teens – you can create a “Selfie Book” of them and their friends. Or if they’ll consider that slightly stalky why not get them a voucher for somewhere like Social Print Studio, and they can choose their own prints and options.

Tongue-in-Cheek Emergency Kits

These are a great practical present. For the person with a shoe obsession, put together leather protector, a shoe bag, shoe polish and brush. For someone about to head on holiday, a kit of sunscreen, a book, travel toothbrush and paste. For the party girl, a few things to get them through the season – you could use this as inspiration. It’s a thoughtful gift, that needn’t cost much.


Everyone needs a diary for the new year, so if you can get in first, it’s a ready-made gift. Fat Mum Slim did a round up of some great ones. I can’t wait for my Emma Kate one to arrive!

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Tell me about your hard-to-buy-for folk


Linking up with Kylie Purtell – Capturing Life and IBOT 

40 thoughts on “The VERY hard to buy for guide

  1. Renee Wilson says:

    Great advice, Robyna. I love the cooking school and experience ideas. Okay, so the hardest person to buy for is my Dad. He hates it when you buy him clothes, doesn’t have time to watch DVDs and is over books. I made up a food basket for him for his birthday recently full of gourmet jams, chutneys and sweet treats and he asked if I’m trying to kill him (jokingly). He has diabetes, but that never stops him from a sweet treat here and there. All of us leave dad’s present to the last. Serious nightmare. I’ll probably just buy him a Gold Lotto ticket.
    Renee Wilson recently posted…Win a Party with Play School – 50th Birthday Collection DVD packMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Dads are hard aren’t they? Mine is an artist, so that at least gives a window of shopping opportunity for supplies and books as inspiration.

  2. JF Gibson says:

    We only buy for kids in our family, but even they can be hard to buy for! Kids seem to have everything they want these days. I’m all for creative alternatives, that are outside the box, but it can be mentally draining trying to think of them!
    JF Gibson recently posted…November, you got meMy Profile

  3. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid says:

    You always have the BEST ideas! (Sorry for shouting but there are no italics!) I can’t wait for my Emma Kate diary to arrive either. Exciting times! My hubby is the worst person to buy for. He’s very discerning so you can’t buy clothes, doesn’t read, doesn’t play video games, isn’t really into gadgets, isn’t especially adventurous and as a result, he ends up with a pair of really cool PJs every year and some chocolate. Also I should add a disclaimer, that that list makes him sound really boring and he’s not at all. Unless it comes to present receiving!
    Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid recently posted…Taking Stock – NovemberMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      I will be definitely be stalking the mailman that second week of December for mine. My husband is really similar- he’s not a boring guy but he’s just no that into “things”. Making it hard to buy him “things”.

    • Robyna says:

      We had such a great time at the cooking school – although like most people we almost let it expire before doing something about it. That’s the down side of experience gifts I guess.

  4. Sarah @sarahdipity says:

    Without a doubt my hubby is the hardest to buy for! But, how funny that just yesterday he said that he really wants some Bluetooth headphones for when he’s working out to music at the lie!

  5. Rebecca says:

    I’ve almost completed my Christmas shopping except for the 2 hard-to-buy men in my life – dad and the father in law. I think my dad is hardest because his birthday is on Christmas Day so there’s always the extra pressure of finding something Birthday and Christmas-worthy – without breaking the bank! This year I will most likely resort to tech again. Thanks for the tips Robyna!

  6. Karin @ Calm to Conniption says:

    My Mum is so hard to buy for. Not in the sense that I can’t think of things for her, I can think of plenty but she gets an idea in her head of what she wants and if she doesn’t get it… the woman fails at lieing. Her face says it all! My biggest fail was a magazine subscription. My parents were renovating so I though a House and Garden magazine would be nice, ah no. BIG fail! This year I am going with a half for sure win, and the other half something nice that I THINK she will like.
    Karin @ Calm to Conniption recently posted…I’ve Had A Ball Class Gift with FREE PrintableMy Profile

  7. Deborah says:

    Oh headphones…. would love them. But not for my mum for me. My mum is the hardest to buy for. She’s 72 and doesn’t really value ‘things’ which is great. She is kinda contented with her life – which is also great. She’s not well off but really wants for nothing. I wish I could be more like that.

    I usually try to ‘do’ something for her. and know she appreciates the thought or gesture more than the thing. She knows I love her and how important she is to me and I figure I just need to remind her of that every so often.
    Deborah recently posted…When our priorities surprise usMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      My grandmother is like that too – content and happy without much and would much prefer to spend time with us then receive a gift. Perhaps that kind of grace comes with age.

  8. Bel says:

    I’ve started to take notes in my phone during the year if people mention “I wish I had this….”.
    As for hard people to buy for, that would have to be my Husband whose birthday is on Christmas Eve!!! So have the double present worry! Plus if he wants something badly enough he tends to just buy it on a whim for himself, not leaving me with much!
    Bel recently posted…Too many friends, really?My Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Mine is ridiculously hard too – although I managed something this year! My son has a christmas eve birthday so his partner will have the same issue when he’s all grown up.

  9. Kylie Purtell says:

    Without a doubt my youngest BIL is the hardest to buy for. I never knew what to get him. Thankfully that problem was solved once we started doing Kris Kringle a few years ago rather than buying a present for everyone. Now, we all write down three things that we want that don’t exceed $100, then we put them all in a hat and everyone draws one out. When I got him last year it was so much easier having a list of things he wanted rather than trying to figure it out ourselves.
    Kylie Purtell recently posted…Thirty-Six to Thirty-Seven {52 week project} | PhotographyMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      We do something similar with my husband’s family. Only the lists tend to come in quite late, which is not helping my November deadline 🙂

  10. Toni @ Finding Myself Young says:

    Oh my god my partner is the worst person to buy for. He hates sports, alcohol, dvds/cds, food presents, clothes – pretty much anything that is a typical male gift he screws his nose up at. The only thing he’s into is gaming, but only certain games, which he always buys for himself as soon as they’re released. I think this year he’s going to get a gift voucher or a scratchie because I’m having a hell of a time coming up with any other ideas 🙁
    {also visiting from #teamIBOT}
    Toni @ Finding Myself Young recently posted…The big revealMy Profile

  11. Stephanie says:

    I find my husband is the hardest person to buy for. i know I could buy him just anything and he’d be grateful but he seems to pick ‘the perfect’ gifts for me all year round, little surprises here and there that I feel whatever I buy him doesn’t say how much I appreciate him and are grateful to have him in our lives!

  12. Kirsty @ My Home Truths says:

    Some really good ideas here. I always struggle with anyone other than close family. I finally started my xmas shopping yesterday and hoping to “wrap it up” before the end of the month. I love the thought of having it all sorted and already wrapped and ready to before xmas eve. Maybe this year I’ll be able to relax and indulge in a drink or too on xmas eve instead of desperately waiting for the kids to go to sleep so I can wrap and sort everything out!

  13. Sarah says:

    Great ideas Robyna. My mum is the trickiest person to buy for. She is still working, has expensive taste, doesn’t want experiences and generally buys things for herself as she sees fit. Grrr. She’s told us books this year which is easily done!

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