There's a lot of love expressed around the holidays, with presents being handed out, gatherings with the family (hopefully) at their best, and some much-needed time off work. But you know what there's also a lot of? Awkwardness, particularly when it comes to choosing what to buy for people who you don't know all that well.
You know the list — your kids' teachers, the neighbour who's always so forthcoming with the suggestions on gardening, your security guard. They're all people for whom you want to get a little something, but you really can't be sure of their interests.
While you'll get a range of advice as to what to spend (and that's anywhere from $10 to $100), this year, we're suggesting you pull together gift baskets to ease the burden.
Why gift baskets, when it kind of seems like a pain? They allow you to buy in bulk for multiple gifts, can seem personal without exerting too much effort, and you can put as much or as little in them as you like. And most importantly, the baskets themselves lend themselves quite nicely to dollar store purchases, and give you instant wrapping.
SEE: The gifts to give the people in your life you don't know all that well. Feel free to combine, add and subtract items at will!
For Your Kids' Teachers
A combination of caffeine, a cute place to store keys and the recognition that classrooms are germ-infested places will make any teacher love you — and your kids. Whale keychain by Jonathan Adler, $18.95, Papyrus; Anti-Bacterial 5-Pack PocketBac Sanitizers, $7.50, Bath & Body Works; Starbucks gift card, any amount;
For The Newlyweds
You may not know them that well, but you know what every new couple needs: A way to cook together, a way to build their house and yes, some jewelry cleaner to keep their new rings shiny. The Newlywed Cookbook (in print or e-book form), $15 - $25, Indigo; Connoisseurs Silver Jewellery Cleaner, $5.99, Sears; Ikea gift card, any amount.
For Your Boss
It's tough to imagine what your boss's life is like outside the office — so why try? Keep your gifts confined to things that will make life better during their workday, and be happy with the effort. 2013 Daily Planner Box Set, $39.95, Moleskine; Le Creuset Mug, $15, various locations; Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse, $59.99, Best Buy.
For Your Hairstylist/Aesthetician
A little something sweet, a little something caring, and a little something to help your hairstylist carry around all those barrettes and brushes in the studio. What more could they want? Artisanal chocolates, various prices, Soma Chocolate; Lovemade x Mata Hari Waist Bag, $52.95, Zakka Shop; Lovely Hands Set, $30, Crabtree & Evelyn.
For The Family
Become friends with a new family and not really sure what they're into? You can't go wrong with movies, board games and yes, a picnic basket to put it all in. Netflix membership, variety of pricing options; Metro Picnic Basket, $29.99, Bed Bath & Beyond; Apples To Apples, $24.97, Toys R Us.
For The New Parents
Scatterbrained and probably more than a little overwhelmed, new parents could use all the clean pieces of clothing and extra cash they can get — or, when appropriate, an electronic memo pad to help keep track of it all. One-piece outfit, from $9.50, Carter's; PC gift card, from $10 to $100, Loblaws; Play Video Memo Pad, $29.99 (online), Indigo.
For Your Mail Carrier
Much like your boss, you probably aren't too sure about your mail carrier's life outside the job — but you can try to help him or her get through the day with some comfort, including an awesome travel mug, a sleep aid and hand warmers. Vacuum Insulated Travel Mug, $30, Mountain Equipment Co-op; 40 Blinks Ultralight Sleep Mask, $12.95, Bucky; 10-pack Grabber Hand Warmers, $11.99, Canadian Tire.
For Your Neighbours
Keeping things confined to home stuff is a good bet when it comes to the neighbours — after all, that is generally the common interest. Edible Flower Garden, $15, Potting Shed Creations; Waiter's Corkscrew (the best kind!), $14.99, OXO; Tea For The Tree ornaments, $12.50, David's Tea.
For Your Babysitter
They take care of your kids, so you know they'll appreciate some stuff that takes care of them (without being too parent-like). Universal Tablet Sleeve, $30.99, Future Shop; Votivo Aromatic Candle In Glass, $35, The Bay; iTunes gift card, any denomination, Apple.
For Your Concierge/Security Guard
The person who watches out for your security and safety has some long nights at that desk — so while we are suggesting a couple of things to keep him or her occupied during the downtime, we also kicked in some boozy relaxers for after the shift. 6 Belgian Exclusive Ales, $18.95, LCBO (or equivalent liquor store); Magazine subscription, different pricing, Canada Post; G-Cube Metallic iBuds Talk Earphones, $20, Walmart.