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Buying Christmas gifts for friends and family is hard enough when you know them inside and out, but what about those people in your life you don’t know extremely well, like not-so-close neighbors and friends of friends? Maybe they’ve invited you to a dinner party or a birthday event and you want to bring something, but aren’t sure exactly what. Gifting for these types of people often seems like an impossible task, considering everyone’s taste is generally fairly different, but it doesn’t have to be.

Related Reading: The Best Gourmet Food and Drink Gifts for 2019 | The Best Host & Hostess Gifts to Bring for the Holidays

The key to a gift for someone you don’t know well is fairly straightforward: simplicity and utility. Extremely stylized presents make sense for that kooky friend who loves all things neon and retro, but for your kid’s teacher it’s probably not appropriate. You want to be sure to give something anyone could easily want or use. Try muted patterns that could fit any interior decor scheme or a novelty kitchen gadget one might not think to buy themselves.

If all else fails, that’s why gift receipts were invented, but we think these ideas will impress any acquaintance, distant friend, or office coworker whose name you drew for Secret Santa.

Lipper International 3-Piece Salad Set in Cherry, $41.99 at Target


Wooden salad bowls will never go out of style, but they’re particularly in right now. If you’ve looked at any wedding registry lately, a wooden salad bowl is always a requested item. The addition of the serving spoons make this gift that much more useful. Everybody makes salads. Everybody serves salads. Gift perfection achieved.Buy Now

Bialetti Moka 6-Cup Express Espresso Maker, $28.99 at Target


The only thing you know about your desk mate Charlie is how often he drinks cortados? No problemo. Most people consume coffee and most are constantly complaining about how much money they spend trying to make a good cup. Help Charlie with this 6-cup espresso maker. Even if he has one for home, now he can make his own espresso drips at work and save himself a pretty penny on his daily La Colombe.Buy Now

 “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook” by Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey, $9.20 on Amazon

Cranberry A “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook” by Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey


If you’ve heard an acquaintance mention baking with their family, New York’s famous Magnolia Bakery has a cookbook ready to be wrapped by you. Tourists travel far and wide for these cupcakes and Magnolia’s famous banana pudding. Even if your acquaintance has mentioned nothing about baking, who hasn’t needed a last minute cupcake recipe for their kid’s birthday or an employee bake sale? These recipes won’t let them or their tastebuds down.Buy Now

The Republic of Tea Get Wellness Stackable Tea Tins, Set of 3, $14.95 at Sur La Table

Sur La Table

Need a little pick me up gift for a sick neighbor? Republic of Tea’s wellness teas will bring them back to life in no time. The stackable tins come in three varieties: Get Immunity (a matcha to fight illnesses), Get Elderberry (a preventative fruity blend), and Get Wellness (a health-fortifying, caffeine-free tea.) With a two week supply, this is a perfect gift for a sick friend or honestly any human, because everybody gets sick.Buy Now

Food52 Community Recipe Napkins, 4 for $54 on Food52


Once again, these adorable table napkins fit into any kitchen scheme. The retro recipe card font adds a little kitsch, but they’re still classic and come in a quaint package resembling an inter-office memo envelope. Each napkin is printed with its own Food52 favorite community recipe: Game-Changing Pancake Mix, Magical Coffee, Pasta Piselli, and Louisa’s Cake. All standards anyone can make and enjoy.Buy Now

Bamboo Hors D’Oeuvres Plates, 4 for $25.99 at Macy’s


The worst part of a party is that awkward juggling routine we’re forced to do with our wine glass and hors d’oeuvres plate. These combination bamboo hor d’oeuvres plates and wine glass holders solve that problem. They’re definitely not something one would think to purchase for themselves, but are so darn useful. Be the guest with the best and get closer to your host by gifting the most MacGyver friendly item of 2019. Buy Now

Kiehl’s Hydration Essentials Gift Set, $30 at Macy’s


What makes this Kiehl’s moisturizer set way more giftable than many other toiletry sets is it that it is virtually scentless. Kiehl’s is a trusted favorite and not one person you know doesn’t use hand cream or lip balm, especially in winter. This kit’s travel size packaging is a great way for someone to try out a product without you having to worry about what kind of scents they like to wear.Buy Now

Cheese Vault, $34-$60 on


Okay, you hear the words cheese and vault and think this might seem like a weird gift to give, but hear us out. This vault is precisely the kind of kitchen tool most people won’t buy for themselves, but would definitely use. If you know the expiration date of every opened cheese in your fridge, you’re a dairy savant and we want you to organize our lives. For those of us who aren’t alphabetizing our cabinets, the cheese vault keeps your blocks of aged gouda fresh while actively reminding you of its expiration date. We suggest gifting it alongside a nice gruyere so they can try it out immediately.Buy Now

Cardamom Spice Soy Candle, $20 at Sur La Table

Sur Lat Table

Candle gifting for people you don’t know well yet is all about picking a neutral scent. Cardamom is a perfect choice for any home because of its mild and soothing properties. Nice for any time of year, the somewhat spicy and nutty smell cardamom offers is particularly great as a fall or winter gift, but it’s not as seasonal or polarizing as say a pumpkin spice or vanilla cupcake flavor. Plus, soy candles are inherently better than paraffin for your health, so you’re doing your friend a favor!Buy Now

Marble Salt Keeper, $19.96 at Sur La Table

Sur La Table

Gifting a salt keeper is a wonderful way to welcome someone to the neighborhood or a new home. Most recipes call for salt, but not all home chefs know how to properly store their coarse salts. Even if your acquaintance doesn’t cook often, the sleek and clean appearance of this Sur la Table accessory will add decorative value to their kitchen. For closer friends and fam, this would also be a great stocking stuffer.Buy Now

See our sister sites’ holiday gift guides for more:

For Everyone Else on Your List

Chowhound Christmas Gift Guide 2020: The Best Gourmet Food & Drink Gifts

Header image courtesy of Food52.

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