Buying presents for your nearest and dearest is hard enough, but what do you get for someone you just don’t know all that well? Whether you’re looking for a safe option for a distant relative or the anonymous gift exchange at the office Christmas party, leave behind the predictable novelty mugs, body wash, notebooks and picture frames for gifts people will actually want.

We’ve broken it down into five categories to make it easier to shop for your gift recipient – from homewares, fashion and beauty to fun activities and food and drink. Happy shopping.

Homewares

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Mirrors always make cute, functional decor – especially in fun and unusual shapes. The Curvy mirror ($35) from homewares brand Offcut fits the bill. Or you can opt for linen with a waffle hand towel ($40) from Bed Threads – they’re made with 100 per cent flax linen and come in 11 colours.

If you’ve heard through the grapevine that they enjoy hosting dinner parties, they’ll like some of the plates from Aussie lifestyle brand In the Roundhouse – the Faces collection features whimsical, festive illustrations perfect for summer entertaining, and are only $29 a pop. The Lorne salad servers from Country Road ($24.95) also make cute picnic cutlery.

Fans of groovy sculptural candles will like the pleated lamp candle, a collaboration between Bed Threads and Love Ally – a cute option for just $30. Or, if they’ve already got heaps, Circa’s wick trimmer ($20) can elevate their candle-lighting ritual.

For added cosiness around the home (or their desk at the office), Deciem’s Shop room fragrance ($28) is a fine mist with a clean, woody scent thanks to cypress oil, guaiac wood, sequoia, cedar and a hint of patchouli.

Food and drink


Start their morning right, with a cuppa. Lay Day’s instant specialty coffee tastes nothing like the stuff from the supermarket – it’s more akin to what you’d get at a cafe (yes, really!). The small tin makes 16 cups and only costs $14.50 – you can buy both light roast and dark, or get the bigger size for $27.50. If they prefer tea instead, give them 20 to choose from with T2’s Random Acts of Tea set ($25).

And to keep spoiling them for choice, Koko Black’s Christmas gift box ($26.90) includes nine festive pralines in a pretty box, and Moon Dog’s summer cooler not only includes a practical cooler bag they can take wherever, but also comes filled with six of the brewery’s tinnies – a steal at $35.

Forget buying the chilli oil lovers a jar of ready-made stuff; Naked Asian Grocer sells a chilli oil kit with spices, Sichuan peppercorns, chilli flakes, fried shallots and dried scallops so they can experience making it themselves for just $8.

And, while not an edible gift, Mr Simple’s brass bottle opener key ($19.95) will get a good workout from beer lovers, who’ll be glad they won’t have to use their car keys to crack open a crown cap.

Skincare


‘Tis the season of long sunny days, beach trips and bush walks, meaning slopping sunscreen on is more important than ever. Ultra Violette’s Extreme Screen is a lightweight SPF for hands and body, with up to four hours of protection, even in the water. It comes in a 150-millilitre bottle for just $35.

For hydration and nourishment, Lanolips’ signature ointment comes in a fun holiday bauble ($18.95) that makes a cute stocking stuffer, or you can opt for Aesop’s popular, citrusy Resurrection Aromatique hand balm for $33.

And bearded ones will enjoy Grown Alchemist’s shaving gel ($38), which lifts the hair follicle for a close shave and protects skin from razor burn. Bonus: it smells great, with notes of sandalwood and sage.

Accessories


Speaking of cosy, two Aussies claim to have made the comfiest socks in the world (and several Broadsheet editors swear by them). Paire’s socks are made with a blend of Australian merino wool and combed cotton for comfort, with added moisture-wicking and odour-absorbing abilities. The quarter socks in collaboration with Merry People make cute stocking stuffers for $22.95 a pair.

Moving to the top of the body, keep your gift recipient sun-safe in the summer heat with a fun bucket hat from Naked Sundays ($29.95) – it constantly sells out, so better grab one while it’s in stock. They can also keep all their belongings safe at work, at the beach or on the go with Oroton’s canvas drawstring tote ($19.95), which closes securely to prevent spillage.

Games and activities


If they prefer experiences to material gifts, consider a fun activity they can do alone or with friends. Sydney artist Kim Siew has designed a memory card game called At the Gallery ($24.99) with illustrations of some of the world’s most famous artists and their works, including Frida Kahlo, Hokusai, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Henri Matisse. Match the art with its maker to play.

Morbidly fun card game Kill Your Friends is something they can play with friends and keep using – with any luck, maybe they’ll ask you to join the fun as well. And if they’re on the hunt for things to do with their kids, Lunch Lady Magazine is a colourful and thoughtful look at parenting, with recipes, essays, art and more. The December issue is out now and costs $23.50.

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