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9 Good Gifts For Someone You Don't Really Know

Find the perfect food gift that says, “Etiquette dictates I should give you something.”

Gift giving around the holidays is a tricky business. Do you have to find a gift for everyone you know or do you keep the list small and intimate? What if someone feels left out? And what are you going to get your cousin who you only see on holidays?

For anyone you don't know very well, food-based gifts are a great option. Even better, many such gifts are very affordable; it might sound a bit Scrooge-like, but I'm not dropping hundreds of dollars on people I see once or twice a year, or who I'm meeting for the very first time. We've compiled a list of 10 cute, practical, and, most importantly, impersonal gifts to help you out this holiday season. These gifts say, "I might not know much about you, but I certainly didn't forget about you."

A reusable water bottle

Give the gift of hydration this year. A convenient and stylish water bottle is a useful and utterly neutral gift to give someone you don't know very well. The one in the photo above, from Etsy, has a convenient purse-friendly design, a consideration that the recipient can surely appreciate. Better yet, you can find some cute seasonal options on sites like Etsy and S'well. Find the one that fits your budget best, steering clear of the luxury options that will leave you penniless, and the recipient will think of you every time they take a sip.


A cookbook

From seasonal to celebrity, cookbooks are so limitless that you're guaranteed to find one to interest anybody, even if they never plan to actually cook from it. It's a way to give someone something beautiful and (in theory) useful, or to show that you know which movies and TV shows they like. The best cookbooks draw you in with inviting images of delicious food, such as Mi Cocina, released earlier this year.


Unique drink koozie

People don't think they need a drink koozie until they're given a promotional one in some sort of corporate gift bag, but as soon as they use one, they realize how nice it is not to freeze their hand off while their beverage steadily grows too warm. The fun thing about drink sleeves are that they can be as unique or as basic as you like. Just take a look at these adorable little parka coozies from Uncommon Goods. Etsy has tons of options for personalized can coolers. If you're an overachiever, though, you can buy a basic set and decorate them yourself.


Reusable grocery bags

The city of Chicago charges shoppers for plastic bags. But even if your gift recipient lives in an area where they're free to take as many bags as they like, there's nothing wrong with consuming less single-use plastic. These fruit-themed bags come in a lightweight pouch and appeal to just about anyone, and the fact that they're a fun accessory means the user is less likely to forget them at home. Cute, compact, durable, useful. That's a solid gift.


Snack box

Much like the overall act of gift giving, choosing food for an acquaintance can be tricky. What if they have dietary restrictions you're unaware of? What if they're just really, really picky? Rather than put all your eggs in one basket by gifting them a box of chocolates, try gifting a snack box. Cravebox offers a number of boxes (and stockings) for the holidays, and you can arrange to ship it directly to the recipient if you choose. This is a great option for families with young children, since it comes with a few toys and activities as well.


Food Dice

Listen: Party host, distant cousin, whoever—everyone struggles to decide what to eat for dinner sometimes. Why not leave these decisions up to fate and the food gods? A set of funny dice is small trinket with enough thought behind it to make the quasi-stranger in your life feel seen.


Food socks

We all have feet and we all need socks. One the best compliments you can get from a stranger is, "Hey, cool socks," so this gift ensures that someone will be made to feel stylish and fun by a passerby. You have to love the simplicity of a one-size-fits-most option, especially when you're handing a present to a glorified stranger.


Reusable straws

A reusable straw is not only an environmentally conscious gift but also a great idea in a time when we are all much more aware of the spread of germs. Whether you prefer not to consume single-use plastics or you just want to know which drink is yours at a party, a reusable straw is a handy item to keep on your person. Many sets come with a pipe cleaner so it's easy to keep the inside clean. You can go with some stainless steel options or these silicone straws from Food52, which come with a carrying case and are dishwasher safe.


Gift cards

Call it impersonal, but that's the name of the game here. You do not know this person well enough to wine and dine them. A gift card to somewhere as universal as Starbucks is likely your safest bet. Even if they don't drink coffee, there are plenty of other treats on the menu; worst case scenario, they pass the card along to someone else. Not your problem! Just be sure to note the dollar amount on the card somewhere. Going to the cashier and finding out you only have $5 to spend on a $10 purchase is not going to put anyone in the holiday spirit.