Paperweights, shrink-wrapped shower products, mall-brand candles—all those generic, extra gift-y gifts—aren’t necessarily bad presents. People can usually find some use for that sort of stuff. Really, the only problem with giving a standard-issue something is that it seems hurried and impersonal, as if you didn’t put any thought into it. Think about it: who unwraps a mini zen garden kit and says, "Wow, they so get me"?
Gift clichés are tricky, there’s no way around it—which is why I’ve included less-expected alternatives for nine generic presents in the slideshow above. Although my picks are all crowd pleasers, you’ll find that each one is more special than your average holiday-themed toiletry or office supply, so no one on your list will feel slighted. Click through to kick up your gifting game.