Why Are Some People So Hard To Buy For?

With Christmas now in the rear view mirror, there is no better time to start preparing for next Christmas. That sounds like a joke, and maybe it is to some extent, but anyone who found themselves shopping and changing plans with days to go in 2020 will know the truth: what seems like enough time rarely actually is. So if you want this year’s festivities to go better, there’s something to be said for at least laying money aside and sourcing some of the things you’ll need in December.

One thing that makes sense is securing a number of the presents you plan to give, because the closer it gets to Christmas – or any special occasion such as Valentine’s Day or Easter – the less choice you’re going to have. Shelves empty, shops fill up, and time pressure makes bad decisions more likely. An additional reason to give yourself time is that some people are really hard to buy for. Below, we’ll look into why this is the case, and what you can do to make sure that even for the trickier recipients, you end up giving a great gift.


In this case, we mean your parents. Even if you are a parent yourself, buying for the ones who raised you is often an absolute nightmare. Ask them what they want and they’ll tell you they don’t need anything, they just want to have some time together – but you can’t not get anything for them. The best gift to get your Mom and Dad is something they can display – a tasteful ornament for their home, which makes a room feel fuller and means you have a presence there even when you can’t be together. A framed print of a special occasion also works in this regard.


Adolescents get a bad rap, unfairly, and usually from adults who have forgotten exactly what they were like between the ages of 13 and 19. They can seem sullen and cold, which is hardly surprising when you bear in mind that they’re making a transition from child to adult in which every single stage is terrifying. They may put up walls, but it’s a reasonable response to what can be a very confusing time. Good gifts for teen boys include clothes that they can wear around the home; the same applies for girls, who will also appreciate stylish modern makeup. Also, girl or boy, they’re likely to have online influencers they look up to – a little sleuthing (asking their siblings, essentially) can allow you to pick a gift that reflects that.

Secret Santa

It seems as though there isn’t a single workplace that doesn’t indulge in the annual Secret Santa tradition. It’s a festive poisoned chalice that often means you are left wondering what to buy for someone about whom you know little other than what they’re like at work. Gift vouchers are often actually welcome, but feel a little like cheating. There are a couple of preferable alternatives: One, you discreetly ask around colleagues and trade with someone to get a name you’re more confident buying for. Two, pick out a fun gift that doesn’t break the bank but denotes kind thoughts: a plush toy or a funny book can work well in this regard (and can be bought at any time of year).

Some people are always going to be hard to buy for, but remember that a Christmas gift is almost invariably received in the spirit in which it’s given. The effort that you go to is more important than the gift itself.

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