by Daniel Wirtheim

1. A cast-iron pan

I’ll bet you didn’t think of that one. Everyone loves a good cast-iron pan, the kind that will last eons and accumulate flavor. But a good pan is going to cost you. So if you’re going to cheap out on a crappy one, just move down the list.

2. Soap

Soap can be connoted to all kinds of messages. Deliver soap infused with coffee beans and the person might believe they’re recognized as a very cultured person. Plain old soap can give off a message that the person is unclean. No matter what soap always makes a great present, unless you’re the one receiving it.

3. Some type of sports ball

It’s a way of saying, “Hey, let’s play.” And the right type of sports ball can really transcend all age groups. You think you don’t like getting sports balls? Just pick one up and see if you don’t start bouncing that thing.

4. A large mirror

The best thing about a large mirror is that they’re never as expensive as one might imagine. You can get some great deals on a large mirror at just about any big-box store. For an added bonus try sprucing it up with geometric shapes glued along the edges.

5. Snacks in a bucket

Just a bunch of snacks with seasonal paper sprinkled throughout a basket or bucket or some container is always a type of gift. Someone will eat it.

6. Slippers

Already got that special person some slippers last year? They’re probably not using them anymore so time to re-up.

7. Pop-culture ornament

You waited too long to get one bearing a photo of you and your gift recipient together. Just get a pop-culture ornament, duh. Find something that makes your recipient feel current, like a stormtrooper or something.

8. A tea set from a worldly kind of store

This one works especially well for mothers. Unique tea blends from stores that specialize in worldly goods is always a safe move. Try something infused with berries or chocolate, something no one will ever drink but looks good in the cupboard. Novelty above function has last-minute gift written all over it.

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