Candles impart instant ambiance to any setting, but there's no guarantee that the gardenia-pumpkin-peppermint-patchouli jar candle that you think smells so heavenly isn't going to give the recipient a headache — or an asthma attack. Instead, try these unscented oil candles that, when lit, project the shadow of a tree. As the flame flickers, the tree appears to move in the wind (UncommonGoods, starting at $6).
Subscriptions are undoubtedly gifts that keep on giving, but if you're like me, the magazines (or jelly) can start to pile up when you're low on downtime (or toast). Instead, give a shirt-of-the-month subscription that will allow the recipient to pick out a different funny T-shirt every month for 3 months to a year (BustedTees, starting at $50).
Alas, a framed photo of you or the kids can be touching, but how do you know what kind of frame will complement the recipient's decor or whether there's even room for another picture on his or her wall or mantelpiece? Instead, give a bound photo book filled with photos and remembrances (LoveBook, starting at $30).
If your family has played Trivial Pursuit so many times you know all the answers, and if you've worn the dots off your Yahtzee dice, mix things up by giving your family a funny, unconventional board game such as Oh No... Zombies! or Unexploded Cow (Perpetual Kid, $22; Cheapass Games, $25).
During the holidays, when we're typically stuffed to the gills with cookies and other confections, another tin of baked goods might go stale before they're eaten. Try eliminating a step and whipping up a batch of homemade frozen cookie dough that the recipient can thaw and bake later to indulge a post-holiday sweet tooth.
Those cute little baskets of perfumed oils and bath salts make good gifts if you know that the recipient actually takes baths — but some people prefer showers. What's more, you have to know that she'll like the scents and that the products won't irritate her sensitive skin. Skip the headache and give a bath caddy instead. It has a place for a book, a beverage and other bathing accoutrements (RedEnvelope, $50).
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