'A' for Accessories 'B' for Books 'M' is for Music

Gifts for the Hard to Buy For

I presented a gift guide in partnership with American Express last week, featuring items that could be purchased through their Membership Rewards program. I also asked if you needed help finding gifts for anyone, and today I’m going to follow up and help out with some ideas for the hard to buy for people in your life.

American Express Points for Presents Gift Guide, Part 2

  • Brothers

    Emily said: “I always struggle with new gift ideas for my brothers in their mid-late twenties. I always go with t-shirts or something boring like undies or socks.” And Valerie said: “I’m trying to figure out what to get my brothers (18 and 19) that isn’t in the video game/dvd/gift card oeuvre. But I’m pretty broke this year, so I have a $40 limit for both of them. Everything I’ve looked at so far that I thought would be good goes way over that!”
    There were a lot of requests for brotherly gifts! This Cards Against Humanity game (4) looks awesome, and you can’t go wrong with a Jon Ronson book (Brandon and I both like him). Lost at Sea (5) is Ronson’s newest. You can pay for these with points through Amazon’s checkout.

  • Sisters

  • Ashley said: “I’m having a really hard time coming up with something for my 18 year old sister. She has so many interests its hard to narrow down a meaningful gift.”
    I think sisters would enjoy the brotherly gifts above too, but if you’re looking for something a little more girly, perhaps a bracelet with meaning (2)? The one shown represents strength, motivation, and knowledge, but it would also just look cute as part of an arm party. If she’s a maker, use a gift card to west elm to buy beautiful heirloom scissors (3).

  • Parents (Yours or Hers/His)

    Marie said: “I could use gift ideas for my boyfriend’s parents!! We’ve been dating for 1.5 years and although I’m not very close with them (distance makes it tough), I’d like to give something thoughtful.”
    Give tickets to a show. I cashed in a bunch of my Amex points recently to get tickets to The Book of Mormon (1) (Brandon and I will be going on our anniversary in May). You can pay with points through TicketMaster, so there are tons of options for shows and concerts that they’ll like.

  • For Those Who Don’t Need Another Thing

    Hillary said: “Would love advice about what to get my dad and stepmom. They are retired, don’t really need any “stuff” and are just plain hard to shop for. I usually default to restaurant gift cards but would like to give something more thoughtful. Help!”
    Give to charity. Donate your points to Hurricane Sandy Relief (6), or to another charity on behalf of your gift recipient.

  • The Wild Card

    Sarah said: “I’m having a tough time coming up with something for a family gift exchange. It could go to anyone in my family from my 12 year old niece to my 50+ uncles. I seem to only be able to come up with girly or adult ideas.”
    My best bet for one-gift-fits-all is How Music Works by David Byrne (7) (pay with points on Amazon). It will appeal to book-lovers, music-lovers (young and old — doesn’t everyone agree that David Byrne is awesome?), and it has a technology/science bent.


I was selected by American Express to help educate consumers about how to use Membership Rewards points. As such I was paid for my services as an ambassador, but all gift choices selected and opinions about the gifts and American Express are my own.

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  • jess
    December 10, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Thanks for the great idea…ordering the David Byrne book for my boyfriend right now!! He will love it.

  • Audrey
    December 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Great idea on the musical – guys (and dads) can def enjoy the BoM. It’s supposed to come to SLC this year, and I couldn’t be more excited!

  • Gina
    December 10, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I actually just bought Cards Against Humanity for my gf and we played it this weekend for the first time with some friends. It’s super-fun and hilarious, but not for the easily offended.

    • Making it Lovely
      December 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      Yes, I should have mentioned it can get a little out there. Thanks.

  • Brady
    December 10, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Seconding Gina’s comments – Cards for Humanity is hilarious (and they have expansion packs as well as a new holiday pack) BUT it is extremely crude/raunchy/off color. Perfect if you have someone that enjoys those types of things but make sure you read in to it before buying it! I’ve seen some awkward situations come from gifting the game without knowing what it’s like =P With that said – if you like crude humor then the game is awesome!

    Love the How Music Works suggestions! Looks like I have another gift for my father!

  • casacaudill
    December 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Cards Against Humanity is currently my favorite game, but it does take a dark and warped sense of humor to truly appreciate. I mean, some of those answers get … rough. You also have to be really comfortable with the people you’re playing with because your answers reveal a lot about how you think.

    I bought tix to The Book of Mormon for our NYC trip in February. Holy cow they were expensive.

  • Kristín
    December 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I think books are under-valued as gifts, I worked in a bookstore and I was often amazed at how afraid people were to pick books to give to others. I often give guys from approx 16 and up the book Mouse by Art Spiegelman, 100% positive feedback. :)

    • Making it Lovely
      December 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      I agree. I love books as gifts — to give and to receive. But I was a bookseller for a long time too, so maybe we’re biased!

  • Valerie
    December 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you! I think I’ll buy Cards Against Humanity for my oldest younger brother; he’ll love it.

  • Gemma
    December 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Just so you know some of your readers (like me) find the Book of Mormon show to be tasteless and bigoted. I am really surprised/disappointed to see this as a recommendation.

    • Rachael
      December 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      Gemma did you see the show, or are you just basing your opinion on hearsay?

      I found it to be pretty respectable to Mormons as a whole. Yes there is humor, and some of it is offensive just for the shock value (its made by the people who made South Park, that’s kinda a clue of what you are getting into) but it only points out things that are universally said about Mormons as a whole, and shows the Mormons’ response.

      I’ve even seen interviews with Matt Stone and Trey Parker where they’ve said they can always tell when Mormons are in the audience because they laugh at jokes that no one else gets. Hell, even the LDS church in Los Angeles is advertising in the Playbills of the LA shows because they think it’ll bring more people into the church.

      Nicole was only pointing out that there are lots of shows available with the AMEX points, and BOM is one of them. No need to get nasty.

      • Holly
        December 11, 2012 at 3:53 am

        Since when is civilly expressing disappointment and explaining why “getting nasty?” Some of us do find the show to be offensive, tasteless, and bigoted.

        Thanks for listening, and seriously…have a great day!

    • Making it Lovely
      December 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Sorry, Gemma. The recommendation is really more for the idea of a show in general. I didn’t mean to offend.

  • Dallas Landrum
    December 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I LOVE BoM and I ooze taste…so…I suppose taste is relative. Be surprised/disappointed that not everyone enjoys the same things!

    Just keep in mind who the gift is for and keep it safe if you’re not sure.

  • Christy
    December 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Thanks for posting this! How Music Works is the perfect gift that I have been looking for.

  • Eileen
    December 11, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Cards against Humanity is a blast. Hands down my husband’s fav game when we have friends over. Definitely agree with Gina that it is not for the easily-offended.

    There are a few expansion packs for the game that you should get if you like the game itself.

    Thanks for the list!

  • Brooke
    December 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

    To echo Gemma and Holly I am little disappointed about the BoM recommendation as well. Entertainment shouldn’t come at the expense of something that someone holds so dear. Especially something held by so many fellow bloggers I might add!

    • Rachael
      December 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      But did you see the show?

      I truly did not find it to be offensive at all. Even though I’m not Mormon, its not fun to just go to a show that bashes a religion for 2 hours, and the BOM didn’t do that.

      I ask that you give the show a try before you judge it, just like you would want someone to meet a Mormon, read the Book of Mormon, attend a service at the Temple, etc. before judging Mormonism. Right?

  • Sarah
    December 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for the David Byrne recommendation! I was feeling a little sad not to have received a recommendation in the comments about my family gift exchange, but getting a blog entry recommendation was way better!

  • Kim @ Yellow Brick Home
    December 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Cards Against Humanity is the BEST GAME. We play it constantly with our friends, and it never gets old.

  • Callie
    December 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Cards Against Humanity is HILARIOUS (but not family friendly.) It never gets old. The makers of the game actually have it available for free on the website, with directions for how to print and cut the cards. We downloaded the PDF and got it printed at Office Depot for about $14. Totally worth a little DIY, even if you don’t give it as a gift.