No More “Dead Weight”: 7 tips for good job-related gifts

If you are like most Americans, you take a lot of pride in finding that perfect gift for people in your life. However, did you know that Americans spend over $13 million each year on unwanted gifts? According to, we spend between $650-1000 each year on holiday gifts. Do you want your hard earned money to join that $13 million dead weight?

We’ve all experienced the let down of getting a bad gift. The t-shirt of a boy band you didn’t even like when they were popular. The gaudy bracelet that bangs on the keyboard when you try to type. That ceramic rainbow that sits high on a shelf that you never dust.

To avoid being the person that gives that gift, follow these simple ideas for choosing gifts based on occupation

  1. Identify a problem: Does their job create a dilemma that needs to be solved? For example, a barber stands at their job all day, causing sore feet and back. When looking for a gift for a barber you might want to get an anti-fatigue mat to stand on or a back massager.
  2. Find job related activities: Maybe there are hobbies or activities related to their job that can inspire gifts. For instance, an architect might enjoy a Lego of the empire state building to construct during free time. Or they may like a tour of a historic building to check out its ionic columns.
  3. Give a keepsake: For a sentimental gift you can give jewelry, a holiday ornament, or a commemorative plaque using their job theme. By incorporating their occupation, you tailor the gift to their interests like giving cufflinks made from typewriter keys to a writer. Or for a coach, you might get a photo of their team with the players’ signatures.
  4. Help them relax: Do they have a high stress job? Doctors, lawyers, firefighters are just some occupations with high intensity. To help them unwind, give them vouchers for a vacation. Cook them a special dinner. Send them to a wine tasting. Everyone needs to set their job aside for a while no matter how much they love it.
  5. Personalize it: Get them something they can use at their job, but have it customized to make it special. A personalized water bottle will be a useful gift for someone who does a lot of public speaking, like a professor. A personalized heavy duty tool bag with lots of pockets makes a thoughtful gift for a carpenter.
  6. Educate them: No matter what job someone has, they can always learn more. Magazine subscriptions in their field, online classes, and reference books are always useful gifts. Look for classes that are new, to guarantee they haven’t taken them before.
  7. Go whimsical: When in doubt, go with something silly related to their profession. Give a tie patterned with the periodic table to a scientist. Give a bird themed clock that sings to a veterinarian. Or give literary rocks glasses to a librarian. These will all get a chuckle. Plus they will never forget who gave it to them.

Note of caution

When buying gifts based on occupation, stay away from gifts that are too specific, like a new drill, computer software, or a baseball glove. Unless you are in the same occupation, and are an expert in the area, you won’t know the specifications they need, leading the gift to flop.

Now it’s your turn!

The best part is that you don’t even need to know much about the person’s occupation with these gifts. You just need to know something about their personality to narrow down your choices. If they have a sense of humor, choose a whimsical gift. For more serious people choose a practical gift that will solve a problem. Or if they are sentimental, choose a keepsake gift or get something personalized.

You can do this! This time, instead of fearing the frown, you will give your gift with confidence. Use these steps along with your knowledge of their personality to make this your best gift yet.

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