It’s that time of the year again. Christmas is approaching fast. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not matters little; it’s the season of giving and love. Everyone deserves something special this Christmastime, and what better way to show how much you care about your loved ones than by giving them the perfect gift?

If you still don’t know what to give them, or are still looking, don’t fret! It’s not too late. Ditch the picture frames and mugs, because we’ve made a list of gift ideas perfect for your loved ones, friends, and colleagues, regardless of their personalities.

For anyone: Books

Take a trip to any major bookstore and you can almost always find something that someone will be interested in. Do you have any friends who are into photography? Why not get them a manual that can help them take better shots, or even a book filled with the work of their favorite photographer?

If you have any religious relatives, you can head over to the Religion section and buy them a copy of Pope John Paul’s biography, or even a simple Christian devotional like Our Daily Bread. Otherwise, you can just look up the Fiction best-sellers, pick one and giftwrap it for your Christmas party.

Better yet, order your books online. Most major bookstores in the Philippines now offer delivery services on their Web sites for maximum convenience.

For office workers: A cotton or fleece jacket

For Filipinos who have lived and grown up in the Philippines, where temperatures can reach up to a blistering 36 degrees centigrade, it can be quite an unnecessary expense to buy a thick jacket for warmth. It used to be simply way too hot to be of any use anywhere outside Baguio.

But with the continuing rise of the business process outsourcing industry, more and more Filipinos have the opportunity to work in airconditioned offices, where more often than not the temperatures can get more than a little freezing. Most offices don’t allow the thermostat to be touched at all, making it imperative to have something to keep you warm. Your officemates can do far worse than have a new jacket to let them be more comfortable at work.

For everyone: Umbrellas

The hot climate is only half of the experience of living in the Philippines. The other half involves the difficult, often brutal, rainy season. Anyone who has lived in the country for more than a year can agree that commuting under the pounding rain and buffeting winds is a miserable experience. One cannot have too many umbrellas here. Most people would benefit from having spare umbrellas at home for the possibility of theirs getting lost, broken, or stolen.

For people you don’t know that well: Socks

Boring? Maybe. Useful? Definitely. Socks are often ridiculed and stigmatized as being an unattractive, disappointing gift, but no one can deny their significance to daily life. A good pair of socks can last years if well taken care of (there’s very little chance for any adult to outgrow them), and a really comfortable pair can provide a huge improvement to quality of life. They can come in various designs and colors as well, giving a layer of customizability and personality to the wearer.

Will it make your Secret Santa excited and awed? Maybe not. Should you give socks as a gift for the holiday? If you seriously don’t have an idea what to give as a gift, why not? They’re way better than picture frames.

For travelers: A passport bag

Your passport is the single most important object you bring with you when you go abroad. It serves as your identification, and your way back home. Losing a passport in a foreign nation is a heap of trouble that no one deserves to go through.

A passport bag, a wearable one preferably, can do a lot to ease the stresses of traveling. As long as you keep the bag on your person, you never need to worry about losing anything valuable. The only caveat to giving this as a gift is that your recipient may already have one. Be sure to check before buying.

For the ambitious: Colognes or perfumes

Among the list of things that can improve your standing as a professional is how you look and carry yourself. Hygiene, clothes, and confidence can make all the difference between getting a boost in your career, or getting stuck at a dead-end. How you smell can play a part in that. While you can’t really give away confidence or good hygiene, you can provide your friends and loved ones a subtle improvement to their self-image.

For friends and family who tell you they don’t want anything: Time

Through the shopping rush and mad scramble for gifts, there are those who acknowledge the stress and difficulties of the season. They are the ones who insist they don’t need nor want anything, and would much rather stay at home rather than join the throngs of people celebrating the holidays at the mall. These types of people are perhaps the most challenging ones to find a gift for, so it’s probably best to stop trying to look for one.

Rather, just spend time with them. Talk with them, make them feel appreciated, and celebrate the holiday discovering the true meaning of the season. Plus it’s free. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran