-Handmade gifts, if you have a particular skill (I once got a cute handmade pillow, with an applique of a horse on a background of silver holly, at the time I owned a horse named Holly.)
-Candy, if the person is not known to swear off such things (a box of fancy/boutique chocolate, or homemade if you like)
-gifts for their pets, if they have any
-gift certificates for spa services: massage, manicure or whatever (got this for my mom once, she dug it bigtime.)
I don’t think that I’ve ever given a gift that got oohs and aahs, unless it was a gift I already knew that the recipient wanted. With a couple exceptions, now that I think about it, but all of those could be classified as gifts of time. I took my parents to dinner and a show at the Pantages; I took my sister to San Francisco for the weekend for Cirque du Soleil; I’ve taken friends to concerts. Those were all well-received, and for me, the best part was getting to spend some time with people I love.
For your sister, you could do something of the same – maybe plan a dinner for you and her at her favorite restaurant (or tell her to invite a couple friends), or maybe do a spa gift certificate.
My son got the whole family the Pee-Wee’s Playhouse boxed set one year. Being a buncha goofs, we went wild for it. This year, he’s giving us all tickets for Blue Man Group. We’re going as a group on New Year’s Day.
Well, your sister probably won’t want her own mini catapult but I just saw this and so want to get one each for TikkiDad and his buddy. Picture a couple of old coots firing at will in the local donut shop hangout. Knowing them, they probably would too!
For handmade gifts, I recommend Etsy.com. The site has everything and you’ll get the satisfaction of supporting small businesses. Plus, you can find really cool, unique things. I’m thinking about getting something like this for people. Handmade-by-you would be extra special, but sometimes handmade-by-someone-else can be just as good.
I think one of the best gifts we ever gave were calendars. Yes, calendars.
We took 48 family photos to a print shop and had four calendars made up, with a different picture for each month. The cost I think was under $100 total, and each family got a gift they could enjoy all year.
Most real bonsai trees are meant to be outdoors and experience the four seasons. They are real trees, just tiny…people don’t realize this and keep them indoors, thus killing them. Of course, it depends on the actual tree, and if your four seasons are the same as the typical four seasons of the tree in question.
Even before I was a member of the SDMB, I used to give out Straight Dope books. Obviously, one needs to take Cecil’s salty language into account here and not give the books to anyone who is likely to faint should she happen to read the word “fuck”, but if she has any sort of sense of humor, or is curious about the way the world works, she might like the books.
These are making up part of the gift my fiance and I are getting his parents. They’re hibiscus flowers - you pop one in a glass and pour champagne over it and the bubbles stream off, opening the flower. They start at about $7 USD plus shipping but it looks unlikely that you’d get them shipped in time.
If she has a beloved dog you could book a pet photography session. That will probably run you about $100+
If she loves luxurious little things, perhaps a Diptyque candle (the cinnamon scent is beautiful). I think they’re $30-35 in the U.S.