(Princess Grace wraps Christmas gifts for her children)
Personalized Cutting Board
Full disclosure: I actually got this idea from the aforementioned and otherwise very expensive GOOP gift guide. The personalized cutting board, however, is on the lower end of the GOOP pricing spectrum. Plus, a house ware can usually go to a couple making it two gifts for the price of one. I ordered this cutting board from The Monogram Shop and, instead of just putting a family name or monogram, put the address of a family member who recently began to build their dream home (NOTE: monogramming is not included in the price and a longer monogram/phrase will, of course, be more expensive). They are personalizing an entire home and now they will have a cutting board that is made for their dream kitchen as well.
Necklaces with the initial or monogram of a friend or the initial of their child/children is always a beautiful gift to give (bangles work as well). Also, daily planners or makeup bags are great daily use items that can be personalized and that will keep you in your friends thoughts every time they use that item. If you have a friend who has a new apartment, give them a personalized throw blanket or hand towels. If you know someone who was recently married and loves giving dinner parties, linen napkins with their new monogram make a great gift. Also, there is the old monogram standby, the L.L. Bean tote, a practical gift that is also stylish and available in an array of colors (NOTE: If you have a friend who just had a baby/is about to have a baby, get the baby's name on one of these totes as a cute and casual diaper bag).
"This Book Belongs to..." Stamp
My second eldest sister got married a few years ago and I was at a loss as to what to buy her for her wedding. She does not cook and does not really care about decorating her house (I have always insisted that we need to get genetic testing done to see if we are, in fact, related). The one thing she definitively loves is to read so for her wedding I bought her a personalized rubber stamp with a sail boat (her husband coaches sailing) and the words "From the Library of (their married names here)". The stamp was a big hit and she immediately went home and personalized her extensive library with her new name. Even if your friend is not getting married but just loves to read, a stamp like this one makes a great gift. If you have a friend who loves to read but with their iPad or eReader get them a case with the same words on it: "From the Library of" gives an old-fashioned twist to the modern technology.
I bought mine from a local boutique (local to my hometown) in Stuart, Florida called Matildas. They sell these stamps at many stationary stores (usually anywhere you can buy wedding invites, etc.).
Personalized E-Reader or iPad Cases
Example found here at Neiman Marcus
I have always believed that the ultimate in personalized stationary is by the company Mrs. John L. Strong (they made Brooke Astor's stationary!). However, there are tons of alternative options at lower price points and with just as much panache. Snail mail seems out of date? Head over to Paperless Post and get your friend a gift card: they can order their own personalized snail mail stationary to match their Paperless Post e-stationary.
There are also many great options on Etsy.
Gym, Tan, Gift
My best friend loves Physique 57 and everyone I know loves Soul Cycle. We all know (even if we have to force ourselves to resist them most of the time) that those specialized gym classes are expensive so purchase a gift certificate for your friend to their favorite class or buy them a tanning package if they like to tan. A friend who loves facials? Buy them a new type of facial that they have never tried.
Wine of the Month/Cheese of the Month/Whatever Your Recipient Loves of the Month Club
You have a friend who is an oenophile or a cheesehead in the non-Wisconsin sports sense? Purchase a wine of the month/cheese of the month (I never understood why Liz Lemon was judged for this)/fruit of the month (Florida orange groves send beautiful citrus year round) membership for you friend. Harry & David has lovely packages as do many vineyards in Napa.
I Always Wanted to But Never had the Chance to "X"
I have a friend who has always wanted to learn to ski, another who wants to take up tennis again and a third who always wanted to try horseback riding. You can fulfill their dream at least for a day by purchasing them a lesson (purchase a tennis lesson or ten at Chelsea Piers, buy a certificate for an afternoon of horseback riding in Central Park, or take advantage of the numerous Gilt specials for discounted ski lessons upstate).