Nine Impressive (but Affordable) Gifts to Buy Someone You Don't Know Very Well

Dazzle your new friend, colleague or in-law with your chic taste — without breaking the bank.
Suz Tucker
Published on July 08, 2021

Nine Impressive (but Affordable) Gifts to Buy Someone You Don't Know Very Well

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Dazzle your new friend, colleague or in-law with your chic taste — without breaking the bank.

Shopping for people you know intimately can be a challenge, so when you're required to buy a gift for someone outside of your inner circle it can be downright intimidating. But it doesn't have to be.

Bookmark this page for future gift-giving inspiration, because, in partnership with American Express, we've gathered a selection of options that'll cover you for any personality type and scenario requiring a present. We'll even let you take the credit for having an excellent eye for products. Bonus: none of the following options are all that demanding on your wallet and they can be found online or inside the doors of independent shops worth seeking out in a neighbourhood near you.


  • 9

    In the world of gift-giving, few things can compete with food in terms of its absolute guaranteed ability to please. And you can’t go wrong with a great condiment. Honk Mustard ($20) is a regional delicacy from across the Tasman Sea. It’s based on the family recipe of maker, Kaarina Honkavaara. A winning combo of spicy, tangy and sweet that is the key to any mustard worth its salt (and vinegar), Honk Mustard can tart up a simple sandwich or deliver that extra kick in a potato salad. Either way, grab a jar from the carefully curated selection of goods at Sorry Thanks I Love You, whack a bow on it and you’ll immediately improve someone’s pantry.

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  • 8

    Becker Minty is a hidden oasis off Macleay Street in Potts Point. Side note: it always smells amazing. It carries a wide selection of quality gift options ranging from high-end furniture to the brand’s own signature stationery. The notebooks ($29.95) have a stylish textured cover in a handful of colours and come in a slim A5 size — ideal for tucking into pockets or bags. Stationery is the new scented candle so go on and add to cart.

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  • 7

    Wine makes a wonderful gift but it can be a little risky if you’re unfamiliar with the particulars of your giftee’s palate. Here’s the perfect middle ground. In this mini tome ($22) published by Aussie ‘micropublishers’ Somekind Press, you’ll find the wine wisdom, optimism and sense of fun that are the cornerstones of the P&V Wine and Liquor Merchants crew. And, when you go pick one up for your next round of gift shopping, you can also gift yourself a bottle of P&V’s juicy Session Orange. Win-win.

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  • 6

    The handmade ceramics by Ned Collections are so attractive it’s hard to believe how affordable they are. Stocked by the tasteful crew at Collector Store in Paddington and Surry Hills, the Harmie Vase ($15–18) has gentle curves, a pleasing matte external finish and a glazed watertight internal finish. It comes in a range of tones — from a creamy neutral-meets-mauve to a deep terracotta — that’ll look great on display with or without blooms. Not only will the person you gift this to be impressed by your great taste but they’ll have a new object that they’ll actually use.

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  • 5

    Chocolates are good. Someone famous once said that. It’s not on the record or anything, but there’s a 100-percent chance that at least 60 famous people have at some point uttered those exact words. Remember what we said about food being an unassailable gifting choice? Well an offering of assorted handmade chocolates in a sweet little bow-wrapped tub ($28) is about as good as a food-related gift gets. Just William is a Paddington institution that has been producing mouth-wateringly good truffles, pralines and ganaches since 1984. So when a box of Favourites isn’t going to cut it, you know where to go.

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  • 4

    On every card in this deck ($14.95) is a short bio on a different woman from history who has contributed to changing the world, from Maya Angelou to Malala Yousafzai. Because the only way to improve a focused game of solitaire is with some extra female achievement thrown in. Pop into Monsterthreads Newtown (a haven for last-minute gift shopping) and pick up this deck to provide the gifts of entertainment and inspiration all in one go.

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  • 3

    If the gift recipient you’re buying for sports facial hair, make your way to The Strand Arcade and duck into Men’s Biz, where you can choose from a selection of grooming accessories and beard and moustache products. The Captain Fawcett’s Moustache Wax ($44) has great hold and a light sandalwood scent that isn’t overpowering. Paired with the neatly designed comb, it’s a premium option that — as one reviewer on the Men’s Biz website advises — is “great for chunky lip brooms”.

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  • 2

    Orchard Street’s outpost in Bronte, The Dispensary, is a light-filled retreat of shelves lined with beautifully scented herbal and nutritional medicines and lifestyle products that promote wellness. If you’re choosing a gift for the self care-inclined, this chic water bottle ($42) is the one. Not only will it keep your acquaintance well-hydrated — it holds up to 900ml of H2O — but it also looks damn beautiful. Plus, copper has been linked to containing anti-inflammatory properties, which could be a nice fringe benefit for your friend.

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  • 1

    When in doubt, a set of coasters rendered with paintings of Australian marsupials dressed in clothes is the answer to your gifting needs. For one thing, coasters are the gift that keep on giving. And, more importantly, in the case of the Sunny Outback eight-pack ($15.99), they’re incredibly amusing conversation fodder. At Card King in the CBD’s Metcentre, you can pick these up and grab a card at the same time. Two birds, one stone. Too easy.

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Buying a present for your pup instead? Check out our list of gift ideas for your very good boy over here.

Now is the time to support the places you love. Shop small online to support the local stores that make Sydney so great. To learn about American Express and the Shop Small initiative, visit here. Then, head this way to find more must-visit spots.

Top image: Just William Chocolates

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