Unless you're really lucky, shopping for gifts is tough! You need to find something for that lucky person that they'll appreciate, not something that just ends up on the return list. One easy mistake to make is to recognize a serious hobby the person has and buy something related to it. However, if the recipient is too serious about it, this could be a big, big mistake. If they're always buying the best tools and equipment for their hobby, what are the odds that you will find something they actually need? On the other hand, if you know what they've been wanting but haven't bought yet, go right ahead. Just make sure it's decent quality.
If they're serious, quality matters tremendously. Don't get too. err. personal with gifts either. Sure your best friend could stand to lose a few pounds, but a diet book just isn't going to cut it. Gifts like that can do more harm than good to a relationship.
Gadgets can be dangerous. Many of them really are not useful at all. Sure you can look and think they're neat, but will anyone really use them? If you are confident, go ahead.
If you just don't know, then skip it. There has to be something better out there. Handmade gifts can be wonderful, a delight to the eye and ever so memorable. They can also be truly horrendous gifts. If you think you can hand make your gifts, you'd better be quite confident in your talents and in the appreciation of others. I have only met a few people, aside from small children, who can get away with giving handmade gifts.
Buying clothing for anyone else is always a mine field. You really need to be sure of what they like and what size. If you're shopping for a child, make sure you know the right age and interests.
Children will speak their minds and if you give the wrong gift you're likely to hear about it. When in doubt call the parents and talk over some options. Gag gifts always sound like fun.
if you're the one giving them. Not so hot if you're the recipient. Many people really aren't all that fond of gag gifts.
You need to be confident in your mutual senses of humor as you select a gag gift so that you aren't merely being offensive. Gift giving is not easy. Wrong color, wrong type, wrong brand, wrong style can all equal the wrong gift no matter how much thought you thought you were putting into it.
Think about why you're giving the gift and how it's going to be used. Gift giving is supposed to take time, effort and consideration. Without that a gift won't mean much at all.
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.assortedgiftideas.com/ where she gives advice on finding great gifts for the people you care about. You can get more gift ideas for coworkers and others at her site.