A compilation of 12 Gender Neutral Gift Ideas: a guide for your loved one(s) this holiday season (or any season, birthday, anniversary, special occasion, or just Sunday).
1 – A BOOK
Everyone appreciates a good book, regardless of age, race, gender, hair color, or food preferences. Poke around the giftee’s library or check their FB feed for hints of what kind of book they would like (take a peek at the LGBTQIA Reading List for trans/genderiffic ideas).
What books are on your reading list?
2 – A BOARD GAME
I’ve been a fan of board games since I was a little kid. They always brought my family and friends together (or apart, depending on the game). While some board games, particularly for children, are heavily gendered, many are not, especially the classics.
What are your favorites?
3 – A FIELD TRIP
This is more of an experience than a physical gift, but it gets you out of the routine. Organize a trip to the zoo, an art museum, an interactive science museum, an aquarium, an amusement park, or even a nature hike. Check for free or discount days at your local spots.
What place would you like to go to?
My significant other once organized an entire day of fun for my birthday: the zoo, bowling, laser tag, dinner, and dessert!
4 – A MOVIE
It can be an opportunity to splurge on the 3D IMAX for the newest release, purchase a long-time favorite on DVD, renew a subscription to a movie streaming service like Netflix, or simply cuddle up under your favorite blanket with some hot cocoa (don’t forget the mini-marshmallows!) and enjoy a cozy night in.
Now, keep in mind that it’s possible for a movie to lean more heavily towards one end of the gender spectrum (think chick-flicks vs muscle-action). So unless you can have a good notion of what they like, let the person choose the movie.
What are you watching?
5 – A CLASS
Give the opportunity to try something new, or perfect a skill to the next level. There’s cooking, music, drawing, or pottery for the artistically inclined, or sky diving, rock climbing, scuba, or archery lessons for the more adventurous. How about knitting, clock-making, motorcycle-driving, or coffee-roasting to break out of the ordinary?
What classes are on your wish list?
6 – A CAUSE
Make a donation to a charity. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen, visit the pet shelter, spend an afternoon at the LGBT youth center. Spread the word about a cause you believe in.
7 – A TOUR
Tour a winery, a special exhibit at the museum, a local attraction, an exotic locale. Let yourself be guided somewhere new.
8 – MUSIC
Music enriches our lives, whether it’s in the background or takes center stage, and takes many forms: tickets to a live concert, a subscription to music streaming service, a CD (does anyone still buy those? my computer doesn’t even have a slot for it), perhaps a vintage vinyl record, or simply an iTunes gift card.
It can also be to produce or listen to music, like Rockband (my favorite video game), a drum set, guitar lessons, a kick-ass speaker system, state of the art headphones.
9 – FOOD
Food is a broad category. A food gift can be a special dining-out experience (like the time we went to that really fancy place), a special dining-in experience (like the time we tried to made poached eggs for the first time), a food class (how to use knives without cutting your finger, something I desperately need), a food tasting (chocolate!), a food tour (a chocolate factory tour!). It can be a gift you baked (chocolate cookies!), a gift you bought (delicious apple pie with salted caramel ice-cream).
In the end, if it involves chocolate I’ll be happy.
10 – TECH GADGET
My my, so many choices: music player, tablet, smartphone, eReader, smartwatch, video game console, cameras. It doesn’t have to be something big and expensive; try a gift card for a tech store, an eBook, a video game, an app.
You can also consider a regular, non-tech gadget, though they seem to be less popular these days. One time we took a friend to the hardware store so he could pick out the toolbox he wanted.
11 – A HAND-CRAFTED, PERSONALIZED LITTLE SOMETHING
Sometimes something physical can be worth more than the amount of money it took to buy it, if there is a lot of thought and meaning behind it. A hand-written postcard, a picture album featuring memorable moments, a personalized mug or mouse pad or coffee tumbler or t-shirt or calendar, an embroidered blanket, a picture frame, a puzzle.
Last year we gave my parents and in-laws a personalized calendar, with pictures of the family and important dates.
12 – TIME
Devote all your time, all your attention, to one person. Go out with someone you care for, just the two of you. Talk on the phone with someone far away for hours. Give yourself an entire day without distractions. “Quality time” doesn’t have to be perfect, but we can often forget to set aside a little while for others, so create this opportunity to just be with each other.
GIFTS TO AVOID (or use with extra caution)
I purposefully left out some gifts from other popular lists, because a lot of them are heavily gendered. This can sour the gift giving-and-receiving experience by reminding someone how their gender is not in line with others’ expectations of conformity. It can publicly embarrass them, make them upset or angry or simply sad. It sends the message that you don’t really know this person and their preferences, or that you don’t respect them. It also completely ruins the gift.
So unless you know that your giftee likes and wants this specific type of gift, and you have an idea of what size, color, style, fit, and side of the gender aisle they would enjoy, steer clear of these.
Though generally female-oriented, even men’s jewelry (like a nice watch) can easily fall into the “heavily gendered” category. Moreover, there is a wide range of jewelry in terms of style, color, price, occasion, which increases the likelihood of making a wrong choice.
It’s impossible shop for clothes without being immediately funneled into boy’s and girl’s sections. As with jewelry, clothing is very personalized.
If you really think someone will enjoy clothes as a gift, opt instead for a gift card to a generic store where a wide variety is available for them to choose.
Tickets to “The Game” or “The Ballet”
Thinking of a “boy’s/girl’s night out?” Think really hard on this one. Is it something this person would specifically like? Moreover, would this person be comfortable going out to an event surrounded by a single-gendered group?
Gender segregation among children’s items, including toys, seems to grow more pronounced each year (or is it just my imagination?). Children are complaining, adults are complaining, though I guess marketers are happy because they’re still doing it.
When purchasing toys, make sure you avoid the pink oven or the blue soldier unless you know that is something this particular child will enjoy. There are so many gender-neutral toy options out there – legos, puzzles, books, board games – it shouldn’t be hard to find something fun that doesn’t make your kid cringe with gender pangs.
OTHER WONDERFUL IDEAS
But there is always more to give! Lots of ideas didn’t specifically make the list (perhaps you can squeeze them into a category).
Giving the perfect gift can be hard. It always comes down to the individual: their hobbies, their likes and dislikes, what they already have or don’t have yet, and of course, your budget.
19 thoughts on “12 Gender Neutral Gifts”
2. If you have the chance, try Rummikub. A kind of domino/strategy thing.
3. The British Museum
12. Yes. That. More than anything.
I’ve played Rummikub since I was 7, it is definitely one of my favorites! I LOVE the British Museum, and the Tate Modern. Wish they were closer!
You’re one of the first people I’ve talked to who know what it is! Pure addiction.
I could live at the Brit M!
If the gender-neutral person in question has recently changed their name, then I’d recommend anything with either their new name or new initial(s) on it. My favorite gift from last year was a set of magnets that spelled out JAMIE that ended up on an overhead file cabinet in my cubicle. Oh, and anything that would be fun for me and my dog.
Oh no, I forgot to include pet gifts!
I just realized my trans* daughter would love her new name super pink glittery on her bedroom wall. I don’t own super pink glittery. But I shall find some!
I used to love my name on pretty much anything when I was her age.
(Also, I didn’t know Egg is now your daughter. Big step I guess!?)
In June she stated she is a girl, she’s a big sister and not a brother, and her name is Rose. She was 4 1/2. She’s amazing.
Books: I just had a birthday, and a friend gave me a sci-fi book written in 1976 called Trouble on Triton, because the premise is that the main character changes their gender from M to F. I have not really explored sci-fi / fantasy (and have yet to crack open this book), but I’m pretty sure there are lots of books with gender-bending in this genre!
Also, I read a YA novel recently that was about a FTM trans person that I’d recommend. It’s called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.
Sometimes I just choose to ignore the gender of stuff. I’m getting my preschooler a toy kitchen. For his sister years before, I’d found a gender neutral one. He has it as a hand-me-down and loves it and it’s falling apart, so I got a replacement, that’s pink because a comparable gender neutral version cost fifty bucks more that I didn’t have.
The cool thing is, he doesn’t care. But it’s frustrating how very few toys are gender neutral.
xxx Hugs xxx
Yeah I got girly pajamas, not happy right now…
I got Jeremy three Doctor Who DVDs so far. Later I’m getting fuzzy pjs (preferably purple), a purple sequin pillow (on zir wish list), and hopefully a mini remote control car (also on zir wish list).
children don’t care for genders, why would you?
I’m 12 and non-binary so yes we do after a certain age 🙂
It’s funny people mention pet gifts. Most of what I got from family was cat related. Which is great since whenever I get a purse, etc. all I can do is say thank you, feel like a horrible person for lacking gratitude, and drop it in the donate box later. But a cat toy or that book of hilarious cat POV poems provides lots of entertainment.
(It’s not them being insensitive, I’m so in the closet gender-wise that when I told my LGBT+ support group I was agender I felt embarrassed I spilled the big secret).
I’ve had books go horribly wrong, with people gifting me very hetero and cis normative romances or sexist hard sci fi, or other frustrating things (I’m just not into Teenage Boy Comes Of Age By Being An Ass or Teen Girls Hang Out).
Also, because of my physical disabilities, any sort of get out of the house thing (movie, museum, whatever) is fraught. So is food—I’ve sent so many well-intentioned food gifts to work with someone. Best to avoid unless you know the person well.
I actually really like getting clothing—I slide enough gender-wise that it’s hard to buy something I *won’t* wear occasionally. But, people in my life have caught on that if it has sheep, kittens, or Captain America on it, I will wear it all the time.
My personal favorite gift is plushies and throw blankets. I can never have enough, and it’s pretty easy to get neutral blankets. All the kids in my life get plushies, too, because how can you go wrong with a stuffed moose?
This list is full of excellent suggestions!
I live a bike ride away from Butchart Gardens (#7). I’ve met people who buy the annual pass and their kids have it as a second backyard.