Buying a present for someone you hardly know can be dangerous. You can end up looking like a moron if you're not careful — i.e., guessing the person's ethnicity wrong and buying them a gift based on that. Yeah, don't do that. How about just steering clear of any assumptions and sticking with these gift ideas that most people would like — or at least get a laugh out of.
Getting your neighbor, distant relative or elusive co-worker a funny gift will surely mask the fact that you don't know the person at all. And since the stranger probably doesn't know you either, you don't want to seem like a total dud. Nothing says, "I'm boring, don't be friends with me," like socks or boxed chocolates. Instead, get them this perfectly useful screwdriver that just happens to be an Arctic sea animal that every dense person seems to think is a mythical creature. Great for White Elephant or Secret Santa exchanges, too. $13.95 • Boo Radley's • 232 N. Howard
Everyone eats. That's probably the best assumption you can make when buying for the stranger in your life. Main Market has prepackaged gift bags and baskets with things like wine, caramels, pasta and sauce, maple syrup, coffee and even bath salts. This gift would be an elegant and safe bet for people such as your significant other's parents. $15-$75 • Main Market • 44 W. Main
Everyone tends to lunge at the gift-card option when faced with the buying-for-a-stranger challenge. Resist. Instead of giving them a superstore gift card they'll probably just use to buy deodorant, opt for a gift certificate that brings the everlasting happiness of paddleboarding across a beautiful lake. $60 for two people for two hours • Coeur d'Alene Paddleboard Company • 512 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene
Gifting plants is so late-1990s. But gifting bonsai trees is totally en vogue. OK, I just made that up. But seriously, it's a majestic-looking tree that never grows bigger than a squirrel. Who wouldn't want one? Not to mention the Zen-like serenity and possible Karate Kid powers it brings. $29-$150 • Ritter's Garden & Gift • 10120 N. Division St. ♦