I believe that the best kind of present is something the person will love, but would not buy for him or herself. Things like a label maker (which a friend of mine was delighted to receive for her birthday this year...everyone's different) or a pressure canner (which I really want, but can't afford right now) are not things I would like to get as a gift. They're too practical, and I will eventually buy one myself, probably long before I can justify spending money on something frivolous that I would really love to have anyway.
Every Christmas, people who love me ask my husband what they can get me that I will love, and I tell him "I have a wish list on Amazon. Also at the knitting store." It's become my predictable response. My mother noticed last year that the list contains books I added in 2000. That's because no one has bought them for me yet. And whenever I get a bit of money, I have a hard time spending it on a book I mainly want for reference, which is what most of those are. Reference books are a bit too much of a luxury at this stage of my life.
Yarn is like that too. (Although I have somehow managed to acquire a rather sizeable stash, given that I feel I almost never purchase yarn.) It's a luxury item, mostly for the joys of ownership and contemplating the pleasure I will have knitting it up at some point in the future. I have a hard time spending money on that...but oh, how I love it when I can add some new treasure to my stash.
I was leaving Knit Night last Monday, when a woman pulled me aside and said "I have something for you." I followed her out to her car, and was totally and completely gobsmacked (isn't that a wonderful word?) to be handed a TRASH bag full of yarn. That's a lot of yarn! And it was accompanied with the words "Please don't feel at all guilty about this! I was cleaning out my stash anyway, and wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it."
You have no idea how much I appreciated it! It's no secret that my budget, especially for non-essentials and luxuries, has been pretty scant the last few years. I was so touched that this woman thought of me, and was willing to pass along the yarn she no longer wanted. What a wonderful gift! It absolutely made my day...and still brings a smile to my face every time I think of it.