Here are some ideas for tricky people. They won’t work for everyone, of course, but maybe one of them will be suitable for your tricky person:
- Australians are often impressed by something really old and you may be surprised by the price you’ll pay for an ancient coin. Something rare or in superb condition will be expensive but check your nearest coin dealer for common Roman coins: they could well be within your budget even though they were minted two thousand years ago.
- Blokes who don’t care for clothes shopping sometimes like to be given fancy socks (with pictures of ducks or chess pieces or robots to match their interests). This is particularly good for middle-aged men who are feeling old-fashioned: you can choose something funky and modern but, because they’re just socks, the men can wear them to the office without having to update the rest of their wardrobes to match.
- People in nursing homes are winding their possessions down rather than up, so they tend not to need vases and golf clubs. But there’s often particular food they like (Turkish delight, tomato relish, Monte Carlos) and puzzle books and hankies can be good too.
- Any of the Small Present food ideas (see 19 April) upscaled appropriately: a big box of fancy chocolates; a collection of liqueur miniatures; a range of sauces from a specialist chilli shop; a recipe book for a particular cuisine along with a selection of spices used by that cuisine.
- I’ve mentioned calendars before because you can find something tailored to even the most niche interests and it’s generally not a problem if a person has several.
Jeremy and Danni and I went to Hannah’s place last night to dine with Caitlin (my ex’s current wife) and Pixie and Poppet (her daughters). Lachlan had made tabouli and Caitlin mentioned that she hates chopping parsley and I immediately started thinking about giving her a herb snipper for Christmas but then I remembered that you don’t give presents to your ex’s current! But it did remind me of another source of present ideas for tricky people: if you have something useful that you absolutely love, be it a kitchen gadget, a gardening tool or a fantastic weather app, consider giving that to anyone with the same interests.
 Auntie Betty gave Uncle Geoff a vintage tractor for Christmas back before anyone else was interested in them. First she thought she’d done well because he loved it so much, but then she regretted it when it inspired him to start collecting vintage tractors (and to keep building new sheds to house them). She thought it was a good idea again when she sold them all when he died and made a truckload of money.
 Several is generally not a problem, but three or four from every year of your life can be. My friend Carol threw out a suitcase of her hoarding mother’s old calendars and was criticised for ditching family history but she was unrepentant. “Nobody needs to know who went to the dentist twenty years ago,” she insisted, “and even fewer people need to know when the third-last car they owned was serviced.”
 I’ve got a really good one and it works so well that I gave one to every cook in the family a few years ago.