The millennial generation may be different from their older peers thanks to mere size, with 80 million of them now coming of age in America.
But this group also has some different priorities and stresses (student debt, anyone?) than previous generations, which can make buying holiday gifts somewhat of a challenge.
For one, while they aren't as tied to organizations as in the past, they have grown up as digital natives and live, eat and breathe social networking. That may make a tech gift a great idea, although it's important to make sure the millennial already doesn't own the latest gadget before splurging.
"They love technology and they are early adopters of new tech, so if they don't have the latest gadgets and they are a gadget guru," that could be a good idea for a millennial, notes Jeff Fromm, the president of FutureCast, a millennial marketing consulting group, and the author of "Marketing to Millennials."
To be sure, millennials, the generation born between about 1980 through the late 1990s, also span a huge age range. The oldest of that group may be starting families and buying homes, while the youngest may be just thinking about applying to colleges.
"I would note that there are a lot of millennials in very different life stages," Fromm added. "You have a bunch in college and others starting their families. What does a high school student have in common with a 30-year-old woman who just had a baby? If you say nothing, you are right."
The bottom line, Fromm said, is know the millennial you are buying for.
Aside from that, millennials love affordable adventure, and they also tend to love pragmatic gifts that will surprise and delight them, Fromm added. That can range from a tech gadget to buying a "beer of the month" subscription.
Read on for gift ideas for your favorite millennial.
Craft beers, delivered every month
"If you want to be wildly cool, be useful," Fromm said. To that end, a monthly subscription such as a craft beer of the month club could fit the bill. The Rare Beer Club offers subscriptions that will deliver between two to six bottles of unusual beers (starting at $32.95 per month) to your favorite millennial. Recent offerings included a "Shameless Santa" beer from Denmark's To Øl , which the site described as having "candied and caramelized qualities."
Hand-crafted extras for gadgets
Chances are that your favorite millennial already has the latest smartphone. Consider a hand-crafted gift that will help her show off the device, such as this smartphone dock ($11.48) crafted from Australia's Jarrah tree, a type of eucalyptus. A wide range of wooden docking stations and iPad stands are available from various companies on Etsy.
Crowdsource an affordable vacation
Ask your millennial what type of vacation he or she would like to take. That might end up being a rock-climbing expedition, or a hiking trip in a state they'd never visited before. Once you get the details in hand, offer to pay for the trip, Fromm suggested. "Millennials love affordable adventure," he said. They also like the democratization of ideas, which is why picking their brains first is a good idea.
Back to the Future
What's better than supplying them with new tech that's a reminder of their childhoods? Many millennials grew up on Nintendo's SNES system, which is available in a new version from ThinkGeek ($24.99-$99.99). If you want to go for authenticity, considering buying an original on eBay.
For the bearded hipster
For some millennial men, fashion is all about their facial hair. The Honest Amish company offers a range of beard grooming products, from "beard balm" to "beard wax," which will range from about $13 to $89.50 for its "fully loaded" beard first-aid kit. The handmade beard balm has been a best-selling product on Amazon for more than two years, according to founder and "beard guru" J. Wolfgang Kushner.
Irony for your living room
Playing on the retro theme, some millennials might like slightly ironic household items such as pillows that read, "That is so dial up" ($44.20, on Etsy.) Gifts that are both cool and pragmatic can win over the millennial on your list.
Cold, hard cash
The millennial generation is one of the most debt-burdened generations, coming out of college with more loans than their elders. While it might not be a creative gift, cash is always appreciated, especially for millennials who are struggling with loan repayments. Still, Fromm noted, cash is the equivalent of "giving PJs to your girlfriend."
Millennials love entertainment and music, so a subscription to a service such as Netflix or Hulu would likely be appreciated. Tickets to a concert or a gift card to Amazon or iTunes would also likely be welcomed by members of the generation. Tickets to a concert would likely hit the sweet spot between an experience and music, Fromm added.