The Myers-Briggs type indicator is one of the most popular personality tests. It divides people in 16 types based on four preferences, each noted by a different letter: I (introverted) or E (extroverted), S (detailed thinking) or N (big picture thinking), T (logical) vs. F (relational decision making), and J (preference for planning) or P (preference for spontaneity).
It’s fairly easy to guess the personality type of people you know well, and while it’s not the end all, be all of their personality, it does put their behavior into perspective–as you know a bit about what they value and how they like to make decisions. If you don’t know your own type, here’s a quick test.
With a bit of thinking about the personalities of people in your life, you can find a few gift suggestions for their perfect gift listed below. Giving someone something that they are suited to like, or that is based on their personal interests ensures the gift will be one of the most meaningful they receive this holiday.
Identify one: That quiet, dependable, rational accountant you know. Famous examples: Jamie Hyneman (host of Mythbusters), Gordon Ramsey What to give them: A practical gift like a tool set or a detail oriented fun project like a difficult puzzle or a model building kit. The more millennial version of these options may be a home brewing kit for a beer loving ISTJ, or the famous make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin’s in-depth make-up tutorial book, Making Faces, and a quality brush set.
Identify one: A rule-observing, generous, quiet and loyal person. The one that always volunteers to pick you up from the airport or help you fix a leaky sink. Famous examples: Bruce Jenner, Kate Middleton What to give them: A classy gift that will last forever, or something that can help this person help others.
A gift like Carla Hall’s Cooking With Love, will bring your friend pleasure in mastering a new skill, and also in providing comfort (food) to others. A couples massage is a fantastic idea for an ISFJ partner, because they’ll value knowing you’re sharing the experience with them.
Identify one: Your serious friend that has a graduate degree in something like social work or did Teach For America.
Famous examples: Simone de Beauvoir, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Noam Chomsky
What to give them: Something meaningful and smart, like a leather bound copy of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, a subscription to The New Yorker, or an autobiography of someone they admire, like Hillary Clinton.
Identify one: Your smart and interesting friend who prefers to be alone, reflecting on or researching who-knows-what so that next time they venture out into a social situation they can make sure you acknowledge how smart, interesting, and intellectually untouchable they are. Famous examples: Ayn Rand, Mark Zuckerberg, Christopher Hitchens
What to give them: Since they already know everything there is to know about everything, find something that synthesizes one everything times another. A book on the philosophical underpinnings of important 90s-era rap lyrics or The Rosetta Stone discs for an eastern European language they started to learn while overhearing their seatmates’ conversation on an 8-hour flight back from Morrocco. Whatever you decide on, it’s best to flatter an INTJ with an intelligent or somewhat esoteric gift that compliments their intellectual ability and taste.
Identify one: Your friendly neighborhood auto mechanic. ISTP’s like to understand how things work.
Famous examples: Steve Jobs, Stanley Kubrick
What to give them: ISTPs are crafts people–they likely already have a known hobby like scrapbooking or building computers. If you can given them something around their hobby–go for it. If you don’t known what they’re interested in, their desire to learn how things are put together make The Mythbusters Game a great fit. They’ll also love a guide to something they already own, like their motorcycle or a guide to photo editing.
Identify one: The laid back artisanal friend who you imagine could never hurt a fly.
Famous examples: Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Sofia Coppola
What to give them: An acoustic guitar, a certificate for a pottery making class, or some other guide that allows them to explore their creativity.
Identify one: This person can best be described as your brilliant, nerdy-in-the-coolest-way but super-sensitive friend. They have a quick answer for everything but are also quick to take what you say personally, but only because they feel so much. Famous examples: Kierkegaard, J.K. Rowling, Christopher Robin (from Winnie The Pooh) Gift idea: Something that relates to their very specific, quirky interests. If you aren’t sure what it is,
buy them the latest piece of technology and let them find a way to meld it into their unique interests (unlike their counterpart the ENFP, they value a iPad as an instrument through which to express their intuition just as much as a dream catcher.) Any gift that feels personal to their interest, or even one that doesn’t but includes a personal note, will make them feel special.
Identify one: The person who cares infinitely more about thinking an ideas than talking with people. You probably have no idea what they are talking about half of the time, in part for lack of social skills and in part because they are just that much more intellectual than you. You respect them, even if you don’t understand them. Famous examples: Albert Einstein, Richard Dawkins, Jimmy Wales Gift idea: Rubik’s Cube, conspiracy theory book, or when in doubt, any of those complex brain-teasing puzzles from Sharper Image.
Identify one: They are the center of attention, often found regaling the group with hilarious (and often controversial) stories while the typically more introverted, neurotic crowd listens in jealous awe. Famous examples: Donald Trump, Bret Easton Ellis Gift idea: Something that will make them feel confident in social situations like a nice watch, cufflinks, or piece of jewelry. A powerful person’s biography. A set of nice wine glasses or champagne flutes for their home.
Identify one: In the nicest, most sincere way possible, they remind you of a black lab.
Famous examples: Hugh Hefner, Richard Branson Gift idea: A ping pong table. Croquet lessons. Polo lessons. Racquetball lessons. They already know the other sports, but when in doubt, throw ‘em a ball.
Identify one: Your most free-spirited friend who often bounces from worldview to worldview in their curious and endless attempt to explore all the ways to think about things. They’ve told you at some point about the person they think they were in their past life.
Famous examples: Hunter S. Thompson, Oscar Wilde, Anais Nin
Gift idea: The novel, Enlightenment for Idiots. Something related to their ideology du jour, bonus points if it has a heightened sense of mystery, intrigue, or adventure. A travel book to India, a copy of The Screwtape Letters, a set of tarot cards, a handmade journal with lock and key.
Identify one: The quintessential hipster type. Need I say more? You’re reading Thought Catalog after all.
Famous examples: Machiavelli, Barack Obama, Gift idea: Anything that makes them seem in-the-know ahead of time. Concert tickets to an obscure music festival.
The first batch of beer brewed from a local, sustainable strain of blueberries. A cookbook for a type of western Nepalese cuisine which involves ingredients you have to buy on Amazon. Classes for a type of yoga so bizarre it’s like having sex with yourself. Whitewater rafting. Turtlenecks. The point here is that you have to present it as “some crazy thing you read about in the New York Times” and let them think they invented it.
Identify one: The most serious, deliberate person you know, who has a 10-year plan delineated in a trapper keeper and a daily budget kept down to the dime. Famous examples: Martha Stewart, Ivanka Trump Gift idea: A gift card or anything with a gift receipt. They already know what they want and your best attempts to give it aren’t going to ever match up to their extremely particular expectations.
No offense, they like it better that way. If you want to go out on a limb, get them something useful for their ambitions, like an iPhone 5, an expensive pen, or an eReader for business trips.
Identify one: Everyone’s favorite hostess. They love to make other people happy, and thrive when you show your gratitude for their social prowess. Famous examples: Andy Rooney, Sarah Palin Gift idea: An apron. For a lady, something vintage or vintage-inspired (hint: if you want her to like you, buy it at Anthropologie). For a man, it should be humorous, like a full-frontal depiction of the Statue of David or some kind of snarky slogan like “Keep Your Hands Off My Buns!”
Identify one: Your super-accommodating friend whose secret social insecurity you’re well versed in. Famous examples: Ronald Reagan, Reese Witherspoon, Dr. Drew Gift idea: Anything customized. From a piece of jewelry to a specialty tea blend, if you can prove you actually memorized what their personal preferences were while all they were trying to do was meet your needs, they’ll be endlessly grateful. Try going to a food coop and pick up a few essential oils you select especially for their needs.
Identify one: The self-appointed executive of your family or social group. Famous examples: Margaret Thatcher, Rahm Emanuel Gift idea: An axe. Seriously. Give them a real power tool or a decorative reminder of the power they exude from their strong personality.