Practical Gift Ideas for Supporting Your Unemployed Friends and Family

Being unemployed is incredibly difficult-especially during the holidays. You probably know someone close to you who’s been let go or is looking for a new, better job.

Giving your unemployed friends and loved ones a thoughtful gift could really go a long way. Think about what sort of things they need or that would help them out the most, depending on their situation.

Here are some practical gift ideas, great for any occasion, that will not only show them you care but can help them through this challenging time.

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Gift Ideas To Help Your Job Search

Job searching resources and supplies make great, thoughtful gifts to give to someone who is unemployed. Many of these ideas will continue to be useful after they land that new job, too.

What Color Is Your Parachute?

This is one of the highest recommended books when it comes to job hunting and career advice. Back when my dream job turned into a nightmare, I used an earlier version of this book for advice and encouragement and to help figure out what was next for me, career-wise.

Buy It Now from Amazon →

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Another go-to for job hunters, this updated adaptation is full of practical advice for succeeding in your personal and professional life. It’s a great resource for improving your communication, leadership and efficiency skills.

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Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

There are literally thousands of books that can benefit someone looking for a job, exploring their career options, or upgrading their job skills. Rather than picking just one or two that you think would help your loved one, why not give them access to them all?

Buy It Now from Amazon →

woman reading book with coffee at home
Image Credit: IgorVetushko via

Portfolio Binder

This zippered portfolio binder is the perfect companion to any interview. Keep your documents in order, your resume looking pristine, and business cards handy – with a notepad to write down anything important.

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Leather Briefcase/Laptop Bag

Keep your portfolio, laptop, and all your other job-search-related items together and ready to go with a professional, high-quality (but not bulky) briefcase.

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5-Piece Desk Accessories Set

Staying organized while job searching is crucial, but can be tough. A good accessory set can help keep your desk and all your pens, pencils, and important paperwork and stationery in order so nothing gets misplaced.

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bright colored stationery and books
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Office Supply Bundle Pack

Keep your office supplies handy with this box set. Including colorful sticky notes, note paper, pens, tabs, and labels.

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216 Piece Set of Binder Clips, Paperclips & Push Pins

Job hunting can require a lot of paperwork, especially if you’re applying in multiple fields or to multiple locations. Step up your organization game even more with pins, paperclips, and binder clips.

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Classic Black Blazer

It’s important to look professional when dropping off resumes, attending networking events, and for interviews. A classic blazer is a quick, easy, and affordable way to take your current wardrobe pieces up a notch. Check out a similar look for men.

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businesswoman in office drinking coffee
Image Credit: EdZbarzhyvetsky via

Wool Pea Coat

For the days that a blazer alone won’t cut it, a quality pea coat is another perfect gift idea for the unemployed person on your list. Stay warm and look professional at the same time.

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Mini Sewing Kit

Help avoid any interview wardrobe malfunctions with a 100-piece travel-sized sewing kit. Mend a fallen hem, pin shut a loose button or quickly address any other potential issue.

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A Good Umbrella

Having a good umbrella on hand will help keep you dry, clean, and professional-looking on those dreary days. With a lifetime guarantee and a vented double canopy, this umbrella won’t flip or break and is small enough to fit into your bag or leave it in your car.

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Thank You Cards

Another important part of job hunting is sending a nice thank you card after an interview or other important networking event. Sure, you could simply send an email, but why not stand out instead by sending a handwritten thank you?

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Business Card Holder Case

Speaking of networking events, having a place to store business cards might come in handy. Yes, they still matter, even in this digital age. The holder can also be used to store your loyalty and points cards.

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A Day Planner

Keep all those application deadlines, interviews, and other priorities in one place. With this planner, you can also record your goals and to-do lists, too.

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Printer Ink

Between your resumes, cover letters, and applications, actively looking for jobs requires a lot of printing. Even though many companies have moved the application process online, bringing a printed copy of your resume to your interview is highly recommended. Having printer ink at home is so much easier than having to go to the library or print shops all the time. Just be sure you get the right brand and cartridge type for the printer they have.

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Grammarly Premium

Grammarly Writing Support

Improve your prospects by making sure your resume, cover letter, and email correspondence are all error-free. The premium version of Grammarly offers the same features as the free version but takes it further. Its more advanced features include plagiarism checking, genre-specific styles, and vocabulary enhancement suggestions.

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A Portfolio or Professional Website

A professional portfolio website is a great way to impress potential new employers and share all of your accomplishments beyond what can fit on a resume. With affordable monthly hosting and a domain name registration, there are many free and paid resources available to spruce up the design or enhance your content to really stand out from the crowd.

Buy It Now →

Gift Ideas To Help You Take Care of Yourself

Self-care is crucial no matter who you are or what’s going on in your life. Here are some great gift ideas to support mental health for the out-of-work loved ones in your life. (Or maybe you’ll want to treat yourself, too?)

Journal or Notebook

Being between jobs can be a very stressful time. You need a healthy outlet to express your emotions. Journaling for even as little as 5 minutes a day can clear your mind, improve your memory, and reduce stress and anxiety.

Buy It Now from Amazon →

Aromatherapy Spa Gift Basket

This gift box set includes everything you need to relax with a little spa treatment at home. This kit contains 20 different items, including bubble bath, body butter, an aromatherapy scent candle, a bath pillow, and essential oils. Perfect to help you unwind after a long day of pounding the pavement or to stay calm the night before an important interview.

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Deep Kneading Massager

Going to a massage therapist can get expensive quickly. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. This heated massager has an ergonomic design and flexible strap to reach your shoulders, neck, back, legs, and feet.

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Blackout Curtains

These are the exact curtains we have for our living room (this color, too). They really do blackout the light, and also help reduce noise and insulate around the window. Hang them in your bedroom to help improve your sleep.

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White Noise Sound Machine

Another way to get a better night’s sleep is to drown out those nagging thoughts with a white noise sound machine. Get one with numerous sounds to choose from and lets you control the volume level, too.

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Sunrise Alarm Clock

On the flip side, you don’t want to end up sleeping through important events. Rather than checking your phone all night to make sure your alarm is set, only to be to woken up by a buzzer or ringtone, why not wake up in a more natural way?

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Casual Pants

As tempting as it can be to stay in your pajamas all day, the simple act of getting dressed can do wonders for your productivity. But at the same time, putting on a full suit or a nice dress just to wear around the house is a bit much. Comfortable, casual clothes are the perfect in-between.

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Loose Pullover Casual Top

On that same note, a nice pull-over sweater paired with yoga pants or leggings and a tank top can make you feel more put-together but still comfortable.

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Check out my Self Care Gift Guide for even more self-care gift ideas and suggestions. Including inexpensive, unique gift ideas to help you sleep better, relax, improve your health and well-being, spruce up your workspace, and more. There are over 50 ideas, all for under $50 each!

Gift Ideas to Help You Learn and Grow

Taking courses while between jobs is a great way to spruce up any resume, brush up your skill set, or learn something new!

Some you can do from the comfort of your own home and on your own schedule, while others will get you out of the house and interacting with other people.

Annual memberships make great gifts, or sign up for a class together!

Find local events and classes, both free and paid, to increase your knowledge and network, or enjoy a night out without spending too much.

Lynda or LinkedIn Learning

Offering a free month trial and free access with many library cards, earn certificates from over 6,000 courses.


Get a free trial, followed by unlimited access for less than $12 a month to all of their 24,000+ courses.


With courses starting at $12.99 each, you can get lifetime access to any of their over 80,000 courses.

Your Community Resources

Between your local library, community centers, employment centers, arts and non-profit organizations, health units, counseling centers, credit and debt counselors, schools and upgrading programs, there are numerous courses and supports available to you. Many for free or at affordable rates.

Gift Ideas To Help Your Household

Being out of work can really impact your family members or the other people you live with, as well. Giving gifts that everyone in the household can use is a great idea.

Budget Planner & Expense Tracker Notebook

If you’re between jobs, you need to keep your finances on track. Creating – and sticking to – a budget is one of the best ways to do so. One of the best financial tools out there is this budget planner and spending tracker notebook.

Buy It Now from Amazon →

Cash Budgeting Envelopes

One of the easiest ways to stay on budget is to ditch those debit and credit cards and use cash instead. A gift set of 5 different colored magnetic reusable cash envelopes fits perfectly inside most wallets. It’ll keep your cash safe and your spending in check.

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Foodie Gift Basket

Gift baskets make great personalized gifts. This gift basket designed for foodies includes an assortment of meats, cheeses, and gourmet snacks for everyone to enjoy. Or you could build your own handmade gift basket and include things like cookbooks, mugs, a cutting board, and hot sauce.

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Portable Charger

Never miss an important phone call or email due to a dead battery again. With a portable charger, you can charge your phone, tablet, E-Reader, or laptop while on the go.

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Programmable Thermostat

Gifting a programmable thermostat is a good way to keep your bills low and stay on budget. The Nest Thermostat learns your personalized habits and automatically adjusts the temperature, saving you money.

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Garment Fabric Steamer

Keep your interview and business attire looking crisp and wrinkle-free without relying on dry cleaners with a good fabric steamer.

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Amazon Echo with Alexa

There’s a lot you can do with an Echo and Alexa to help keep your life in order. Set alarms, listen to music or audiobooks, make hand-free calls or send messages, or check the weather, traffic, your calendar, and more.

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Emergency Roadside Kit

Don’t let car troubles be the reason you miss out on a job interview. Packed with over 40 items, including a first-aid kit, be prepared for all sorts of emergencies.

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Desk with Storage

If there isn’t a designated office or workspace at home, making one can be as simple as getting a nice desk. It’s small and compact enough to fit just about anywhere but has a large tabletop to spread your work out, with storage space to keep yourself and your paperwork in order – and off the kitchen table.

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Filing Cabinet

Add more storage space to your desk or office with a filing cabinet. Perfect for keeping all of your important paperwork organized.

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Gift Card Ideas

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a gift card or gift certificate. It’s probably one of the best gifts for someone that’s unemployed so that they can decide to shop for what they need most. They are also great for those last-minute gift-giving needs.

Gift Cards for Pretty Much Anything:

Gift Cards for Clothes and Personal Care:

  • Dollar Shave Club
  • The Gap
  • Hair Cut/Salon
  • Fitness and Yoga Classes
  • Manicure/Pedicure
  • Massage
  • Nordstrom
  • Old Navy
  • Sephora
  • Your Local Mall

Gift Cards for Entertainment:

Gift Cards for the Household:

Gift Ideas to Help That Don’t Cost A Thing

One of the best gift ideas for someone who’s unemployed would be to get them a good job. If only it were that easy, right? But there is a lot you can do or give that isn’t a physical gift at all.

Just be sure to always respect their boundaries. You want to support them, not add to their stress.

Give The Gift of Your Knowledge

Share any job leads that would be suitable for them. Especially if you have a personal connection at a professional organization and you can put in a good word for them with the employer.

Introduce them to anyone that can enhance their professional network, or that could make a great mentor.

If you’re tech-savvy and they aren’t, offer to spruce up their resume so it passes the 6 second glance test, help them develop a personal portfolio website, or create an easy-to-fill-out job searching spreadsheet for them to use.

Attend classes, courses, or events in your area together. It’s so much easier to attend these sorts of things with a friendly face by your side.

Let them know about any programs or community supports that are available to them.

Give The Gift of Your Time

Spend quality time with them. Get them out of the house. Attend a class or networking event together. Babysit. Drive them somewhere. Invite them over for dinner. Review and edit their resume and cover letter. Practice interview questions with them. Give them the pep-talk they need. Remind them of all the talents, skills, and abilities they have. Listen to their frustrations and struggles. Check in with them regularly.

Just be there for them.

Knowing that they have your support can mean more than anything else.

Whether you are looking for a Christmas gift during the holiday season, a birthday gift, a graduation gift, or just want to give gifts from the heart, this list can help you find the perfect gift for your unemployed family member or friend.

YOUR TURN: What would you add to the list of practical gift ideas for the unemployed loved one on your list? Please leave a comment and let us know!

Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN,, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.

71 thoughts on “Practical Gift Ideas for Supporting Your Unemployed Friends and Family”

  1. My bestfriend is currently unemployed right now and I’m thinking of giving her a shirt, but all these items are so interesting! I think it would also be great to give her desk accessories, or maybe organizers? Ugh, it’s so hard to choose.

  2. This is such a great assortment of practical yet necessary gifts for anyone in your life who may be unemployed. I personally love the books you started with as a way to reinvigorate the mind back to a work life mindset. I think after a while you slip out of that and it shows in interviews if you have been unemployed for too long. I would add, Who Moved My Cheese? to that list of books to get them thinking again.
    As for the rest of the gifts, I personally loved the Pea Coat, that think looks awesome and I just bought printer ink recently and dang is it expensive! So good call on that as I assume you will need ink to print out those resumes. Maybe add to the printer ink a ream of the high quality resume type paper!

  3. If you can afford a smart thermostat as a gift, I would definitely recommend it. They really can save a person a lot of money, especially helpful when it’s a person who is currently unemployed.

  4. I think that if I had an unemployed friend/family member I would get them a general gift card so that they can get what they want for themselves or their families.

  5. My uncle is a top executive and he says everyone should always take a very nice leather briefcase to an interview. He says even it is empty, still take it.

  6. My husband bought me a small sewing machine. I’ve been able to make masks to give away, and some to sell! It’s a small way that I can “give back” while out of work.

  7. These are really great ideas but I like the good ole day planner. Something about putting things on paper versus on a phone appeals to me.

  8. What Color Is Your Parachute? has been a terrific resource for decades. I definitely agree with your recommendation of it. Same goes for the Kindle.

  9. I think the Kindle ereader is a great idea. There are a lot of good cheap or free books that a person can read to get some skills relevant to the job market.

  10. All great ideas for unemployed or employed people. I would buy a grocery gift card because I’m very practical. Boring, yes, but everyone has to eat.

  11. I always enjoy getting a fun gift basket. It’s a very stressful time for people like me looking for a job, a basket full of relaxing products would be a sweet gift.

  12. The book ‘What Color is your Parachute’ was very helpful to me way back in 1974. I can’t believe it’s still around, but had lots of good advice.

  13. These are great ideas but I also think if they have not tried finding a job in a while, a book to interviews and resume writing would be good too.

  14. The umbrella is a really really good idea. Right now I am looking for a job and it has rained here on my last two job interview days. I have no clue where my umbrella is anymore.

  15. The Thank You cards are one my favorite go-to items when job searching. I learned to do this little extra step years ago and think it still holds true today. For myself I would really like the planner. I’m still into writing my calendar down, instead of doing it through a computer/phone.

  16. Oh, these are great ideas. I am a practical gift, gift buyer! Several of these I could see being my choices!


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