How many gifts do you plan to make? How much time do you have?
What makes a woodworking gift special is that you took the time and invested the effort to make it yourself with the recipient in mind. Those are the most important features, by far.
What makes a woodworking gift extra special
is if you do something that separates the gift from common kits or commercial plans where the projects look the same as everyone else's projects, or look the same as products that you can buy in stores, mass produced with cheap labor. (I was at a club meeting, watching a demonstration of how to make a very simple, commonplace project. An old, wizened woodworker sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, "We go to the store and see stuff like that. I tell my wife: I can buy that for you, or I can make it for you for twice as much.")
-> Tricks include modifying the design, using an interesting wood or a nice combination of contrasting woods, a special finish, or incorporating decorative elements that make your gift unique. Drill stopped holes and glue polished rocks or marbles or inlay small bits of dark or light woods to add artistic interest. Sometimes it is just making the project to a quality level that can't be bought at any price any longer.
In my opinion, the very best gifts are handcrafted, one-of-a-kind objects where you do your own unique design and apply your best creativity, stretching your skills to the limit. ... all done with the recipient in mind. They also take the most planning, time, and effort. That was easy to write, huh?
Take the time to look at other peoples' designs. Do a web search for "unique 'xyz' designs" and see what pops up. I see a lot of truly unique, creative ideas. One of them might inspire you. Try this:
(Don't stop at the top ... scroll down and keep scrolling. Replace "clock" with whatever tickles your fancy. Try replacing "unique" with "unusual" !!)
I don't like to make direct copies. I prefer to use designs that I see to stimulate fresh new ideas of my own.
I keep a list of creative project and design ideas in a file on my computer. They are special projects I want to design and make, things that I have never seen done before. Whenever I think of an idea of a project that I want to make, I write it down and add it to the list later. Some ideas are whimsical, and some are practical. Some are beyond my current skill set. Sometimes I make prototypes to test ideas. I would love to share them, really! Sorry, but I dream that one or two might be worthy for entry at our local county fair. :-(
I hope this helps.