1. Make the present an event.
Be creative with the packaging! Instead of just handing them a gift in plain wrapping paper, think of the gifting experience as an event, and you want to make sure they enjoy it. Hide your gift and send them on a treasure hunt to find it.
2. Now, literally give an experience.
Do you love Les Mis, but already have the book, the film and the movie poster? Buy your tickets to see the show. One of my all-time favourite gifts I've ever seen was a step-by-step mystery guide that sent the giftee to a restaurant, bought him dinner with the Flying Spaghetti Monster and paid for him and his date to play in the arcade.
3. Make a list of all the things the person cares about and the things that define who they are.
Spend at least two full minutes writing down as many things as you can. Now brainstorm something to go with each item on that list, small or large.
4. Looking back.
Perhaps someone on your list recently graduated from university and could frame their diploma for display. One of the participants in our gift exchange received a painting of her dog who had died the year before. Let them relive their childhood.
5. Ask yourself what the person needs.
I know what you are saying. Stop it. They DO need something. The key is to think broader. What does a successful, super-busy businessman need? Time, probably. There are tons of products out there to help people run their lives more efficiently. You could even ask other people you know what their career advice is.
6. Do some harassment.
If all else fails, lurk. Most people have a wish list on Amazon, and will be very surprised and delighted if you somehow find just what they wanted without even asking, and they may even have forgotten they wanted it.
7. Include a bit of yourself.
Make it personal in a different way, personalised for you rather than for them. Create a piece of art, write a song, knit a scarf, you get the idea.
8. Make them laugh.
Don't just give a Kindle. Give your crazy liberal friend a Kindle hidden inside a copy of Sarah Palin's autobiography. Know someone who loves potatoes? Give them 22 pounds of them.