How to Get a Gift for the Person Who Has Everything

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Even if money's no object, it takes creativity to find or buy a truly memorable gift for someone who has everything. Think of his or her personal history, memories and passions and you're on track to make a lasting impact. These starting points and strategies will help you channel inspiration, no matter what the budget.

  • Tap into the universal fascination with family roots. Buy affordable software to help someone trace a family tree; Family Tree Maker is one of many good products (genealogy.com).

  • Name a Scottish whale or another beautiful creature after him or her. The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (whales.gn.apc.org), photo-identifies minke whales and lets you name the creature exclusively for its lifetime (20 to 30 years) for $150 and up. You'll receive a photograph, a certificate and a year's membership.

  • Get a fabulous wall map of an area your recipient is interested in at RandMcNally.com or exquisitely rendered maps or globes from NationalGeographic.com. Order topographical maps or an aerial photograph from the U.S. Geological Survey (usgs.gov). Historical maps start at $12. A 36-by-36-inch full-color aerial photograph might cost around $75.

  • Compile family memorabilia--photographs, certificates, personal notes and family documents--into a keepsake album. Get it professionally bound. Or buy an album from an archival store--ask for guidance on acid-free paper, preservation and mounting.

  • Ask a local historical society, parks organization or botanical garden in your recipient's hometown about donation options. Explain that you're looking for an item with special meaning. Maybe you can have a tree or park bench dedicated with a plaque (the likely cost is several hundred dollars and up).

  • Hire a master perfumer to create a unique scent. For around $20,000, French perfumer Oliver Creed will create one--the fee includes airfare and three nights in a top Parisian hotel.

  • Commission a local writer to write your recipient's life story and help you print a limited-edition book. Check with the Association of Personal Historians or visit its online directory (personalhistorians. org) for local writers. Prices start at several thousand dollars, so consider making it a group gift. (See How to Hire a Ghostwriter to Pen Your Memoirs.)

  • Order a special keepsake for descendants of immigrants via the Ellis Island Foundation (ellisisland.org). Track the appropriate ship's passenger manifest and order a copy, along with a depiction of the ship.

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