In a world of material things, there are certainly plenty of occasions to buy a person a present: Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Valentine's Day, Anniversaries, and the list goes on. However, one of the most important occasions for the Disney fan is a trip to the parks. You can't necessarily buy everyone something every time you go to Disney, but usually I try to bring at least my closest friends and family something back. The problem is that after a few trips, the best presents for someone start to run out...mostly because you already gifted them...so you have to expand to find the greatest possible presents, and there's more than a few ways to do that.
Starting with a Disney Movie is always a great way to go. Ask about their favorite Disney movie before you go if you're not already aware - although you probably already are - and then search out various gifts that are based on that film. Some are definitely easier to find, such as Finding Nemo, The Lion King, or Frozen, while others may have less merchandise or require some searching to find: Wreck-It Ralph, The Aristocats, or Tangled. If you know that film, it's absolutely simple to find a gift relating to it, whether it be a creatively-designed mug, a pin, or a plush character, and with the collection of film merchandise available, the limits are pretty much endless.
Example: The pin I got for my freshman roommate: a pin inspired by her favorite Disney movie: Aladdin.
Autographs and Postcards make great gifts too, simply because they come right from the source. A couple of my favorite things to do with character meet and greets is have them sign postcards for friends back home, but also record short videos saying hello (if they're a face character) to your friend, which you can then send immediately to bring a bit of magic to their day back home. Our Disney friends are always more than willing to help you send a shoutout, all you need to do is ask!
Example: In January of 2015 we sent home postcards signed by our friend's favorite Disney characters.
Unique Gifts are perhaps my favorite type though. What I mean here is a gift that really captures a specific place. It could be a country around World Showcase, a specific park, or a Disney Resort, and while it usually requires a bit more thought and time to find a gift that captures the uniqueness of both the location and the person it's for, it's always worth it.
Example: My all time favorite present I've ever gotten for someone fits in this category, and it's a Piston Cup Trophy for my best friend.
Group Presents can sometimes be fun too, and are sort of a play on Unique Gifts, but are more widespread. If you can't decide exactly what to get a person, and maybe you wish they were there with you, it's super easy to put together a sort of mini-gift basket of "wish you were here" things. That could mean something from every park, a collection of foods, a set of pins, or a "First Visit Survival Pack."
Example: I've actually done both a "wish you were here" basket and a "First Visit Survival Pack" for each of my friends. The "wish you were here" included one gift from each park, as well as a set of various Star Wars pins, and a candy apple from Magic Kingdom. The "First Visit Survival Pack" was a long time in coming, and included gifts such as a First Visit pin and button, autograph book, Pin Trading starter pack and lanyard, Disney Gift Card, and park maps.
Free Gifts aren't always the most substantial present, but they can certainly be fun! There's all kinds of free things across the resort if the person you're gifting to doesn't mind a few odds and ends. There's buttons, park maps, autographs, and plenty of odds and ends depending on what park you're in. I'll include pressed pennies in this category too, since they're a relatively low cost item!
Example: This past January, my Dad said he only wanted us to not spend money, and therefore, added that we didn't need to give him anything. That didn't seem right to us though, so we made a collection of free things that we gathered throughout our trip. I don't remember everything we got, but I know some paper cups and park maps were included, as well as the free gifts we were given during our experience at Splitsville.
Food is one of the harder, but sometimes most worthwhile additions to presents, and it's one thing I usually always try to add in if I can. If you're driving, the options are pretty much endless to what you could bring home unless you're going to take more than a day or two to get there. If you're flying, I recommend double checking the TSA List of allowed foods, which can tell you where you should keep that food during your travels, or if you can bring it at all. I will say though, we've successfully brought home plenty of candy apples (in our checked luggage), as well as macarons, caramels, bread, rice crispy treats, caramel/candy corn, cookies, and candy.
Example: Every trip to Disney that my brother isn't on (and often when he is too), I'll pack away his favorite candy apple in my suitcase for the ride home. These sometimes melt a bit if it's during the warmer months, but I haven't had many problems getting them home thus far, and I've repeated this process for several trips.
As you can see, there are tons of options and chances for you to find that perfect present, and all it takes is a little bit of thought. I recommend that if there's something you see that reminds you of someone though, get it sooner rather than later. I've had several experiences where merchandise will run out before I can get back to get it, so keep an eye out there!
Have a magical day!