The Gift-Giving Guide, Part III
3. The Perfect Gift
What it is: I struggled a bit with the name for this category of gift, because the Perfect Gift may not always be the perfect gift. (Lawful Gift sounded weird, though.) Anyway, the Perfect Gift is the gift that's exactly what the recipient wants -- the gift that they would buy for themselves, only they haven't gotten around to it (or, even better, they don't yet know it exists).
Who it's good for: This gift is good for almost anyone, since it's defined as something they want. The lack of creativity might possibly annoy someone who was very rich (i.e., if they genuinely were going to buy it for themselves next week or something), but there aren't many people like that on my gift list.
Who it's not good for: This gift is almost always a good fit on the giftee side, but it's really easy to screw up on the giver side. For starters, you have to know the person well enough to pick out a Perfect Gift. (It's easy to think you've got it right, but to be veering into Personalized Gift territory, instead.) Also, you have to make sure that the person hasn't actually bought the gift for themselves already, or that someone else hasn't bought it for them. (Such situations can be mitigated if you happen to live with the giftee already, and can thus rifle through their clothes or CDs or books to find out what they already own.) Also, by buying someone only what they would buy for themselves, you miss out on the chance to introduce them to something new that they might like if they gave it a chance. (Plus, some people would rather get something sort of random than something entirely appropriate, however unexpected.)
Bottom line: This is a great gift in theory, but it can be tricky to execute in practice, because it relies on your knowing the recipient very well.