For this one, I'm switching it up just a little. Last year my mom got a stack of knitted washcloths for Christmas, this year I gave them to her for her early December birthday instead.
Lest you think dishcloths are a crappy present, I'll tell you she requested them. And I often request them, too. They're awesome for scrubbing and pretty, to boot.
I think sometimes we try to think of gifts that are super-duper-special or going to blow people away. But really, some of my favorite presents are always of the "socks and underwear" variety--practical things that I use everyday, but that feel tedious to buy (or make) for myself.
These are a super simple pattern that I've improvised myself over the years. Using size 8 or 9 needles, I cast on 30. Then I knit for two rows, before beginning the stockinette portion. I keep a 2 stitch garter border on the edge to keep it from curling. When the cloth is about as long as it is wide, I finish off with a few more rows of garter before binding off.
If you work diligently in stolen moments--waiting for food at a restaurant, five minutes before you fall asleep at night--even a pretty slow knitter can average one or two a day. And two balls of inexpensive "Sugar'n'Cream" cotton yarn makes about seven cloths, so they're crazy frugal, too.
Wrapped up with a bottle of nice smelling soap and perhaps a pretty poem--it may be humble, but dishcloths make a sweet little gift.