If you have a fixed amount of money to spend - and your goal is to display your friendship, rather than to actually help the recipient - you'll be better off deliberately not shopping for value. Decide how much money you want to spend on impressing the recipient, then find the most worthless object which costs that amount. The cheaper the class of objects, the more expensive a particular object will appear, given that you spend a fixed amount. Which is more memorable, a $25 shirt or a $25 candle?
Overcoming Bias has recently become one of my favourite websites. It is a joint blog run by the rather imposingly named Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. Of the contributors, Eliezer Yudkowsky (author of the above quotation), in particular, seems to combine being fairly prolific with always having something interesting to say. Other contributors are the philosopher Nick Bostrom and the economist Robin Hanson.