Well, here's a few patterns that I have my eye on, that are far from cliche (and p.s. they're all available as free downloads).
Nell by Lisa Gutierrez
I just love this vintage inspired tam.
Regina by Carina Spencer
This art deco inspired hat is absolutely beautiful. And what's really cool about this pattern is you can use any weight of yarn you choose - which is great for rebels like myself who hate to use the proscribed yarn for a pattern and often end up paying for it with and ill-fitting final product.
I'm Glad it's Plaid by Jane Roberts
I've already got this one on the needles and it's getting me all nostalgic for Christmas and snow days.
Milanese Lace Topper by tante ehm
Isn't it lovely, don't let the word lace scare you, you just might find it a fun challenge.
A Better Bucket by Amy Swenson
And if you're not into beanies or tams, how about svelte bucket hat?
Maybe I'll throw some mittens in the mix to keep things interesting. Come back tomorrow and I'll share some of my favorite mitten patterns.
And then there's the question of what to get the men in my family. I never know what to make them. knitted ties? golf club covers? another beanie? I could depart from the knitting theme, but I don't have any bright ideas there either. Good thing I've got some time to think about it. think. think. think.