A friend is headed off to a 1st birthday party this weekend, and asked me about my favorite gifts for a one-year-old, since it is fresh in my mind.
Personally, I don't like electronic gifts- things that make 'annoying' noises (my husband was actually the worst culprit this time around), or anything too big, since we're short on storage around here. Touch-and-feel books are favorites, as are anything that 'shakes' (maracas, particularly), things that stack (blocks), anything that can safely be put in the mouth (stuffed animals or lovies), and puzzles with big knobs.
Above: maracas by schylling, charlie monkey book series (they have a robot, dinosaur, etc. as well), haba's first blocks (lots of fun things in the blocks: jingle bells, etc); melissa and doug puzzles (love those big knobs for little hands); jelly catz plush animals (they are SO soft and cuddly); and another great touch and feel book series, by Usborne.
There are many great independent vendors out there as well, so if you are looking for something more unique, head to Etsy.
Also- I promise to give a photo garland how-to very soon (hopefully tomorrow), since I know a lot of you have asked for one!