Serious diggers and gardeners need good tools to do a good job. My expertise is in purchasing, using, and repairing digging implements [nearly 40 years in the nursery/landscape/garden business]. I look for solid shanks, forged steel, and flexible wooden handles. In addition, I use the right shape for a particular job
A square point shovel (above) is used for scooping loose soil, sand, or gravel off of a flat surface. A round point shovel is good for digging if the blade is relatively straight (below), but use one with a more angled blade for excavating, lifting, or moving soil.
Trenching shovels and scoop shovels are used less often but are labor saving when needed.
Snoop around or ask your gift recipient what they really want. Avoid purchasing stainless steel or brightly painted shovels, they are basically for show not work. Also avoid purchasing too large a shovel. Size the tool to the operator. A well made shovel is a joy for a lifetime.
This short handled English garden spade (and a matching fork) were gifts from Jim one Christmas about 25 years ago. The shorter handle and blade makes it ideal for using in raised beds or in tight quarters (ie. lets see if I can shoehorn just one more plant in this bed!)
In this photo Jim is holding our favorite shovels. Can you tell which one is mine? I had to paint the handle pink because it kept "wandering off" to Jim's job sites. Another gift from my favorite gardener, this one was for my 23rd birthday (you do the math!.)