As always, gift receipts are always a good idea and very much appreciated, just in case the recipient already has the item.
1) Books! Anna definitely has her favorite books but man is it nice having some new reading material!! Anna got some of the most adorable books to add to her collection and she loves them. Itsy Bitsy Spider actually accompanied us to the pediatrician the other day because she refused to put it down, haha. She is also currently loving the touch-and-feel books, and any books that have a little puppet attached to it. Large board books are perfect for this age - Anna loves being able to help turn the pages!
3) Nesting Toys! Okay, I'm not gonna lie - you could literally go pick up ANY toy at the store and the kid is going to love it. Just make sure it's age-appropriate...you don't want to go more than one step ahead of the kid's age, otherwise it's a burden on the parents to have to store the toy and remember it's there later!! But, that being said, Anna loves any kind of stacking or nesting toy, or any kind of basket. She loves to put stuff into, and take stuff out of. How's that for some grammar? lol. Stacking is good too though - blocks are always a super simple, but super fun idea.
Also a side note on toys in general - if you purchase a toy that doesn't already come with batteries, you get extra bonus points if you toss in the appropriate pack!
4) Experiences. This one you're probably going to have to check with the parents to make sure they don't already have it, but if you're wanting to spend a little bit more, or if it's a group gift, it would be a great idea to get family annual passes to a local zoo, aquarium, children's museum, etc. We have already gotten our money's worth out of our zoo and aquarium passes, and Anna is a great age to start really enjoying this stuff!
5) Photography Session. This might be another big ticket item, but you could also get pretty thrifty with it if you plan ahead of time. Daily deal emails like Groupon or LivingSocial often have photographers offering deals...you definitely want to check out their websites before you buy - I always see a wide variety of experience levels and talent, but if you find one that can deliver good pictures, you can find a great deal. Or even some of the chain portrait studios can get a cute family picture captured - a gift certificate would be perfect, especially in time for the holidays!
6) Clothes. Make sure what you pick out is season-appropriate for the size you are buying. It's always a little sad when you get something that's unbelievably cute, but you know it will never fit once it's time to wear it!! Gift receipts are a good idea here too, especially if you aren't totally confident with what size you are buying. I always think it's a good idea to buy for one season ahead, since usually a momma is pretty well stocked for a current season, unless it's just starting.
Hope this helps, and happy birthday, baby!