Are you saying THEY are knitters and you want to get a gift for them as new knitters? Or, are you, as a new knitter, wanting to make them gifts? If it's A, all knitters need yarn and needles of various kinds. It its B, I suggest hats. They are easy, and fun to do. Don't be intimidated by a 16" circular, it is not hard to use, then use dpns or another circular to add to the first to finish off. DPNs are not that bad, you only use two at a time. :-) Circular hats are easier in the long run. No seam. But seaming isn't bad either. A hat was my DH's first project.
Scarves are easy and fun... When all I knew was how to knit garter stitch, I made lots of great scarves. There are amazing yarns out there...soft, cozy, colorful. You don't have to do elaborate stitch witchery to make great scarves. There are feminine yarns and also masculine yarns. You can also get fancy and add fringe without adding too much skill.
London's chilly. Scarves are easy and good. They'll go way faster than your afghan, too.