As I've said before, I just opened a new Ravelry shop, and I currently have... 2 patterns! My newest one is a slouchy hat. I did this 'photo shoot' on Christmas day, which was fun. I may have mentioned before that I knit this for my sister's Christmas present. I knit it with 2 strands of worsted weight yarn held together in a teal color with cheapy Red Heart Super Savers. I don't really like it, as it's scratchy and stiff, but I'm not willing to spend a ton on something amazing like...mmm...Malabrigo? I don't know; I use mostly yarn you find in a craft store. However, after blocking and washing it'll loosen up.
This is the perfect project for a beginner, as it's super duper easy. It's knit with big needles and super bulky yarn, or two strands of worsted weight held together. It can be knit in the round, too, for an even quicker knit. You could start in the morning, finish by noon, and wrap it up for your friend's birthday present in the evening. Well, I don't know if I could go that fast, but... maybe you could? I'd use a more quality yarn, however, like Wool-Ease Thick & Quick (yes, to me that's extremely good quality). It's super long so if you're not 'digging' the slouchy look, you can fold up the brim for a beanie.
Yes, I know, I look creepy from the side with my nerd glasses on like that... like some creeper... but I promise you, I'm smiling.