Every time I start to think that knitted gifts aren't all that cool, I do a bit of shopping and am surprised at how many beautiful items are featured in the stores during the holiday season.
These hand-knit fair isle gift hats are really cute:
If you read the article, you'll see how very long these took to knit. But we're machine knitters, right? One option would be to machine knit most of the hat (and save lots of time), and then take it off and hand knit the shaped crown. Why not learn to shape a crown with the garter bar? Check out how it's done in the golf club cover videos:
This all works best if you can sew a really nice mattress stitch seam. Or, you can make seamless hats with the self-patterning "fair isle" yarn, providing you have a ribbing attachment. See the Tom's Troop Cap videos: