In addition to championship level cheese-eating and Thriller-dancing, I like to think that I know how to give great gifts.
I am totally the friend who makes note of the salt and pepper shakers you liked so much at that restaurant, finds a pair and then gives them to you for your birthday three years later. (And devotedly hopes that you remember that you liked them and aren’t kind of creeped out by my insane memory)
How do you give great gifts?
You give amazing gifts by listening
The truly awesome gift does not come off of Christmas Wish List. It’s the thing that your friend mentioned in passing several times or that you always see them fawning over when you’re out shopping. It’s the sort of thing that they mention liking but can’t justify purchasing when there are bills to be paid and cars that need repairs. It’s the sort of thing that you know will bring them joy.
You buy awesome gifts by shopping year round
But I’m sure you already know this, right? Riiiiight? Waiting to shop until it’s holiday season is wicked stressful. Wading through seas of women in cat sweatshirts? Not how I want to spend my winter weekends.
So if gift giving inspiration strikes you in August, buy the gift then, for Pete’s sake! If you’re on a summer road trip and your friend is coveting some turquoise in New Mexico, buy the necklace and stash it till Christmas. Aren’t you the clever one?
You get personal
Now, I’m not one to sneeze in the face of pillar candles or a basket of scented bath things, buuuuut I also wouldn’t shriek “Wow! You know me so well!” to the giver of these gifts. Give the people in your life something that shows them you know who they are and what they’re about – an aerial map of a city where they used to live or an artist’s sketch of their childhood home.
Or what about one of those custom-made photo albums that have the photos printed on the page? Or Indian cooking classes for your friend who spent a year in Mumbai? Or tickets to a reading with their favorite author?
You resist the urge to give them gifts that you’d like
I know it’s incredibly tempting to give your lovely but fashion-challenged cousin a gift card to Forever 21. Or give your technologically backward grandma a digital camera.
But gift giving isn’t about you and the life you think these people are missing. It’s about giving them something that they want, something that will make them happy. So you best not be buying me a hair straightener or a Williams Sonoma gift card because they will gather dust and lead me to question our friendship.
You give wonderful gifts by embracing the power of the small gift
c) was a payoff on a long held bet/inside joke.
You consider the gift of non-stuff
If you are attempting to give a gift to someone over the age of 26 who has a ‘real job,’ there’s a pretty good chance that if they want something? They just buy it. And really, who needs another decorative bowl/set of cuff links/DVD?
Non-stuff is more memorable and it doesn’t need dusting. Good non-stuff gifts include airplane tickets, gift certificates for spa services, a night at a Bed and Breakfast, classes or lessons, tickets to a sporting event or concert or donating to a cause that’s important to them. Added bonus: easy to wrap!
If you don’t know what to get someone, ask their best friend
If you’re an aunt or parent or spouse and you truly have no idea what to get someone for the holidays, just ask their best friend. More likely than not, the BFF knows what your niece/girlfriend/wife has had her eye on! And then you can buy it and delight her with your thoughtfulness!
Now I want to hear from you! What’s your best gift-giving tip?