In addition to championship level cheese-eating and Thriller-dancing, I like to think that I’m a pretty good gift giver. 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 To Give Amazing Gifts
Listen + Pay Attention
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.
Shop 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?
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?
Don’t 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 backwards grandma a digital camera. It’s about giving them something that they want, something that will make them happy. So you best not be buying me a GHD or a rolling suitcase because they will gather dust and lead me to question our friendship.
Don’t Dismiss The Small Gift
For her 30th birthday, I gave my BFF a novelty eraser and $5. And she loved it! Really! But before you decide that you don’t ever want to be my friend, you should know that the eraser looked like a delete button (we’re both Internet obsessed) and the five dollars was
a) brand new from the bank
b) featured a home-made sticker
c) was a payoff on a long held bet/inside joke
And I’m pretty sure she was more touched by my $6 worth of presents than the various picture frames/gift cards/novelty socks that she got. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
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!
Do you consider yourself a good gift giver? If you are, tell us your best gift-giving tips so we can learn from you!
P.S. 23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self