Giving the ultimate gift — for some — is an art form and a love language. For some of us, it can feel like a chore we’re purposefully procrastinating until the last minute possible.
Many gift-giving guides tend to offer generic gifts, like, “Don’t know what to get? Buy a candle, a box of chocolates from the convenience store, or a gift card to their favorite restaurant”. Don’t take it personally if you have ever gifted (or been the recipient of these gifts), but where are the personality and utility?
For many gift recipients, a thoughtful gift is invaluable and well cherished. And as a gift-giver, there’s nothing better than seeing your loved one’s eyes light up knowing that you’ve chosen just the right thing.
If you’re struggling to find the right thing for everyone on your list — whether it be moving fits or holiday gifts — rest assured that gift-giving can be mastered even by us laymen. And without spending a fortune. Read on to learn how to choose the right gift every time — no matter the occasion.
1. Put Yourself In Their Shoes
If we are going to start somewhere, let’s start with who we are buying the gift for. Is it a Newlywed couple gift, a birthday present for your sister, or a welcome gift for a new neighbor? The details matter.
Before you start shopping, start by thinking about your gift recipient-to-be. Consider their lifestyle choices; how do they spend their money, where do they frequent, and what are their interests? These are great indicators for you on how to give a useful gift. If you don’t know your giftee well, there are other ways to keep it personal. In the case of a new neighbor, consider gifting them something from a local shop or a gift card to the local coffee spot you frequent.
2. Keep it Simple
It’s hard to not associate the value of our relationships with the value of the gift we give. As the gift giver, we want to impress. In most cases, that means the more money spent, the more of a wow factor. Pretty selfish of us, right?
Let’s turn it around. What do we hope for when receiving a gift? Naturally, we want it to be useful. Hopefully, it is something we asked for (or even hinted at).
If you want to nail a gift, keep it simple and functional. Is your best friend a health nut? Gift them a free trial to a new Pilates studio in town that they have been dying to try. Is your co-worker a closet sommelier? Go to your local wine shop and find them a great bottle of red. Does your best friend love the look of plants but is sorely lacking a green thumb? Maybe a nice faux plant is up her alley. For your fellow bookworm? Consider a nice bookcase to stow their overflowing — and ever-growing — novel collection. These are the type of gifts that keep on giving after the initial exchange. And, they remind the people that are close to you that you are listening and care about their interests.
3. Gift an Experience
Remember how you spent days leading up to an elementary school field trip in a state of excited anticipation? Experiences bring us a sort of long-term happiness in their anticipation, even before we start forming and experiencing all of the little memories that come with them.
From the minimalist in your life to the person who has everything and then some, a material gift seems like a drag. The personalization that comes with an experiential gift is perfect for those whom we just don’t know what to get. And, an experiential gift (whether tickets to a sports game, movie, concert — or spa day) can be an outlet to participate in as a bonding moment in our relationships with them if you join in.
4. Stay on a Strict Budget
The average spent on Christmas each year by Americans rounds up to about $1,000. Given the cost of living is rising, that is a tough number to look at. For everyone budgeting, it’s important to remember that money truly doesn’t buy happiness (or guarantee your gift will be appreciated)!
During the holidays, handmade gifts for friends and family are the most budget-friendly gifts you can come by. Do you have the most sought-after gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe in your friend group? Bake some cookies and package them with homemade gift wrap on trays you can find at the thrift store. Do you love knitting? Why not share your talent and knit a piece for your family member who lives in chilly New England? A personalized DIY gift is a beautiful and sustainable way to say this was made for you and especially for you.
5. Sometimes Necessities Are Best
Not all gifts need to be over the top or fancy. Sometimes necessary gifts are the most appreciated (and cherished). A comfortable ergonomic desk chair is a perfect gift for your partner with back pain who works from home, while an ottoman might be exactly what your friend’s missing in their living room for their Netflix binges. Is your mom always cold? Why not warm up her space with an area rug and fuzzy slippers?
That newlywed couple we mentioned earlier? Maybe they’ve just moved across the country into a new house. Or, you could be shopping for a college student or recent grad settling into their first apartment. Either way, moving into a new place, especially during the holidays, can feel daunting — or sad if friends and family are far away. For these giftees just starting out, a hand-picked item for their home will be much appreciated.
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