Thanksgiving has come and gone and now it’s the time of year devoted to Christmas, when millions of people will be searching for the perfect gifts for their family and friends. How can you make sure your gift won’t be tossed in the back of the closet (or worse, regifted) as soon as you leave?
Here are a few tips that will help you be an awesome gift giver:
• Pay attention – all year. Almost inevitably, your friends and family will mention a favorite wine, or kind of chocolate, or the fact that they can’t get enough of that mandarin orange-scented lotion they have to order off the internet. If you have a memory like Swiss cheese, stick a small notebook in your car or purse, or start a list on your phone, that will let you take notes to make shopping easy.
• Don’t wait until the last minute. When you’re under pressure, buying a gift within a short window puts you straight into “that’s a great gift because it’s still on the shelf and in my price range” mode. Avoid that place. In fact, if you can shop all year, it’s easier on the budget and your nerves. Just make sure you have a good hiding spot!
• Make a phone call to someone even closer to your friend or loved one than you are. A spouse might have an idea of something to buy, or a sister might be able to offer an idea like, “She was just complaining the other day that she never gets to go to the movies.” And a movie ticket gift box, complete with candy and popcorn, is born.
• Check out the handmade sites online, like Etsy. Not only are gifts from these sites supporting artists and small businesses, they’re amazing because they offer ingenious ideas you probably never thought about. If your friend loves something even as wacky as sweet potatoes, you can search and find sweet potato pie candles or sweet potato chips. Input your loved one’s favorite things — marshmallows, Paris, funky necklaces — and you’ll have a terrific list of unique gift ideas.
• Something handmade by you shows you put a lot of effort into the gift. You don’t have to be crafty, either. You can write a heartfelt letter tucked into a perfect card that will be guaranteed to touch your loved one’s heart. Even a batch of favorite fudge or a pan of brownies can be a perfect gift.
• And speaking of cards, always include a card with your gift. Take these special moments that we carve out of the holidays and let your love show in a way that can be kept, treasured, read and re-read. I have cards stashed in a box that remind me of people and times in my life that I love to revisit.
• Think in terms of experiences, rather than gifts. How about a day at the paintball range for a group of friends? Find a nearby tea shop that will be a treat for a friend dreaming of visiting England. Maybe a favorite musician is having a concert soon. Time is a precious commodity, and scheduling a day to spend together, shopping, eating and laughing can be a great gift.
And our No. 1 tip for being a great gift-giver?
• Remember the gift is for THEM. What will they love? Don’t just assume that because you like it, they will too. Really take the time to use the tips above to make it special for them.
Happy gift hunting. See you in the crowds.
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