It’s gift-giving season and, once again, you keep pushing that hard-to-buy-for person further down your shopping list. No need to stress about it. Use these simple tips to become gifted in the art of giving.
The trick to successful gift giving is in learning to listen to or observe the lifestyle, preferences and temperament of your gift recipient. Giving gifts that reflect a person’s life shows thoughtfulness which, in turn, gives more meaning to the gift.
Even if you are buying for someone you don’t know well, like distant relatives or casual acquaintances, gifts of time, services, or pleasant experiences never go out of style.
Here are some simple guidelines for foolproof gifting that’s sure to please both the giver and receiver.
Give as Good as You Get
Is your friend or brother-in-law a baker or cook? Does he give out canned jams and jellies every year? Buy him a new set of canning supplies. Or, give him a utensil that’s far more money than he would ever spend on himself yet is still within your budget.
Taking cues from what a person gives to you throughout the year, or what interests they have, gives you a good idea about what they would like to receive.
Match Their Style, Not Yours
Does your friend live in cutoff jeans and tie-dye shirts? Don’t try to dress her up with a fancy cocktail dress. Cater to her sense of comfort. Buy her a vintage handbag or fuzzy slipper socks, or spring for concert tickets for her favorite band.
Enhance But Don’t Replace
Buying clothes or jewelry for anyone but yourself is always a risky deal. Look closely at the person you want to buy for before purchasing those beautiful new dangling earrings or modern beaded bracelet.
Do some of your friends wear the same pair of stud earrings or necklace or watch every day? If so, odds are very high those jewelry pieces or accessories are their favorites and they are not likely to replace them, no matter how beautifully you’ve selected. A new jewelry box or earring tree, or even a jewelry cleaning kit is a safer bet.
Bosses, Co-Workers and Relative Strangers
When you are buying for a boss or co-worker take your clues from their occupation or the items in their workspace. Is your boss traveling often? Consider giving him something that makes life away from home easier or more entertaining such as luggage accessories, magazines, maps, music, e-reader books, or even a gift certificate to his favorite airport restaurant.
Think Local for Long Distance
For distant relatives and friends in far away places, send them something that’s rare in their part of the world or shares something of your hometown.
Most states have “Made In” retail shops that feature goods unique to their specific state. Your landlocked friends and family might love a box of salmon from the Pacific Coast or jars of Vermont syrup.
If you’re still stumped, gift cards, subscriptions and memberships or tickets to events you know they are interested in are safe bets. Just be sure to include a personal note with the gift.
The more important thing to remember about holiday giving is to keep it joyful. Gift exchanges are also energy exchanges. When you put good energy into giving, the person receiving feels that good energy.
You can take away the ‘stress of the guess’ by letting the occasion be a happy excuse to learn about other people’s lives and form deeper relationships. Instead of burdening friends and family by asking them to tell you what the person on your gift list wants, ask them to tell you more than you already know about that friend or relative.
Questions such as what age your cousin’s granddaughter is now; where she’s going to school, what are her interests or what’s her favorite color, for example, will not only spark your imagination but will have given you and your cousin something new to talk about.