Ah, the holidays.
It’s that time of the year to witness heartwarming fist fights over the last of this year’s big item and the crushing of checking accounts everywhere to the tune of swipe after swipe in the name of holiday cheer.
People participate in gift giving in all sorts of ways, though the masters of gifting don’t rely on big ticket items to make an impression. Gift giving is more of an art.
I happen to know one of the best gift givers on a planet. I’ve seen her have birthday and Christmas gifts purchased and wrapped months before needing to be. I’ve seen her throw together a customized wedding present for a friend who got married on a whim. Over the past couple years of knowing her, I’ve learned a thing or two or eight.
Here are eight tips to being a better gift giver I’ve learned :
1) Start early
Coming from a life-long procrastinator here, I’ve known many Christmas gift exchanges where I’ve simply given everybody on my list a gift card in an envelope and called it a day. Sure, gift cards can be nice, but they are NOTHING like getting a gift that has meaning behind it.
Start shopping well before you need to so you have plenty of time to search multiple places for the perfect gift.
It also leaves more time for brainstorming gift ideas.
2) Make a list all year round
We already know the people who we’ll buy gifts for; our close friends, significant others, and family members.
Since we know this ahead of time, we can make a list of all their names. When you are out and about, and something pops into your head or they mention something they want, write down the idea on the list to save for later. Then, when the time for buying gifts comes around, it makes shopping much easier.
Bonus: Buy the gift ahead of time and put it in storage until the time comes to give it away! Just be sure to mark it down on your list so you don’t forget you have it.
3) Search around for the best price
One huge advantage of both starting early and making a list year round, is you can search multiple places to get the lowest cost for the items on the gift list.
Utilize online retailers like Amazon to get items cheaper than a retail store, and use websites like Slickdeals and browser extensions like InvisibleHand that will let you know when an item on your list drops in price or goes on sale.
When you spend less per item, you can then give even more for the same budget.
4) When feeling stuck, focus on hobbies
If you’re having trouble determining what someone may like, try to picture the routine they do everyday and the hobbies they have.
It’s easy to ask someone what they do for fun, or what they did over the past few weekends, to get an idea of things they enjoy.
When you write down these activities, you may find it easier to think of a gift to go along with things they already do.
5) Wrap it well
It’s no surprise jewelry stores package their items nicely after purchasing, and companies like Apple spend a lot of money on high quality packaging to increase anticipation when opening a product.
For your gift to have a greater impact, spend extra time on the presentation or consider getting it professionally wrapped.
A nicer presentation implies higher quality contents. Spend a little extra time on the first impression they have of their gift.
6) Include a Card
Want to make the gift extra special? Include a card with the gift, and actually write something in it.
Sure, the words already written in the card are probably nice, but no words on a store-bought card will mean as much as the things YOU have to say. This is especially true when you include how much they mean to you and why you picked out the gift especially for them.
Not much of a writer? That’s okay.
There doesn’t have to be a novel inside, though some length can show you put a lot of time into writing the words. A few meaningful sentences is much better than just a signed name.
7) You don’t always have to buy a gift
Some of the best gifts I’ve received have been personally created with me in mind.
Something that couldn’t be purchased in a store.
Something they put a lot of time into, which made me feel very special for receiving such a gift.
Though, this isn’t second grade where a poorly-glued popsicle stick sculpture will cut it. If you’re going to go the route of making a gift, make sure it isn’t a half-hearted effort.
8) Don’t just give gifts when you “need” to give them
Of course, people enjoy getting gifts during holidays and birthdays, but sometimes the best gifts come when people don’t expect them.
You don’t have to wait for a certain time to come around to make someone’s day.
And don’t underestimate the power of a small surprise. Just showing someone you were thinking about them can make their day.
We Can’t do it all
We all can’t be gift giving gurus, but we can take any gift giving opportunity and make it better by using the tips above.