Be the Best Giver You Can Be

Photo by VancityAllie

My list for gifts is, thankfully, still pretty short. Most of my friends are similarly broke so no gift exchange there and my family is pretty forgiving as I get myself ready for more school loans and expense. Despite not having a ton of people to buy for, I have been really excited to go out and buy gifts for the people I do have on my list. As much as I love shopping for things for myself, I love buying presents just as much (what can I say? I’m a born shopper). I just don’t understand everyone else’s stress and unhappiness as they get presents for the people in their life. To me, it’s a great challenge to find the perfect present and make them say, “Oh wow!” and so far, I’ve been pretty good at it. There are some basic tenets that anyone can follow to make sure that you give the best gift possible this holiday season.

Define your receiver. Everybody has things in their life that define them. I love to cook and travel and everything about art. Think really hard about the person you’re getting the present for. What makes them tick? What makes them from being just like everyone else you know? Get it down to five things you could define them by and look for something that would fit into that criteria. Say one of your friends loves turquoise; you might pick up some different turquoise jewelry items or pale blue cashmere gloves. Or you might have a guy friend who you know loves beers; try looking for something like these.

Don’t know ’em? Cozy up to someone who does. You might not know everyone on your list, especially if you have to shop for a significant other’s family too. Figure out who does know them pretty well and don’t be afraid to ask them what they think your giftee would like. Even if they don’t know exactly, they might be able to point you in the right direction. If you’re nervous about asking someone what to get someone else, just keep it simple: what are his/her interests? That’s easiest way to get the information you need to pick out a great gift.

Keep your eyes open throughout the year. I’m always surprised when everyone gets crazy in December and super stressed about buying all their gifts before the holiday. There are 364 days in the year that you can buy a present for Christmas; your shopping doesn’t have to fall in the short three weeks before the 25th. So while you’re out and about, taking a vacation, visiting museums, finding new kitschy boutiques, keep in mind those individuals you know will be on your list, i.e. immediate family members, best friends and your honey. This also eliminates the feeling that “oh I wish I had someone to get that for!”; get it and save it! It’ll be perfect when you finally give it. And the plus side of shopping this way is having a whole lot more time for holiday fun.

Take it one step outside the box. There might be the easy obvious gift: he loves movies so you buy him the collector’s edition of the Godfather or she likes the outdoors so you get her a giftcard to REI. Easy, easy, easy but are those really wow factor gifts? Think about simple ways you can amp it up one more step. A simple way to take what your receiver likes and make it better is to make it an experience. For the guy that loves movies: is there a cool film festival somewhere near you that you can buy tickets too? Or if your connections are even better, maybe you can get them to a movie premiere. Another great way to step out of the box is a handmade item like this interesting terrarium ornament on Etsy for the nature lover in your life or something from a small local artist. It’s nice too to support small business owners!

Really don’t know what to get? Keep it simple and fun. Sometimes you really don’t know what to get for someone on your list. Maybe it’s your boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend or your office secret santa. In that case, play it safe and keep it simple. Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, find an item that goes along with that. For Christmas, look for pretty ornaments or other decorations. Try to find something unique or handmade that they won’t find elsewhere. Antique glass ornaments can be pretty and different and look more expensive than they really are. You might also try a monogrammed item because who doesn’t want to see their initials or name on something? It can be anything from fluffy beach towels to a leather wallet. If you don’t know them, can’t find out more about them, then keep it simple but creative and you can’t go wrong.


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