I love giving gifts.
It really isn’t that I LOVE spending my money or hours shopping. Well, okay, that second part may be a lie. Realistically, there are many times of the year where I find gift-giving to be a groan—specifically when it feels obligatory. What I love about giving gifts, though, is the personal thought that goes into it.
“Courtesy gifts,” as I like to call the type of gifts that have no “character” and are more perfunctory than anything—while sometimes seeming necessary for that stranger you barely know—are by far NOT my favorite. When I choose a gift for someone, I want them to genuinely enjoy it.
Here is my #1 goal when deciding what to buy someone for a gift: MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T END UP AT THE BOTTOM OF A DRAWER.
Because who needs more clutter?!
Watching someone open a gift and witnessing a great reaction, whether that be shock (the good kind, of course!), tears, a huge smile, or a “Heck yeah, I’ve really been wanting this!” is an awesome feeling.
It is just as much a gift to yourself as it is to them.
But wanting to buy someone a memorable gift is the easy part. Executing it is more challenging.
Below I’m listing some strategies when it comes to buying the perfect gift for a select someone in your life. Hopefully, some of these tips and thoughts bring about new ideas for you and allow the fun of gift-giving to re-emerge in your life.
A calming reminder to everyone: you don’t need to buy people presents on every occasion. There are far too many to make that feasible, especially if you are on a tight budget or strict schedule—Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, special events like graduations, baby showers, wedding showers, etc.
If the person you are buying a gift for is someone who loves you and wants you to be happy, they won’t expect you to put yourself in a tight position just to buy them something. Gratitude is expressed in a multitude of other ways than through presents.
1. Keep a Running List Throughout the Year
This method has been the MOST useful for me. Time and time again it has proven to work.
You can make a running list on paper or on your phone. I find my phone to be easier (typical young adult nowadays) because I can update it more inconspicuously. Plus, paper is more often lost, and if you don’t carry a suitcase for a purse like I do—everyone’s words, not mine—you may not have it on you.
Basically, what you do is create lists for people in your life of items they may want. The best way to find out what they want is to be an observer. When you go walking around the mall with them, what items do they stop to point out?
“That’s cute!” they may say.
“Huh, I’ve never seen that. Cool.”
“I could really use this right now,” they say as they walk away from the item.
Maybe you are watching TV and a commercial pops up with a cool vacation they want to take, or an amusement park they want to go to. Maybe the radio announces an upcoming concert they would like to go to. Maybe, while just getting to know them, they talk about things they like and are passionate about.
Did someone say they LOVE cookie dough (who doesn’t?). Add that to the list!
My favorite thing about this idea is that, in most circumstances, the person will forget they ever even mentioned it. In fact, I would forget they mentioned it if I hadn’t jotted it down.
For example, that cookie dough one is real. Under one of my friend’s names, I have “cookie dough lol” written down, yet no recollection of them saying they like it. Buttttt, I trust that I had it right otherwise I wouldn’t have written it down!)
This way, you ensure it is something they actually like, as they verbally said they did at some point in time, and you still might manage to surprise them because time washed away the remembrance of it from their minds.