Now that Thanksgiving is behind us (and what a delicious time it was), holiday gift giving is at the forefront of my mind. Some people are naturally skilled in the art of giving gifts… Our mama is the first person who comes to mind when I think about someone who is just awesome at picking out the perfect presents – whether it’s for someone’s birthday, Christmas, or just a simple hostess gift, she always nails it. No gift cards or money… Just thoughtful and unique presents that always well used and adored. Gift guides are taking over the blogsphere right now (and we are guilty for jumping on board and will posting one for you all each day this week) – but there are a few tips I’ve picked up from my mama when it comes to giving presents that go above and beyond…
Tip No. 1: Listen and take notes. It sounds obvious to take note throughout the year on what would be good presents for certain people, but how many of us can say that we do it? Most people don’t realize it, but they drop hints on a daily basis that give clues that can help you when you’re out shopping for them. Simple statements like, “I have been dying for a subscription to Real Simple,” or, “I really need a new casual watch,” might seem like nothing when they say it but will provide you with a starting point for things they might want/need. Nothing beats seeing a person’s face light up when they open something they have been wanting… They will be shocked and happy that you remembered
Tip No. 2: Observe and take notes. If your friend/sister/significant other is quiet about sharing what they like on a daily basis you can still pick up on noticing subtle things… If your boyfriend loves waffles and orders them ever time you go out for brunch, maybe a waffle maker and a box of delicious mix would be a great gift. If you sister recently lost her favorite pair of stud earrings you could try to replace them for her. Dad loves to grill? Get him one of these cool hats that let him see what he’s doing even when it’s dark. They will be surprised that you knew exactly what they needed/wanting without them having to tell you! The trick is to write these genius ideas down before you forget them – I keep all my notes in an Archie notebook I always have with me.
Tip No. 3: Know the person and think about form vs. function. This is my designery side coming into play… Form = think these measuring cups. They are adorable and a fun thing to have if you love details, cooking, etc. Function = think these measuring cups. They are simple but classic and more about “getting the job done” than looking good while doing it. The way I see it, some people appreciate the form, and some people appreciate the function – know your person and their taste to pick the items they’ll appreciate most. If your bestie asks for a jewelry box, you need to know her taste to choose between this one or this one. If your brother loves to read but uses a kindle you shouldn’t get him the deluxe printed collection of Harry Potter. Again, it sounds like a no-brainer but we’ve all been there when opening a gift and thinking, “why this __ when they know I love that.”
Tip No. 4: Need vs. want. This is different than form vs. function. I need new running shoes but I don’t necessarily want to buy them for myself. Which is why if I get running shoes on Christmas morning, I will be psyched. If your best friend loves to cook but has been using hand-me-down knives from her parents, why not get her two brand new ones? She will love that you got her something she needed (and probably) wanted and double bonus, she will think of you when she uses them!
Tip No. 5: Sentimental and thoughtful touches. Some of my favorite gifts aren’t favorites because of what they are, but because of what the represent or a memory they tie back to. For example, if your dad and brother love to golf and dream of playing the best courses in the world, why not gift them both this book with a note, “until you make the trips, you can get to know the courses this way…” It will be a cool way for them to display their passion for golf and be a continual conversation piece for the two of them. One of my favorite gifts from my mama is the ring she gave me for graduation, and wrapped in her grandmother’s handkerchief. It was special that she was trusting me with a family heirloom and one of my first nice pieces of jewelry. Most parents and family members treasure family photos but never find time to print them – solve the problem by creating a priceless photobook with all the images from the past year.
Tip No. 6: Don’t think about yourself. My biggest problem this time of year is forgetting about myself (and what I like) and focusing on finding the perfect gifts for others. It’s not always easy to spend time, money, and effort on others when you’re bombarded by things that you want yourself. I like to set budgets for each person on my list and begin my search with all my notes and clues in mind. I keep a little list of options and finally decide on one or a few things that fit the budget for that one person. When you put a cap on what you know you can spend, it can help you for “accidently” getting things for yourself while you’re shopping for the people on your list!
Tip No. 7: Wrap it. Even if you are horrible at wrapping things yourself, getting a hand-wrapped gift is like getting a hand-written note – it just shows that you went the extra mile. And as a courtesy, include a gift receipt… Just in case you bombed tips 1-5 they would rather have something else.
Only four weeks (right?) till crunch time… Let’s all get going on finding those perfect gifts!