How To Give Amazing Gifts

Want to give amazing gifts? Looking for gift giving advice? Not to brag but I'm a pretty great gift giver. All my 'secrets' are here!

In addition to championship level cheese-eating and Thriller-dancing, I like to think that I’m a pretty good gift giver. I am totally the friend who makes note of the salt and pepper shakers you liked so much at that restaurant, finds a pair and then gives them to you for your birthday three years later.

(And devotedly hopes that you remember that you liked them and aren’t kind of creeped out by my insane memory)

How To Give Amazing Gifts

Listen + Pay Attention

The truly awesome gift does not come off of Christmas Wish List. It’s the thing that your friend mentioned in passing several times or that you always see them fawning over when you’re out shopping.

It’s the sort of thing that they mention liking but can’t justify purchasing when there are bills to be paid and cars that need repairs. It’s the sort of thing that you know will bring them joy.

Shop Year Round

But I’m sure you already know this, right? Riiiiight? Waiting to shop until it’s holiday season is wicked stressful. Wading through seas of women in cat sweatshirts? Not how I want to spend my winter weekends. So if gift giving inspiration strikes you in August, buy the gift then, for Pete’s sake!

If you’re on a summer road trip and your friend is coveting some turquoise in New Mexico, buy the necklace and stash it till Christmas. Aren’t you the clever one?

Think Personal

Now, I’m not one to sneeze in the face of pillar candles or a basket of scented bath things, buuuuut I also wouldn’t shriek “Wow! You know me so well!” to the giver of these gifts.

Give the people in your life something that shows them you know who they are and what they’re about. An aerial map of a city where they used to live or an artist’s sketch of their childhood home. Or what about one of those custom-made photo albums that have the photos printed on the page? Or Indian cooking classes for your friend who spent a year in Mumbai? Or tickets to a reading with their favorite author?

Don’t Give Them Gifts That You’d Like

I know it’s incredibly tempting to give your lovely but fashion-challenged cousin a gift card to Forever 21. Or give your technologically backwards grandma a digital camera. Gift giving isn't about you and the life you think these people are missing. Click To Tweet It’s about giving them something that they want, something that will make them happy. So you best not be buying me a GHD or a rolling suitcase because they will gather dust and lead me to question our friendship.

Don’t Dismiss The Small Gift

For her 30th birthday, I gave my BFF a novelty eraser and $5. And she loved it! Really! But before you decide that you don’t ever want to be my friend, you should know that the eraser looked like a delete button (we’re both Internet obsessed) and the five dollars was
a) brand new from the bank
b) featured a home-made sticker
c) was a payoff on a long held bet/inside joke

And I’m pretty sure she was more touched by my $6 worth of presents than the various picture frames/gift cards/novelty socks that she got. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Consider The Gift of Non-Stuff

If you are attempting to give a gift to someone over the age of 26 who has a ‘real job,’ there’s a pretty good chance that if they want something? They just buy it. And really, who needs another decorative bowl/set of cuff links/DVD?

Non-stuff is more memorable and it doesn’t need dusting. Good non-stuff gifts include airplane tickets, gift certificates for spa services, a night at a Bed and Breakfast, classes or lessons, tickets to a sporting event or concert or donating to a cause that’s important to them. Added bonus: easy to wrap!

Do you consider yourself a good gift giver? If you are, tell us your best gift-giving tips so we can learn from you!

P.S. 23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self

photo by Jennifer Pallian // cc

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14 Comments

  1. Hammy

    Firstly, what's wrong with cat sweaters?!
    I think I'm alright as a gift giver, ususally I know what to get my close friends, its those awkward people you aren't particularly close to that are always difficult!

    Reply
  2. Darcie

    the delete button is still a total hit. sometimes i pretend to use it for real life. also, i still haven't spent my five dollars 😉

    Reply
  3. Sarah

    I keep a list of gifts year round and add to it every time someone says they like something. that way i don't have to freak out in december when i don't know what to buy anyone. and you're right, those gifts are way better to give and receive than something off a list.

    Reply
    • Kamina

      I do the exact same thing! I have a list in my phone and I add to it when I get a brilliant idea or when somebody mentions something. Then come Christmas/birthday time I can just consult the list.

      Reply
  4. Renee

    Ohhh my god that eraser is the perfect present for my boyfriend! He was inspired by the designer of the eraser to become a designer himself 😀

    Reply
  5. Jessika

    I think personal. And wrapping. When my nieces where smaller I made only wrapping paper stuff for them ;).
    I always follow the person closely. No use giving someone a lovely giftset of two candles if they are fire phobiacs, a) will never be used and most importantly b) didn't she (me) know I am afraid of fire?

    I make alot of diy-gifts so I take extra care in decorating and wrapping. In the gifts I do buy I make sure that they are very well suited for the recipient. this christmas my niece will get ear rings that look like small feather whips. We chatted a bit – she's miiiighty pleased about getting her ears pierced – she wants earings. So talked about what's pretty. Feathers are pretty she concluded. Dozed in glitter, silver glitter. pink feathers. So I made that for her. Hopefully she likes them.

    Reply
  6. Alexandra

    I agree!
    I love giving gifts! Especially unexpected ones, not necessarily around Xmas or birthdays.
    I once wrote a CD with the soundtrack from Amelie Poulain and gave it to one of my friends who's been telling me she loved that movie!
    I'm sure she could have bought the album herself, but it sure was a nice surprise and it made her day!

    Reply
  7. Hopscotch & Grace

    Great post Sarah! I think handmade gifts add a personal touch which is what I will be doing this Christmas, but I also like spoiling people with things they normally wouldn't buy for themselves (even those people with real jobs!). Like utterly luxurious moisturisers, candles and other pretty smelling things.

    Reply
  8. Jacque

    Really cute and helpful post! I loved the story about your best friend's birthday! I think that personal gifts are more meaningful! One of my friends bought me an expensive candle set for my last birthday. It was a nice present, but it just wasn't me. I love getting presents that really mean something to me! Last Christmas, my fiance surprised me with a handbag I had been mooning over for months! And I think I mentioned it once to him. It means so much when someone remembers something that you really want! Thanks for an awesome post!

    Reply
  9. jess

    the best advice ever is GIVE THEM SOMETHING THEY WANT, NOT WHAT YOU WANT!

    I'm pretty sure 95% of the boyfriends out there really need to take this into consideration!

    On that note, this year I'm trying to make all my presents or buy people handmade presents off of Etsy…I don't think everyone will appreciate my effort, but it makes me feel better (o:

    Reply
  10. Michele

    You've so many great pointers for gift giving. Your shop year round is the best idea. This leaves time at the holidays to rest and enjoy the spirit of the holidays.
    Christmas Gift Baskets

    Reply
  11. ghdhair

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  12. ghdhair

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