As the holidays get nearer, we are often plagued with a long list of things to do. One of these things is gift-giving this holiday season. If you have a large family, have several close colleagues at work, or have a large social circle, you might be thinking about your gift list as early as the per months.
If you’ve always struggled with gift-giving, then this is the right place for you. With a few tips and tricks, you can become a Master gifter, an expert gift giver, and most importantly, a stress-free gifter that makes everyone around you happy this holiday season. So how do you do this? Let’s get straight to it, here are 7 simple ways you can get better at giving gifts.
How to Be a Better Gift Giver
1. Plan Ahead
Now is the perfect time to make that gift list. Start as early as possible to prevent impulse or last-minute purchases that are either too expensive or you end up buying something the recipient won’t like. Make a list of all the people you plan to give gifts to and create a budget. You can also create categories, such as family, friends, and colleagues, and assign a certain budget for each category. Once you have this list, it will be so much easier for you to plan your shopping trips.
2. Knowing the Person To Whom You Are Delivering the Gift
This is one of the most important things you need to do when buying gifts. What makes a good gift is when you show the receiver that they are seen or heard. For people who are close to you, listen to what they say, their complaints, their wants, and needs, as well as what they usually like on social media or simple things that they like on a day-to-day basis.
For example, your sister may say instant coffee is good but it would be so much better if she had a French Press at home. So what do you give her on her birthday? Why, a French Press, of course! When giving these kinds of things to your loved ones, it shows them that you were listening and that you thought about them when you decided to buy their perfect gift.
If you’re buying a gift for a person that comes from a different culture than yours, you need to know about their specific gift-giving culture:
For Muslims, for example, you should never give them wine, champagne, or any form of alcoholic drinks, since alcohol is “haram” in their culture, which is something they must avoid at all times.
For the Chinese, there are certain objects to avoid. These include scissors, knives, or a letter opener because these objects signify cutting something, such as severing your friendship. An alarm clock is also a no-no in Chinese culture because the word for “give clocks” is very similar to the phrase, “see off into death.”
3. Knowing When to Give Gifts
Knowing about the person is important in gift-giving, but knowing when to give gifts is also as important. Sure, Christmas and birthdays are a no-brainer, and so are Hallmark holidays like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. But are these the only moments you should be giving gifts to a loved one, a friend, or a colleague? The answer is no, there are other moments in one’s life when giving a gift is appropriate and thoughtful.
One of these moments is during life transitions. Is a friend resigning from work to finish her college degree? Yes, give a gift or flowers. Is a friend going through a divorce? Yes, give her wine or a chocolate cake. Do you have a new colleague at work you’re going to be working with? Give a welcome present.
Life transitions are major crossroads in people’s lives and what better way to help them make the transition easier than a thoughtful present that lets them know you’re thinking about them?
Other occasions that merit a gift include anniversaries, formal occasions (like a promotion at work), a retirement, graduation, a couple who purchased a new home, a friend who received news she’s cancer-free, and other important life moments that need celebration.
Certain religious holidays are also appropriate times for gift-giving. For Christians, it’s Christmas, and for Jews, it’s Hannukah. For Muslims, it’s the end of Ramadan.
4. Price is Not the Point
Whenever you receive a gift, there’s always an assumption that you should reciprocate and buy that person an equally expensive or even more expensive present. But this shouldn’t be the case. In most cases, people don’t give expensive presents and expect something of equal value in return. Giving gifts is about the meaning behind the gift.
If you received an expensive watch for your birthday, it doesn’t mean you need to return the favor by giving that person an expensive piece of jewelry on their birthday. Any gift is okay, as long as there’s meaning to it. For example, while you may have received that watch on your birthday, you can reciprocate the gesture by giving that person a cake you baked at home or a bouquet from your garden.
5. Gifting Experiences is Better Than Giving Material Items
Sometimes, you’ll have loved ones who can buy whatever they want. Or, they may already have everything they need. Or, they may want something that doesn’t involve material things, and so, giving presents to these people may be the biggest challenge you will ever face in your gift-giving journey. But don’t worry, the best thing you can give these loved ones is the gift of experience.
Do they like drinking wine? Then buy them a wine-tasting tour. Have they always wanted to try skydiving? Buy them a skydiving experience. Have they always wanted to travel to a different country? Give them an all-expense vacation. Sure, these are expensive “experience” gifts, but if you have the money, why not?
If you are tight on budget but still want to give the gift of experience, then a simple dinner for two at the recipient’s favorite restaurant will do. Other ideas include a gift certificate for a spa day or a haircut by a well-known stylist, or it can even be as practical as a free dental appointment.
Try to figure out what your loved one needs outside of material things. You might have given a friend an expensive bag on her birthday, but what she needed was a girls’ night out with friends she hasn’t seen for a while.
6. Presentation is Key
Avoid giving gifts that are not wrapped or presented in a nice way. If you purchased something from a store, take the time to wrap it and place a bow or ribbon around it for a nice presentation. In France, it’s considered distasteful to give a gift with a brand’s logo on it, and in Japan, it is customary to give a gift wrapped in beautiful paper or cloth.
Wrapping your gift means you took the time to make sure the receiver feels special and appreciated. Anyone can buy anything from a store and give it to someone, but it takes careful planning and time to wrap an object and present it as a beautiful gift for a loved one.
7. Don’t Make it a Burden
When you make your gift list, how does it make you feel? Do you feel pressured to include everyone you know? Does it feel heavy to include someone on your list and wrack your brain about what to buy for that person? And does giving gifts feel like a burden rather than something that comes from your heart?
If you said yes to any of the questions, then this is not the right mindset to become a better gift-giver. No matter how much money you spend, no matter how many gifts you give, if you feel like giving is a chore, then it defeats the purpose of giving in the first place.
If you don’t want to make your list and buy gifts right now, then don’t. Take some time to think about why you need to give gifts this holiday season or for any special occasion for that matter. Ask yourself what genuine gift-giving is and why you’re even doing it. Is it an obligation? Is it required? Even if it is, remove that thought of obligation and instead, think of gift-giving as spreading happiness.
Special days of the year become even more special when other people show that you are being seen, heard, and appreciated. While some people may show their affection in different ways, such as words of encouragement or acts of service, gift-giving is a love language on its own.
Sometimes, you may not always be there for someone, but a single flower, a single cupcake, and a single book can remind someone that you’re here, you care, and you think they’re special.
Things You Need to Avoid
There are also a few things you need to avoid. Here are some of them:
Smart gift giver avoid giving them something they already have. If they collect essential oils, they most likely have all the essential oils they need in their collection.
Smart gift giver avoid buying sale items. Sometimes, you may be tempted to buy something because it’s on sale, and not because your loved one will want or need it. Remember that price is never the point when giving gifts.
Smart gift giver avoid going over your budget. You may be tempted to buy your dad a real leather bag you think he’ll love, but if you can’t afford it, you might regret buying it at all. Always feel good when buying a present for your loved one.
Smart gift giver avoid impulse buys. If you forgot today is your friend’s birthday, it’s better to be late than sorry. If you buy a gift 30 minutes before your friend’s party, you might buy the first thing you see in a store. You can always buy him or her a present after, with a note apologizing for the delay.
To be a master gift-giver, you need to eliminate many misconceptions about gift-giving. The real purpose of giving gifts is to make them feel special and give them happiness, even for a short while.
It’s never about the price, and it’s never about the quantity, but it’s about the thought and effort you give into making sure you put a smile on the face of the people who are special to you, whether it’s your spouse, your family, co-workers, or loved ones.