Gift-giving is hard. There are more ways to get it wrong than there are to get it right. Give a food gift like a decorative can of nuts, and you could be giving the gift of an allergic reaction, or worse.
Yet some people seem to have a knack for it. They always know just the right gift for every person for every occasion. It is almost like a superpower. To be sure, there are social skills and a high level of empathy at work. But there are also some very practical tips for buying gifts that almost anyone can learn.
The first thing you should do is free yourself from the pressure. It’s not all about you. So stop thinking about how the gift will make you look, and consider more about the recipient of the gift. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. The person you are gifting knows their dietary needs. And return receipts can make even the worst fashion choices go away.
Two tips are to avoid food gifts and clothes gifts. More helpfully, here are a few guideposts that will point you in the direction of the perfect gift much more often:
Gift Cards, for When You Really Don’t Have a Clue
Gift cards are the safest gift you can give besides cold hard cash. And what makes it slightly better is that cash really is a rather cold gift. Giving cash is like punting on third down. Gift cards are better because at least they point in a certain direction. You are giving a limited shopping spree at a specific store.
You can make it more special by giving a gift card to a store where the person does not normally shop. You are giving the gift of Macy’s, or the Apple Store, or Sacks Fifth Avenue. It may be a fancy restaurant.
The site www.cards2cash.com is one of the places the recipient can sell gift cards if is not something they can use. You might make the mistake of buying a gift card for a place that the recipient cannot easily access. You may know little about the person for who you are buying. A gift card is the safest bet and is always appreciated.
DIY, for When the Personal Touch Is Required
On the other end of the spectrum are the people you know all too well, perhaps even a domestic partner. This is a person you have been with for some time, and gifts have become way too predictable. This is the time for giving something rather more personal, so now is when you make a DIY gift for that extra special personal touch.
This also works for that person in your life who has everything. These are the toughest cases because they tend to buy what they want when they want it, leaving little room for anyone to surprise them.
But what they don’t have is the one of a kind gift that is made by hand and heart, and that comes directly from you. Even the person with everything will always find room for that special gift with the personal touch.
Something of Yours, for When They Really Need a Friend
The most personal gift is something that belongs to you and that has a special meaning. Perhaps it is a young adult having trouble getting through their freshman year of college. Give them that deck of cards you kept all this time. It is the deck you wore out playing 17 varieties of solitaire every night before bed. It kept you grounded. And it might do the same for them.
It doesn’t matter what the object is as long as it has a story and a human connection. Because when a person is in need of a friend, nothing can replace a gift of yourself. An object that is passed from person to person can serve as a talisman against loneliness and fear. You don’t buy that kind of gift at a store. And it will be cherished for a lifetime.
Gift cards, DIY gifts, and gifts of things that belong to you can all be the perfect gift depending on the person and the occasion. The fact that you wanted to give a gift is likely the greatest gift of all.