Buying the Perfect Gift

by Miriam Zettlemoyer

Were you the thoughtful gift giver this past season?  Or did your holiday gifts flop?  Although appreciated, a gift card can be an impersonal gift to your family, friends, employees, or co-workers.  I always think a gift card makes a good add-on gift for the hard to buy but adding a personal item to the gift really gives the receiver the acknowledgment that you put some thought into the gift.  

I wasn’t always a good gift-giver, but today I find it a good challenge to understand who is surrounding me and what might I find out about someone I may be gifting.  Whether it’s holiday time or a birthday, I focus on figuring out what people like by taking a mental or sometimes written note on things they mention.  For instance, if you introduce someone to a new drink or food, they usually have something good or bad to say about the experience. They can offer additional input on what they prefer.  This could be a good way to start making a list of things they like or don’t.  Conversations with our friends and family should be an action we seek to have with each other to understand.  We aren’t always close to our gifts’ receiver, so what to do when it’s a co-worker or employee.  It can be easy to create a profile sheet for your employees.  Try asking about their family, kids, hobbies, and things they like to do. But be careful not to be too nosey as it can break some boundaries.  This can give you enough information or insight into a good gift, or even if a gift card would be for them.  Be careful not to assume everyone does the same things you enjoy, like drinking alcohol or going out to eat.  It can come across as insensitive if giving a gift to someone who is allergic, has health issues, or has religious reasons why they don’t drink or eat certain foods.  Obviously, you want the receiver to enjoy the gift and not find it in the regifting pile.

To make things easy on the one giving the gifts, sometimes I think of something throughout the year that has made my life easier, and I really enjoy having.  Chances are it’s a good gift for someone else as well.  You know the whole do unto others.  Ideas here can be a nice monogrammed item that adds a personal touch and shows you thought of more than just running down an aisle and grabbing the first item without thought.  Or a favorite restaurant that you frequent, and you think, how does this food taste so good everyone should eat it.  It can be a new item or idea that is only seen on your vacation or travels.  Not everyone gets to go see the things you see throughout the year.  This can be an added bonus in gift-giving when saving the item for their birthday or holiday.  This becomes a really meaningful gift showing that you thought of them while vacationing or traveling.  Bottom line, whatever you’re gifting and whenever you’re giving, it’s a process that should happen all year long.  Get to know the people in your life along your journey, not in the desperation of the last week before passing on the gift.  This will relieve the stress of figuring out what to get and making the receiver really enjoy and appreciate the gift.  The art of gift-giving is not a one size fits all.  We are all unique in our own ways. Finding out what each of us enjoys, loves, and wishes for can bring a sense of knowledge and understanding, making the gift-giving an easy task and not a challenge.  

If you think this goes over big with friends and family, think about doing the same for clients.  Depending on your business, you collect so much information about birthdays, kids, etc.  Something as simple as sending the happy couple an anniversary card, kid’s graduation, birthday cards, and so on.  If you send a card or note, take the time, and handwrite it and mail it.  In this time of electronic everything, emails and texts get overlooked, but the personal note goes a long way.  Whatever you do, do it with a grateful heart and receive it with an abundance of gratitude. 

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