Magazines and websites abound in advice on how to choose the right gift. Step-by-step decision-making processes, gift lists, good planning — all these are quite effective procedures. Still, there are times when nothing seems to help and you are completely clueless as to what gift to give. You spend days trying to figure out what to choose, until you realize you’ve run out of time. Most of the times, you end up grabbing the first decent thing you find, even if you know the recipient won’t be overwhelmed.
Perhaps the problem has its roots in the way we have come to conceive the process of choosing a gift. Somehow, we associate it with the idea of surprise: the recipient must not suspect for a minute what the gift might be; then, as they unwrap it, they will be speechless at the sight of the present they could never have guessed. This can sometimes work out perfectly, but let’s not forget that not all surprises are pleasant. What if you somehow buy a wrong gift?
Let’s be reasonable: the surprise element might be a nice add-on to the gift, but it’s ultimately the gift itself that people will love or hate. So why not focus on the gift, even to the detriment of the unexpected? Is it so bad if the recipient can anticipate the present? After all, anticipation can be a pleasant emotion too. It is never wrong to ask, candidly, what the other person wants. This approach will narrow down your choices and, even if you can’t find exactly what they want, you can look for something related to it.
To reconcile the two approaches, you can ask the relevant questions a long time before you have to give the present, in a way that will not let the recipient suspect that you’re preparing a mental gift list. That way, they may forget about the question by the time they get the present, so you can still surprise them.
Too Many Gifts? Make a List
Buying gifts is every shopper’s nightmare, especially when there are a lot of gifts to buy. It’s challenging enough to find a good present for one person, but when you have to find something for several people, things can really get complicated.
Remember your old Christmas wish lists? This clever invention meant to assist parents in choosing the right Christmas presents for their children can also be of great help to you, when you have to buy a gift. Only this time, since you’re not a child anymore, you’ll have to draw up the list yourself.
How does it work? It’s easy. Assuming you know the gift recipients pretty well, you should be able to come up with a list of things they would like to get. Think of past conversations you had with them, visualize details of their homes and try to figure out what could complement their room design, or review their hobbies and identify a few things they could use. If you have around three choices for each person in your list, you won’t have to worry about any item being unavailable.
One thing, though: make sure you don’t come up with the same gift for two people, especially if they know each other and they might compare gifts sometime. If you are sure there’s no way they could ever discover your inclination towards gift symmetry, you can try it as a last resort.
Keeping old lists can be handy as well. On the one hand, you don’t risk buying people the same thing you gave them a few years before; on the other hand, reviewing the lists may help you get new ideas as to what new presents to look for.
Now you know how you can improve your gift-shopping skills. Remember, it’s all about planning.
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