7 Simple Ways to Be a Better Gift Giver ...

If you dread Christmas shopping or your best friend’s birthday every year, you might be in need of some ways to be a better gift giver. While of course that old “it’s the thought that counts” adage still applies, these simple ways to be a better gift giver will have your friends and family members appreciating both the gift and the thought behind it.

1. Avoid Last Minute Shopping

Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays---these all fall on the same date every year. While you may not have unlimited funds, making the most of the available time to shop is one of the best ways to be a better gift giver. Impulsive purchases at zero hour on the holiday or special occasion rarely make the best gifts. With less time to look around in store or online, you’re likely to grab just about anything from the shelf. Shopping for gifts can take time, so don’t leave it to the last minute.

2. Stalk Pinterest

Aside from craft projects and recipes, Pinterest can be a valuable resource for a shopper looking for gift ideas. If your friend, family member, co-worker or significant other has a Pinterest board full of stuff that they love, you have a virtual wish list at your disposal. Clothing, accessories, home decor... it’s all just pinned and waiting for your purchase.

3. Make Mental Notes of What the Recipient Already Has

If you’re buying for someone you see regularly, you have a visual database of that person’s appearance, what they have and what they don’t. Clothing, purses, jewelry, perfume, cologne are just some of what you may notice. If you regularly visit the recipient’s home, you’ll also know if they have any collections, the color palate of their living area and other useful resources for creative gift inspiration. Mentally take these observations with you while gift shopping and your present will be just perfect.

4. Take a Risk

Sometimes when you’re browsing the many stores of your local shopping mall, you’ll see something unique; maybe a novelty item or an item so delightfully outlandish, that you just know so-and-so will appreciate. Even if the item isn’t entirely practical or expected, I say that you go ahead and pick it up. Chances are, that if you saw the item and immediately thought of a person to go with that item, they’ll appreciate it.

5. Pay Attention

Women are especially apt to dropping those subtle clues about what they like when window shopping with their friends. Be especially observant of brands she’s loyal to, colors she prefers and other notable shopping details. Sometimes, mere circumstance plays in your favor if the timing is right. Let’s say your boyfriend broke his favorite watch at the gym, or your mother just filled up another scrapbook. If it’s nearing a birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, an anniversary or other special occasion, knowing the needs and wants straight from the source will help you when it’s time to shop.

6. Eat, Drink and Be Merry

When facing a dinner party, a Secret Santa exchange or any gift giving occasion in which you have little knowledge of the recipients, food or drink is a surefire win. Exotic fruit bowls, fine bottles of wine, and imported cheese gift baskets, are some suggestions to consider. While these choices seem generic, they’re perfectly acceptable for a co-worker, neighbor or party host. And barring any food allergy, it’s a nice gesture and a tasty
one at that.

7. Avoid Gift Cards Whenever Possible

Gift cards are the slightly classier version of a greeting card stuffed with cash. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d be thankful for a Starbucks gift card any day of the week. And if someone were to hand me a cash-stuffed greeting card, I’d enjoy that too. But while gift cards are practical and allow the recipient to pick herself out something nice, wouldn’t the gesture be more meaningful if the gift giver took the time to pick out something special for the recipient instead? I dread giving gift cards because in the back of my mind I’m afraid that doing so simply says, “I give up. I had no idea what to get you. So here, take this gift card.”

Gift giving can be a really special experience. It’s an exercise in thought and emotion. It involves knowing a person’s style, interests, likes and dislikes. Good gift giving requires a few personal touches. And while your friends and family certainly appreciate your generosity, gifts that come from the heart will always mean the most. What’s the best gift you’ve given to someone special?

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