How to Become a Better Gift Giver

The key to the perfect gift is to show the receiver that you have given their present your time and thought. 

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.

Gifting can be a way of showing you care about someone, or reflecting the care someone has shown you. There’s never a particularly inappropriate time to do it.

The key to the perfect gift is to show the receiver that you have given their present your time and thought.

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.

What’s their passion?

If you’re buying a present for someone else than your nearest and dearest ones, think about the likes and dislikes of the person you're buying a gift for. Observe an interest, spot a need, check out what they do for fun.

What does your recipient do in off hours? Are they a wine enthusiast or keen on their gadgetry? For instance, if they love to travel, consider a travel accessory. If they love to cook, consider a professional-level cooking implement or perhaps a particularly fine olive oil or sea salt.

Even the most no-nonsense, frugal people have a few luxuries they like to indulge in--or dream of indulging in. What does your gift recipient collect coupons for? Fantasize about? Browse over in catalogs? Those are all clues to the perfect present. Also, experts remark, pay attention to the things they buy for themselves.

Do a little research

Think about the things the gift recipient might need at the moment or in the nearest future. Did they just move, adopt a pet or book an adventurous vacation? Gifting can be an opportunity to riff on the ways they’ve already spent their own money.

When someone says they want something, listen. There’s nothing quite like finally getting the thing you’ve been hinting at for months. Consider out the gifts they give others.

The presents people choose for their friends, family, and co-workers provide insight into their own hearts' desires. When it comes to presents, most people truly do unto others as they would have others do unto them. So take careful note of the presents your recipient has given as an indicator of what they want.

Make it useful

Before you give someone a gift ask yourself, “If someone was giving this to me would I reuse it?” If the answer is yes, there's a good chance it's a useful gift. Just make sure that it meets their personal needs. Find something they will love, even if they don't know it yet.

You don't want to give a gift that will sit in the corner forever. If it's only good enough for one-time use, there's no real purpose there. Avoid giving gifts that have the potential to be re-gifted.

A gift should be useful. When you give a gift to someone it has to be something that they will use over and over again. Which basically means, a gift should be of good quality. You want it to be something that will last. This is different from being functional. If it's high quality, it won't break.

Purchase something that they probably wouldn't buy on their own because it is a little luxurious, but not overly expensive. It says “Hey I'm thinking about you and I want you to have the best quality.”
Respect their style

While you're using your powers of observation, please don't forget to make careful note of what colors and styles your recipient favors for clothing, jewelry, accessories, and decor.

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.

But don’t forget to remind yourself that the gift isn't for YOU.

Do you think decorative lawn silhouettes are tacky? To hell with what you think! Aunt Millicent loves those godforsaken things, and you're supposed to be thinking about what SHE would want to get. Always focus on the recipient's wants, needs, and wishes (not your own) and buy the peeing boy's shadow for your aunt's yard.

Give enjoyable time

When it comes down to it the most important thing to do is to pay attention to the needs of your loved ones. This makes giving them gifts abundantly easier.

Some people don’t want anything. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want anything. They just don’t want stuff.

If you're really stumped on what to buy someone, consider offering them an experience instead of an object that'll take up space in their lives. Is there something the person might appreciate more than a physical object?

Don't limit yourself to physical things when present shopping. Consider the non-gift gift. Experiences and perishables can be just as, and sometimes more, gratifying than a thing you have to keep forever, lest you insult an in-law.

Give an experience instead of an object. If you're close to that person, make it something you can enjoy with them. You could bring someone to a concert or play, take them out to a new restaurant they've been dying to eat at or pledge to go with them to a nude beach they've been too scared to visit alone.

A gift certificate for a nice dinner out, a spa treatment, an outing, or another fun excursion can make a wonderful present if it matches your recipient's ideas of how to have a good time.