We are approaching my absolute favorite time of year - the holiday season - and a few of my coworkers and I have already started to think about, pick out, and even purchase some of the holiday gifts for our friends, families, and secret santas. I pride myself on picking out thoughtful, fun, and occasionally elaborate gifts for those close to me, whether it be for the holidays, their birthday, or just a rough day in general. So here are a few tips that have really helped me whether getting a gift was a well-thought out process or a last minute grab!
1. Keep a list on your phone
2. If you see something early, buy it (especially if it is on sale)
3. Stay Organized
Are you a gift-giver on a budget? Or just the kind of person who always forgets what they got or plan to get someone? Keep a running Google Sheet. It helps Adam and I budget what we are able to spend, keep track of what gifts are for who, and gave us an idea of what we were looking for during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. We ended up saving almost $200 the first year we started this trend, and it helps us reference what we've already given family members. It also helped because in joint gifts (either from Adam and myself or from multiple family members pooling in) we were able to keep track of who was pitching in for what.
4. Stock up on some universal gifts
This may seem counter productive, but it is not what you think. If you have the opportunity to stock up on universal gifts like an Alexa, an iHome, a classic book, a coffee mug with candy in it, etc. it can really save you in a pinch. It happens so often that a birthday comes up or someone brings an unexpected guest to a family holiday event that require a last minute gift, and it is not always reasonable to run to the store. Having a few back-up gifts that are easy to wrap can be a life saver. Personally, I love to overstock on Bath and Body Works products when there is a sale so that I can combo a few as a gift if needed. That works well because if we end up not needing them for a long period of time Adam and I can still use them ourselves so we don't feel as though we wasted money buying those items.
5. Think about the person
This may seem obvious, but to sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in getting a "good gift" vs. a gift the person will appreciate. Ask yourself, is this person sentimental? If yes, a picture or something from a memory is a great gift; but if the answer is no it is important to look more into gifts the person might find "useful".
Another good question, is the person going through a major life event? One of the best gifts I've ever received was a cookbook of recipes compiled from my grandmother's kitchen. My aunt went through all of the cookbooks and note cards, even scanning some instead of typing them if it was a recipe she wrote by hand. My aunt gave copies to all of our family the first Christmas after my grandmother's passing and I still believe it was the perfect gift. It carries so much sentimentality, but is also something I've used 20+ times over the past year. It was very relevant to what was happening in our lives right then.
One last tip to consider, what is something this person will actually use? It ties in to the other two questions but is still strong enough to stand alone. This is something I really struggled with for a while because I would think of things I live vs. what another person would like. Coffee mugs are amazing if you drink coffee/tea at home, but for a person who hates coffee or is always on the go it may be better to consider other options. This especially applies to children. When choosing gifts for kids it is so easy to think of what we liked as a kid or interests we want kids to take on, but it is much more beneficial to ask their parents what their interests are or if you are able to ask the kids themselves. Every year I debate getting my brother a book or a cool science-y toy, but he loves football and playing video games so gifts revolving around those things mean so much more to him.
I hope these tips can help you this holiday season, and maybe just in general! Giving something to someone else is a gift all on its' own, and it feels great to give something that brings them joy. What are some of the best gifts you've received and why were they the best? What are some of the best gifts you've given to others? Let me know in the comments.
I am a student affairs professional, an amateur chef, and an adventurer at heart.
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