How to Give Really Good Gifts
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In my humble opinion, there's a difference between buying a present for someone and giving them a gift.
Buying a present is just that—buying a present. Gifting, on the other hand, is intentionally choosing a gift for someone you care about.
One is self-serving and, honestly, pretty boring; the latter is an act of love, it's fun, and it's impactful for relationships.
But, we get it.
It can be overwhelming or burdensome to find just the right thing for someone. Maybe you are even plagued with a super busy schedule that prohibits shopping or an indecisiveness that paralyzes you when shopping. Maybe you're a self-proclaimed Bad Gift Giver.
Well, good news, friend! We're your new Official Gifting Besties™️ (emphasis on that ™️) and we're here to help you learn how to give really good gifts.
We believe in 3 principles to practice when gift giving: useful, thoughtful, and delightful.
There's nothing better than giving a gift that's actually used. Better yet? Seeing someone use the gift you gave them. Makes my heart leap.
Useful gifts are awesome for a lot of reasons. For starters, it can be truly delightful to receive something you didn't know you needed. My mom always aimed to do that for us, and it was SO FUN to receive those random kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed in your life.
Secondly, when something is useful, the recipient uses it (ok, duh) and might think about you when they use it—thus strengthening your relationship. Love that.
- Aforementioned kitchen gadgets. Do you have a digital meat thermometer? Life-changing and a crowd pleaser for so many different recipients.
- I gifted Jack's teachers a Yeti mug and a gift card for teacher appreciation last year. Very simple. One of his teachers used it every single day and it made me so happy. I hope she giggles occasionally thinking about the forced smile phase he went through when she enjoys her morning coffee.
- Say you traveled with your mom recently and she lugged along her giant sleep machine. A wonderful, useful gift? A portable one that's easy to pop in her bag when she travels. This helps her pack lighter and sleep deeper—double win.
Thought starters for useful gifts:
- What does the recipient's schedule look like?
- Do they spend a lot of time in a specific place?
- Do they have a hobby they love?
- Do they have goals they are working on?
- What's the biggest pain point in their life?
- What types of practical things bring this person joy?
The gift of making someone feel known or acknowledged—when the giver uses the gift to reflect something within the receiver.
- You know the receiver is a new parent and the baby is having a really hard time sleeping. Thus, mama isn't sleeping either. So, you gift them a funny card with a Starbucks gift card inside (yay, caffeine!) and a pack of under-the-eye gel patches to disguise the inevitable bags within the envelope.
- Or, perhaps, the receiver is always cold. Everywhere they go—shivering. You know the type. Maybe you snag them a new pair of knit gloves or a cozy throw or a mini space heater for their desk.
- Or maybe, they randomly mention in a conversation in February that their tweezers absolutely suck and you write that down and get them fancy ones that they'd never buy themselves.
Thoughtful gifts don't have to be pricey. Often, they aren't. They don't have to be glamorous, either. All they have to say is "Hey, I know you, I see you, I love you." It's less about the gift and more about the nod.
Pro tip: Thoughtful gifts require excellent record keeping. If you're anything like me and forget everything immediately, I've found that the free AnyList app is amazing for this. I have a list called "Gift Ideas" and any time someone mentions something that prompts a gift idea, I add it to the AnyList with a note of who it's for. Come Christmas or their birthday, I have a few ideas in mind already.
Thought starters for thoughtful gifts:
- What's currently happening in this person's life?
- Is there something I can do to make this person's life better?
- What is this person into right now?
- What's the recipient's schedule like?
- Do they spend a lot of time in a specific place?
- What do you think of when you think of this person?
- How does this person receive love?
- Does this person have a Pinterest board?
- What types of gifts has this person given me or others in the past?
This one is easy. Something that brings a dash—or tidal wave—of delight to the recipient. Important clarification for you: This is NOT about your delight. It's all about theirs. One more time: it's entirely about THEM.
- For Christmas last year, my son desperately wanted the outrageously large Paw Patrol Tower. I vehemently didn't want to purchase because, well, ugh. But, he was deeply delighted by it on Christmas morning. It was worth it, even though I sold it to some other poor (thoughtful!) soul 4 months later when our Paw Patrol phase abruptly ended.
- A bright pink sweater for your sister who looks outstanding in color.
- Chocolate croissants from a local French bakery with a note that says "Bonjour, madame!" for your wanderlusting bestie.
Thought starters for delightful gifts:
- What is something this person would never buy for themself?
- What is something they are really interested in right now?
- What does this person enjoy "splurging" on? (Note: splurge doesn't always mean expensive—could be nail polish they don't actually need or an indulgence in a fancy bag of coffee beans when they typically buy the cheapest bag at the store.)
- What do you think about when you think of this person? Think: colors, styles, icons, flavors, etc.
I love seeing these 3 principles as a good old-fashioned Venn diagram because you can see that these 3 principles can indeed overlap, which brings us to...
The Holy Grail
Now, let's direct our attention to the centermost point of the Venn diagram: Holy Grail Gifting. The gift that hits on all 3 principles—useful, thoughtful, and delightful.
You've probably received a Holy Grail Gift before. It just hits different. It's likely the gift that comes to mind when you think about the best gift you've ever been given.
Because I'm realistic and not overly ambitious (Pretty Good, remember?), I aim to hit one overlap—something that's thoughtful and delightful, or thoughtful and useful. Sometimes I get lucky and hit The Holy Grail and it's unequivocally electrifying.
Hope for the Hopeless
For those of you who made it all the way to the end of this and still feel like you're just never going to be a good gifter—no sweat. That's why we created Persnickety. To help you celebrate the life and people right in front of you, without the stress.
Each gift we select for Persnickety falls under at least one of these 3 principles. We have a strict No Junk policy—nothing in our shop would be considered "filler". We all have plenty of that already! Everything is intentionally curated for the ages and gender specified. That's what truly makes Persnickety special.