The art of giving

I’m one of those horribly shallow people who loves to shop.  Full on, Confessions of a shopaholic-style, get a thrill out of a great purchase kind of person.  I don’t know why.  It’s an expensive habit, and try as I might, I can’t shake it.  However, it does come with positives, one of which being that I give great gifts.  Because I enjoy shopping, I don’t mind if I do it all day in pursuit of the perfect item.  I don’t normally have to, as I know my territory and am usually pretty quick, but it also means that I don’t mind if persistence is required.

When a link appeared on my Twitter feed a few weeks ago, claiming to offer advice on how to be the best gift-giver ever, I was excited, and clicked through expecting to be nodding along.  I was disappointed.  The first piece of advice?  “Search for their Amazon wishlist”.  I found this incredibly uninspiring advice, and the article only got worse (looking them up on Pinterest?  Spare me).  So I decided to share my own secrets…

  1. There’s no harm in asking: Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries aren’t surprise occasions – everyone knows when their own is, and those of us with close family and friends are probably prepared to be asked what we’d like, or if there’s anything we need. So ask!  Recruit other family members, significant others or close friends in your quest if necessary, but you can still surprise the recipient despite asking if they have anything specific in mind.  I encourage my recipients to think big, too – I think some of the best gifts are things which the recipient wouldn’t buy for themselves
  2. Pay attention: if you’re buying for someone you see regularly and/or know well, you probably won’t have to ask. Whether they mean to or not, many people drop hints (some of us are less subtle than others!).  For example – I know which brands my close friends like, so if I know they’re in need of new clothes, I’ll consider buying them a voucher… but I’m aware that my friends have a selection of regular haunts which ebbs and flows.  Try to spot which brand they’re currently coveting in order to make sure they can get the best from their gift
  3. Bigger does not equal better: the best gift doesn’t have to be expensive, and the perfect item doesn’t have to be the most expensive of its kind. What counts is that you do your best with your budget and the recipient’s interests in mind.  It’s great to have lots of money lavished on us… if we’re into that sort of thing and if the occasion demands.  But if what the person really and truly wants is socks… well, there’s honestly no need to spend £20 on a pair of the regular variety.  That said…
  4. Remember the occasion: you are buying someone a present – unless they’ve asked you to shop in Poundland, you’re better to stretch yourself a little and spoil your recipient. If champagne and chocolates are what they want, avoid the petrol station and set aside 20 minutes to visit a larger supermarket at the very least, in order to choose from a better selection.  Remember – something they wouldn’t necessarily purchase for themselves.  But again…
  5. It really is the thought that counts: some people think it’s cheesy (remember these people, they’re the ones you unfortunately need to actually buy for), but make your own-style vouchers are underrated. Especially for occasions such as Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or to congratulate new parents, these can be great.  Things like “one Sunday roast (including free clearing up service)” or “I will empty the ironing basket (and by ‘empty’ I mean ‘iron every single item for you’)” can be great signs of how much you appreciate a person.  Some can involve spending a little money (such as “I will take you out for dinner when that restaurant you’re interested in opens”), but sometimes, experiences are better than “things”
  6. You don’t get a second chance…: before you wrap the gift (or pay someone else to), make sure any incriminating evidence is destroyed – inspect the item(s) carefully for price labels (this doesn’t necessarily mean cutting the tags off – items from higher-end brands will often have the price on a perforated tab, so that you can leave the tags on in case of the need for returns). This is especially important if the items have been purchased as part of a deal – nobody wants to open a gift and find BOGOF stickers, or a huge “special offer” label.  When purchasing items, check the shop’s return policy if you have any niggling doubts.  Keep the receipt, and ask for a gift receipt if possible (these normally have the price concealed) in order to make for easy exchanges if necessary.  Finally, make sure the gift is presented nicely – choose an appropriate packaging method (paper, box or bag) for the item(s), and one which suits the style of the recipient (few adults want to rip kiddie paper off a gift!).  Personalise if you can, such as writing a card to go with a voucher, or hand-writing a card to go with flowers if you purchase in person.  Show the recipient that you’ve considered every detail, rather than got bored or tired and given up.  You like them enough to buy them a gift, so remind them how special you think they are

I say all of this as someone who likes to please, and knows a few people who don’t want for anything.  People who are selfless, generous and kind, the ones who deserve spoiling.  Go forth and revel in making those people smile!  I’d love to know how you get on.

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One thought on “The art of giving

  1. Pingback: The art of giving (when the recipient is too young to know that they’re getting) | Kicking On

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