Conquer holiday gift giving & pacify the stress of giving season so you can get back to good tidings & cheer
So we are knee deep in The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. And even though this season generally brings us good tidings and cheer, those warm fuzzies that come with generosity and togetherness can easily mutate into stress and overwhelm.
The mere thought of holiday shopping chaos is enough to turn a Buddy the Elf into an Ebenezer Scrooge.
If we’re not careful, the joyful anticipation of gift exchange can quickly turn into unpleasant apprehension. The giver spends all season stressing about what to get, the entire experience culminating in anxiety towards the recipient’s reaction. The recipient, on the other hand, is under similar pressure to adequately react to their gift in a way that expresses proper gratitude to justify the efforts of the giver.
And we all have been there, on either side, fake smiling our way through that overtly regifted sweater or seemingly patronizing dumbells or the kind-of-presumptuous antiaging cream. And the other side of the special occasion transaction is all too familiar, awaiting elation from our recipient only for their reaction to fall flat.
But the holidays don’t have to be so bittersweet! Below you will find 11 tips and a free printable worksheet to help you navigate the fine lines of perfect gift giving so that you can trade that holiday stress with cheer.
How to find the perfect gift for all of the people on your list
Waiting until the last minute just adds another layer of anxiety that can easily be avoided.
Try to work from a brainstormed list. Coming up with a list of ideas will not only help you make premeditated, budgeted gift decisions, but will also reveal ideas that may not have come to you working from a blank slate.
If you’re drawing a complete blank on any ideas, try to orchestrate a scenario that inconspicuously causes them to bring up wants or desires. Take a visit to a shopping center and note anything that holds their attention. Ask another friend or relative for their input.
You may even need to play detective for a day. Check their clothes sizes when they’re not looking. Visit their online profiles or wishlists to see if they’ve left any evidence out in the open —(maybe I watch too much Law & Order?) Take note of anything they seem to be missing that may be gift-worthy.
If you still come up empty-handed, well, there is nothing wrong with the direct approach. Just ask.
Give without expectation. Giving something when expecting something back can taint the entire function of generosity. You end up turning a heartfelt experience into one of competition. And if they fail to meet your expectations, any genuine effort or thought they may have put towards surprising you is in vain.
Try to hone in on something specific to that person. If you reflect enough on the interests that person has and even conversations you both have shared, there are likely plenty of hints, left purposefully or not, that may tip you off to their perfect gift.
Your opinion simply does not matter when you’re shopping for someone else. We can be quick to get people things that we assume they’ll like simply because we like them.
Conversely, we may be inclined to avoid getting something that we know they love, simply because we hate it. If your grandmother has a doll collection that creeps you out, your sentiments should not keep you from getting her a display stand to better present her dolls.
Gifts don’t have to break your bank
We can get caught up in the present’s cost as if the more you spend, the more you care. But the price tag does not dictate the gift’s compatibility with your recipient. Sometimes the best gifts come at the cost of your time. If you know your best friend loves your famous cobbler recipe, you may try preparing the dish for her and attaching a handwritten recipe card to the dish.
When coming up with the perfect gift, try to dig a little deeper. Obvious presents are usually well received. But your recipient is probably already well-equipped with the obvious.
For example, if you have a wine lover on your list, I’m sure they’d love a new bottle of their favorite. But they may keep their favorite bottle constantly stocked, dulling the surprise a bit. Perhaps they’d be more surprised if you got them a trip to a winery or a subscription to Winc.
The most fun part of gift exchange can come with the anticipation of unwrapping a surprise. If you threw your gift in an old Happy Birthday bag, it can seem like you don’t care or that your gift was an afterthought.
Consider your audience
Gag gifts or intimate presents have a very specific place so make sure you take care to avert any awkward situations. Your grandmother may not get that meme greeting card you got her and your younger cousin may not need to be present as you unwrap Mrs. Claus lingerie.
Give a memory
Intangibles are the new black. Giving someone an experience to remember can leave a lasting memory that a new iPad never could.
Try to include a message.
A physical message can at once provide your recipient with thoughtful context behind your gift but can also be collected for memories to reflect upon for years to come.
How do you find the perfect gift?
Download our free gift planner here!
Lauren is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to writing here on Pursuit of Daydreams, Lauren’s daydreams consist of all forms of design: Graphic, Fashion, Web, Interior, Art. On any given day, she can be found preoccupied with at least one of the above. She is happiest with a bowl of ice cream in hand.
Also published on Medium.