How to Buy the Perfect Gift

With the holiday season right around the corner, I’m sure a lot of you are scrambling in the efforts of finding the perfect gift.  Personally, I’ve often been told that I am a great gift giver.  I’d honestly have to agree.  However, sometimes I do fall short, going for cop outs like a bottle of alcohol and some cheese.  Perfect gifts are hard.  Like.  Really.  Hard.

Some of the best gifts I’ve ever given someone might seem stupid to you.  Because honestly that’s what it is.  You don’t give someone a gift — you give them what they didn’t need, but always needed.  I once gave someone property on the moon, because she loved the moon.  I gave a person a cookbook with a personally inscribed letter to said person from the author/chef.  I got a band to dedicate their entire set during a concert to my (now ex) girlfriend.  I made a book and bounded it by hand.  I made shirts, hats, and posters.  Make a thought.

They say thought is the best gift, so put thought into everything… even in the wrapping if you can.

Give Someone a Memory

Think of someone you plan on giving a gift to.  Think of the first time you met that person.  Think of what happened when you met them.  Was it at a party?  At a bar?  Maybe in a grocery store?  Or randomly… the president’s correspondence dinner?  The point is, it doesn’t matter where you met them, but how.  Give them something that will bring them back to that moment.

The CD of the song that was playing at the party.  Maybe the shirt you were wearing at the bar.  Your grocery list.  Or your name card at the fancy dinner.  So, maybe you are an actual human and you can’t remember the song, or the shirt, or threw away the grocery list…. that’s fine.  Build off of that.  I’m sure there was a picture taken at the party, frame it.  Take them to said bar and explain.  (Don’t go to the grocery store).  But hey!  Steal a shopping basket from there?   Or be logical and think of something more recent.  Maybe you and your friends took a trip somewhere together.  Maybe you guys watch Doctor Who every Saturday together.  Maybe you bonded over carrots.  I don’t know your life.

The point is… give them something that makes them remember the good times.  In the end, that’s what we have anyways.  Show them that.

Give Them a Passion

Everyone has a hobby.  Probably an interest, too.  Show them that you support them in that.  Or that you have paid enough attention to know exactly what that is.  I once had a friend who loved to bake, and if I ever struggled with an idea of what to get her, I would get her something baking related.  I would never do anything basic.  I would do something great, like a matching set of “blah, blah, blah” or  a series of cookbooks, or piece together all of her recipes and make that into a cookbook.

I have multiple friends who are musicians.  And one thing about musicians is that it’s hard to get them something music related that they don’t already have.  You don’t get someone a guitar who already has four great guitars.  You don’t give them lessons if they know how to play.  You don’t give them a CD or vinyl, because that’s already easily obtainable (unless it’s rare, then do it if you can).  And you don’t want to be boring by just getting strings, sheet music, capo, or a tuner.

What you should give them — something autographed if possible.  BUT… a poster from their first show.  Concert tickets to one of their favorite artists.  A music video compiled of their gigs.  Maybe just a gig itself!   Or a recording session (if you can either afford it, or have a friend).

If It Can be Handmade, Make It by Hand

Anybody can buy anything these days.  It’s not hard.  You want a band t-shirt, go online.  You want a scarf, go online.  You want a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, go online.  Show that person that you care by making it instead.

If your friends favorite band is Modest Mouse, then draw something out and screen print it on a t-shirt, or use fabric markers and draw it directly on the shirt itself.   Learn how to knit and make a scarf, and even if it ends up looking bad, theres that thought people keep talking about.

If you suck with art stuff, commission something.  It will still be impressive, I promise.

Give Them an Experience

So you’re extra scrambling to get someone something.  You don’t much about them.  This person is your brother-in-law and you met him twice before, but you don’t want to be rude and not get him a present, but you also don’t have the indecency to get him only a gift card.  What do you do?

Groupons are still cool, right?  Get them something they can do with their partner.  Buy him/them a couples massage.  Treat them to dinner (but don’t be there).  Skydiving lessons.  Tickets to a play, comedy show, or concert.  Hot air balloon ride.  Horse ridding lessons.  Or a season passes to a sporting event.  Be even more awesome/sketchy and maybe go crash a wedding together.  Or sneak into something.  If you can’t give them a personal experience, or you can’t make them recall a memory, then you should make a new one.

I was once given rock climbing lessons, and I thought that was incredibly thoughtful, imaginative, and awesome!

Start Your Search Soon Always

If you’re in trouble by this point.  Odds are it might be too late.  You do have a small chance though, don’t give up.

The best time to start looking is as soon as you meet the person.  Not saying you have to buy it then, but you should at least know what you will buy them. The moment you meet them, pay attention to what they say.  Favorite color.  Flower.  Restaurant.  Movie.  TV Show.  If they casually say, “I’ve always wanted this!”  Make note of that.  Literally.  Write it down in your phone, journal, PDA, iPad, scroll, or anywhere they won’t see.

Update that list accordingly, because then you’ll have an entire selection of items at your disposal come the holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries.

Throw in a Card

Referring to the above, I try my best to always hand make my cards.  By all means go to Hallmark to get inspiration, and maybe an envelope too.  But make the card by hand.  You can use regular card stock paper you get from Walmart, and fold it in half: hamburger style.  Or you can do better and get fancy card stock at a Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or whatever your arts & craft store is.   Then draw a picture on it, doesn’t have to look nice, just has to have a relevant reference.  Then get a sharpie and write one of those cheesy prewritten words/poems/jokes/quotes that you find in normal cards (but make it an original — don’t plagiarize).  Lastly, write something meaningful.  It doesn’t have to be sad, romantic, cute, funny, it just has to be real.

Write from the heart.

Be Thoughtful

The whole point of all of this is to just state that you do need to be thoughtful.  If you’re taking the time to think about someone else by getting them a gift, odds are you probably care about this person.  So do what you can to show them that.  Money doesn’t mean a thing, honestly.  Not when it comes to these things.  Don’t be materialistic, don’t worry about whether or not they need the best model/version, don’t worry about those things.  If they aren’t appreciative, take a look at what they got you, and see what they think of you.

Every person is unique, give them something that shows them that.  The gift isn’t about you, it’s about them.

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