Gift Selection 101

Thursday, March 7, 2013
I’m responsible for external gift buying in my household. If it was up to my fiancé we would show up to all birthday gatherings and housewarmings with smiles and empty hands.   So it becomes my job to pick out gifts, even for his coworkers and friends!  Gift buying can be a challenge, especially when I try to bypass gift carding whenever possible.

Here are some of my tips for gift buying for any occasion:

1.       Need meets want - ask yourself (or your spouse) what the person or couple may need. God bless people that register but it isn’t always the case especially for birthday parties!  Although, I think I may just start a precedent and register for my next birthday!  I try to take a page from my mother’s Christmas playbook and buy people at least one item they may need (not socks but you get my point).  Then I ask what they may want and try to marry the two concepts.
2.      Personalize – to personalize sometimes you need to get to know the person or at least ask a few qualifying questions (you also have to listen to their responses).  So don’t just give a book, give a book on their wish list with a handwritten note on the inside cover and a special book mark. Create handmade cards or special accents that have meaning to them. Personal touches are easy accents to any gift.
3.      Themes are helpful – I love getting a series of small gifts that fit a theme and my gift budget. I do this especially if I’m shopping for kids. My fiancé’s nephew was into trucks last year so I got him a mini-truck gift set. Truck books, truck toys, truck play-doh, and truck t-shirts. I put together a few items all under $10 each into one bigger gift set. He loved it and so did my wallet!  I do the same for my adult friends too! I have done gift sets with football, wine, movie, book, and other themes.  I pick what they love and turn into a gift basket (or bag) of fun!
4.      Solicit help – Use your friends or family as a sounding board for your ideas. That is how you avoid gift disasters and allergic reactions. Use the person’s friends or family (if you have access). It is always good to consult subject matter experts, especially if they know the person very well!
5.      Don’t stress – racking your brain to come up with the ultimate gift puts too much pressure on your gift buying experience. Have fun, be thoughtful, and relax. Push comes to shove always remember that retailers invented gift receipts for a reason!
6.      Don’t be a last minute shopper – planning ahead of time makes it easier to gift buy. It gives you time to be creative and come up with a great gift.  It also reduces your level of stress.  So avoid picking up gifts on the way to the event as best you can. I know in our household that isn’t always the case (thanks for the 2 hrs. notice for that work birthday party dear) so I keep a few generic go to gifts and cards handy in the house. You can never go wrong with a bottle of wine and a handwritten tag with their stamped initials (makes you look more thoughtful then you are) and only takes 5 minutes!  Ribbon, ink pad, and wine sold separately.
7.      Presentation is everything – so once you have picked out a gift you are ready to package, wrap, or jazz it up however you see fit. I try to pick paper that fits the person or party theme.  I'm also a huge fan of customized wrapping paper (consider making it yourself)!


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