A long long time ago, I happened to be walking through Tiffany and saw a platinum charm bracelet with a heart on it. It occurred to me that buying a charm would make a great gift for any occasion.
It’s easy for the gift giver and meaningful for the person receiving it. A baby boot for an expecting mom, a Champagne bottle for a soon-to-be bride, scissors for a hairstylist — you name it, there’s a charm for everyone and everything. The more I started thinking, the more I wanted a bracelet loaded with charms symbolic of my adventures, accomplishments and passions.
I left the store determined. I started dropping hints to my husband. I picked up a Tiffany catalog and circled the charm bracelet. I made references to different charms I saw and told him I thought it would make a great gift. So, when Christmas morning came along, you can imagine my surprise when my husband handed me a big heavy box. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I figured he hid my small Tiffany jewelry box in a larger box with a brick in it just to throw me off a bit. I picked it up, shook it and slowly ripped off the wrapping paper. Feeling a little suspicious, I looked at my husband for confirmation. He gave me a big reassuring smile, so I tore off the last bit of paper to reveal the secret inside. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a brand new Tivo box I was hoping would disappear!
After all of the hints I gave him and the subliminal messages I sent, how could he have possibly thought I wanted Tivo?!! At that very moment, the art of gift-giving never became so clear. Buying a present takes skill and, for some people, needs to be taught.
Even though I thought I had given enough clues to make him aware of what I wanted, he tuned in to other comments I had made. I’m not going to lie and say I was thrilled with the Tivo, but at least I knew he had made mental notes of things I had said, which is one step in the process of buying a meaningful gift for someone.
If you struggle with gift giving, here are a few tips to help ease your stress:
1.) Think of things that define the person — interests, hobbies, lifestyle choices, career, etc. Then break it down even further. Does that person like to listen to music or read books? Decorate the house or work in the yard? Once some information is gathered, the process is easier.
2.) Try to remember past conversations. What was talked about? Do similar topics continue to pop up? The same restaurants, brands or favorite places to shop? Remember, the best gifts are the ones that demonstrate you’ve paid attention.
3.) Has the recipient complimented or borrowed something you own? If so, great! No need to lend out those shoes again. Buy a new pair as a gift.
4.) Draw on personal experiences or ask friends or family. If the person loves to cook, think about what would make that experience more enjoyable. What do you find helpful in the kitchen? Do you have a favorite cookbook, utensils or bakeware? If you don’t cook, ask a friend who does.
5.) Shop in advance, not the last minute. Buying a meaningful gift takes time.
6.) If all else fails and you still can’t think of anything, buy booze.