Running from the Law: Gift Guide -- Picking the Perfect Gift

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gift Guide -- Picking the Perfect Gift

I’ve been told quite a few times that I give great gifts. Why thank you! That's always so nice to hear! I’d love to think this is some special super-hero talent that I have, but really, it’s not that hard. Anyone can give great gifts. It just takes a couple things: (1) thoughtfulness about the gift receiver, (2) a little creativity, (3) time, and (4) a basic understanding of marketing. Let me explain…

Thoughtfulness about the gift receiver: This might be the MOST important thing to consider. You have to know and understand who it is that is receiving the gift. What are her interests or hobbies? What does her home look like? Does she have a favorite store? What’s her personality…is she artsy or outdoorsy or preppy or bookish or a fashionista? Is she old, young, a mom, single? Is she into brand-name items? Does she have a favorite designer? What is her favorite color? Has she mentioned ANYTHING to you that she needs, wants, would like, could use? All of these things are important when deciding on what to give someone. The more thought that goes into a gift, the more sentimental and special it will be to the receiver.

Creativity: This is a really important element when you need to come up with a gift…especially that someone that already has everything. We all know those people, right? Creativity is more than just thinking outside the box (in this case, the box is “the mall”). I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to just walk through the mall and hope something jumps out at me as the perfect gift for so-and-so. Usually I just find about 30 things that I feel I should buy for myself and leave with no gift and no ideas. Creative ideas can lead to unique gifts (or combinations of gifts) that (even though they might come from the mall) actually lets the receiver know you put some thought into the gift. Start with Step One above and think about the receiver, then brainstorm ideas (scour the internet for inspiration, think of what you two have talked about recently, think about things you have (or received as gifts) that you love or couldn’t live without). Write down all the ideas. From here, maybe something stands out more than others. Maybe you have a price-point that you need to stay below that rules out some items. Maybe you have an idea of a few small things, but want to do something more. As long as you have an idea and a little time (see below), you’ll be able to come up with a creative (and amazing) gift for anyone.

Time: Having plenty of time is always helpful when it comes to gift giving for about a million reasons…a couple of which are below:

1. You need time to think about the gift (and the receiver) and come up with creative ideas. You might be able to come up with the perfect gift after an hour of brainstorming, but I usually need a couple days (at least) to think about everything and let me ideas marinate. Although it may not always be possible, it’s always better to avoid rushing and not having time to put any real thought into a gift. Gift cards are nice (especially if that’s something she really wants), but I sometimes feel they’re a bit generic and not very thoughtful. The more time for thinking of ideas, the more creative the gift.

2. Time is especially important when you want to do a custom gift. A custom gift is an amazing thing to give (and receive) because it’s so unique and personal. Whether it’s personalized stationery, a pair of earrings to match her favorite necklace or a wooden pub sign with her last name on it, a custom gift shows you really thought about it. Etsy is a great source for all kinds of amazing custom items (jewelry, art, paper, clothing, accessories, home items, etc.). However, most custom/personalized item will need some time to make and cannot be rushed.

3. Time is also important when you need to order something online that can’t be picked up at a store. Not all of us are lucky enough to live within 10 miles of 2 Pottery Barns, right? I grew up in a small town with one store (Wal-Mart), so any gift not from Wal-Mart made it even more special. Plus, stores don’t always have what you want in the store’s inventory, but you can probably find it online. Make sure to give yourself time for ordering, making the item and shipping. The internet gives you more options than ever to come up with a gift that’s unique, unusual, hard-to-find, etc., but requires a little extra time than picking it up at the local mall. Give yourself time to find the gift and get it shipped. Did you find something you LOVED, but couldn’t afford it? Try finding it cheaper (even slightly used (for some things, not all)) on ebay! You need time for bidding and processing and shipping.

Marketing and Packaging: This might sound stupid, but the appearance of your gift is more important than you might know. People can make terrible first impressions by dressing sloppily…so can gifts! If your gift looks like crap when you give it to the receiver, I guarantee it’ll detract from the awesomeness of the gift inside…it’s crazy but true! Do not let this happen! Gift wrapping can be so simple. Keep some rolls of wrapping paper and pretty ribbon at home for such occasions (simple paper and solid color bows – the colors don’t have to match, but should complement each other). Can’t wrap? Have a friend do the wrapping for you. Or put it in a pretty box or gift bag. Or have it wrapped at the store. It’s that easy. There should be no excuse for a poorly wrapped gift.

Hopefully this gift-buying guide was a little bit helpful and will inspire you to give the most amazing gifts ever. And isn't that really the most important thing? That your gift be the most special, thoughtful and best-looking gift out there, thereby making you the center of attention for your excellent gift-giving ability and the most popular girl at the party. I think so.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to try to come up with a couple different posts with gift ideas, suggestions and advice for all kinds of people/situations. First up, the PERFECT Hostess gift.

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