Nick's birthday is rapidly approaching and while I have already gotten him his gift, a few other people have been asking me what he might want. In all honesty, this is one of the first years I'm not entirely sure what to say. In years past I have usually gone with clothes. He needed white t-shirts, socks, new underwear, and a general beefing up of his wardrobe (as do most guys in the first 5 years you date them). But now that he has everything he needs (and then some), he has been a little bit of a challenge for me.
Normally I'm very good at gift giving, and some of my cousins have even told me that I always give the best presents. I think a key part of this is that I care more about making other people happy than getting a thank you, or buying them the latest coolest thing that I love. So since I struggled with coming up with a list of even five things to tell my mother that Nick wanted (and didn't consist of things like "a new flat screen TV"), and Christmas is coming when I will need to do the whole process over again for him, except now I have to add into the fact that I need to figure out what to buy him from me, and what to get 3 other problem people on my list; I figured an entry about gift giving might help refocus me and help you to shop for those problem people on your Holiday lists this year.
Step 1. Figure out what your budget is, or if you have a budget at all. Compile your coupons, and shop during sales. Obviously I cannot afford to buy Nick his flat screen TV. And this year for Christmas we are trying to keep to a strict budget as well. I've always been known to give too generously and get us into trouble in the month of January. But not this year! And in my recent purchases for others (yes, I do start Christmas shopping this early) I have been pretty good about that.
Step 2. Ask the person what they want. Yeah, I know that is a no brainer, but sometimes it's just easier than playing the guessing game and always being wrong. For example: "Nick, what do you want for your birthday this year? I know some things, but I really can't think of anything that is easily feasible for most people?" "Akido lessons, a Kindle, a fan for the office." All things I had no idea he wanted. So now I have three things on my list.
Step 3. Think about what the person needs. For Nick, this is an easy one. He lives with me. He is my husband. So I know what he/we need around the apartment and things that bother him. We need a new DVD player for upstairs as the hand-me-down we have is shot. And I'd like it to have a VCR so we can play my old videos from when I was little once in awhile. He needs some new coffee mugs because a couple of the ones he has are pretty old and are starting to smell. He always needs more underwear and white t-shirts. He uses a lot of blank DVDs and CDs because he works in IT and he's constantly working on other peoples' computers and uses them up. We also need more wall art that is not photography, but I can't afford that...or maybe I can if the store is right. Ok, so now I have a few more things to add to that list.
Step 4. Think about what the person likes (ie. NOT what YOU like) and their hobbies. Nick likes Batman, Russel Crowe, things that are corny, horror movies, coffee, chocolate, physics, wine, the color blue, little gadgets, beer, steins, things that are Italian or German (his heritage), and the Dalai Lama. I do not like horror movies, physics, most beer, little gadgets, and I honestly think a lot of the things the Dalai Lama says are common sense so I don't see what the big deal is. But we're talking about gifts for Nick here, and if it's something I think that will make him happy, then I need to suck it up and get it for him.
Step 5. Compile your list (with his priorities) and don't get side tracked when you go in the store:
-a rotating fan
-any Batman DVD
-joke books, especially if it has to do with zombies or Halloween
-travel mugs and other coffee accessories*
-beer guides (oh wait, he already has one. Scratch that.) Make that a wine guide for Northern California*
-Piny the Elder beer*
-a bottle of red wine
-wine aerator (already has a red one, maybe a white one? Unless that's too selfish because I'm the white drinker in the house.) So maybe the aerator stand I talked him out of getting
-a gadget from Restoration Hardware
-fancy chocolate bars or peppermint bark
-Dalai Lama quote books*
Step 6. Make sure the presentation is nice. And if you're not a good wrapper, that's what gift bags are for.
So I think I just figured out what I'm going to get Nick for Christmas. This was quite helpful!
Here are some other tips to think about:
-Give gender (no chainsaws to women) and age appropriate gifts (for kids, you may need to ask parents what kinds of things they're into because for some there is a huge mental age and taste variation). This also means don't get a kid an adult gift or a young child a gift you think will teach them a lesson. Chances are they won't learn the lesson (they probably won't even figure it out when they're older) and only learn that you give lame gifts.
-Give a gift that has meaning (either to the person or one describes your relationship with them)
-Give a gift that doesn't say you don't care about the person (even if you really don't)
-If someone needs money (like a poor college student, or someone saving to for a major purchase like a house, or said flat screen tv), it's ok to give them money
-Sometimes the trendiest thing you can find is a good gift, sometimes it's not. This depends on the person (see step 4)
-Even if you get Nick those white t-shirts for his birthday, make sure you give him something else this way you're not just giving a bland gift