In my family when we bought someone a gift we asked ourselves 3 questions:
The first criteria – “What do they NEED?”.
If we answered ourselves in the affirmative the next question asked – “What DON’T they have?”
And the final test to pick a gift – “Would the gift be USEFUL to them?”.
Sometimes the resulting gift was wonderful and appreciated. This, I will admit, was often when the gift giver didn’t follow those rules or asked the recipient what they WANTED.
Entering adulthood I learned that my family-rules-of-gift-giving are waaaaay off. Here are my own guidelines (I’ve been told that I am pretty good at picking out gifts that hit the mark):
Gift Exchange by Peggy
Give people what they already have! I know, this doesn’t seem to make sense. Nobody needs what they already have. But if they have it, they LIKE it. If they have a whole lot of whatever it is, they like it a whole lot. So get them more. They will love it. They have already told you by their own choices.
If they don’t have it be sure they want it. This is something I have been guilty of–I think they need this. It would be good for them to have this. But if it’s easy for them to get and they haven’t gotten it . . they may not want it, unless it’s new or updated.
Wrap it beautifully or creatively. The neuroscience bears this out: When people are impressed by the wrapping that carries over to the gift. This is a similar concept to the wine testing that found people like a wine better when they are told it costs a lot, and like it less when told it is cheap – when it’s the exact same wine.
Use their colors & style. Think about the colors they wear or have in their homes. If you are getting clothes, this is also true of style–do they dress like a tomboy or a diva? Match their style. Matching style is good for everything, even a toaster.
Give an experience or time. Help them do more of what they love: Tickets to an event, creating free time (Your time babysitting, pet walking, running errands, cooking a meal etc ), Always ask yourself the same questions you would for a physical gift – Would they want/enjoy this?, Will it be easy for them to do?)
Resist temptation to get what YOU would want,
Think about how they will use it later, not so much about how they will react when opening the gift
Askwhat they would like (research on gifts shows following the gift list is more appreciated than off list items).
If you’ve found a great gift that fits more than one person, go ahead, give the same gift to different people.
Don’t go too fancy or complicated as most people want easy and convenient (unless you know they like fancy).
Let them know you were thinking about them–why you got it, what it reminded you of about them (especially for unusual or weird gifts).
if you give a “big” gift, leave it at that. Additional small gifts decrease the perceived value of a big gift
Ask their friends or look at their Facebook page for ideas on what they like (hobbies, interests, clothes/jewelry do they wear in their photos)
Are there gift-giving guidelines you follow? Let me know!