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The Best Present-Buying Guide EVER!

The Best Present-Buying Guide EVER!

We all know that thing about how Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but sometimes it can also be the most horrible time of the year.

You know what I’m talking about. Gift shopping.

“Oh, I don’t need anything,” your wife says, but you know that if you don't give her anything you may as well just scalp yourself now. Then there are your friends, parents, in-laws... and more. You could ask them what they want, and if you’re really lucky, they’ll tell you exactly and you can go buy it, but that takes all the romance out of the event. And you absolutely don’t want to resort to buying the DVD of Sharknado 5 at Macro because it was on sale for ten bucks!

So here is the ultimate guide to finding the perfect gift for anyone and everyone.
Thank us with presents (or just like and share…).

1. Make a list of all the things the person is interested in.
Make this list long; spend at least two full minutes writing down as many things as you can. Now brainstorm something to go with every item on that list, small or big - bacon, astronomy, socks. Think of it all. You don’t have to give all of those gifts, but you’re going to hit on some cool ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise, and when you combine a few of them, your giftee will appreciate how personal and thoughtful you were.

2. Look to the past.
Maybe someone on your list recently graduated from college, and you could frame his diploma for display. One of our gift exchange participants received a painting of her dog that had died the year before. Let them relive their childhood. Find them that original TV game they loved when they were 12, or have a t-shirt made with a phrase you used to share.

3. Ask yourself what that person NEEDS.
I know what you’re saying: stop it. They DO need something. The key is to think broader. What does a super busy businessman need? Time, probably. There are tons of products out there to help people run their lives more efficiently, from apps to watches to books on how to run your life more efficiently. Have a brother in nursing school? Put together a student nurse survival kit! Thinking on a more general level will help you get outside your regular, narrower view of that person.

4. Get stalking.
If all else fails, spy. Many people have a wishlist on Amazon, and they’ll be pretty surprised and delighted if you somehow found just the thing they wanted without even asking, and that they may have even forgotten they wanted themselves. Look through their Facebook history for clues. If they’re on Pinterest or similar apps, you can see what types of things they’ve posted and commented on before. You’ll look like a genius.

5. Make it personal.
Something special from your hands shows the time and effort you have invested. Create a piece of art, write a song, knit a scarf… you get the idea. Combine this with one (or more) of the above suggestions for an ultra-personalised gift.

6. Make them laugh.
Don’t just give a Kindle - give your crazy liberal friend a Kindle hidden inside a copy of FW de Klerk’s autobiography. Know someone who loves potatoes? Give them a ten kilo bag of them. Comedy Central blogger Mike Pomranz participated in a gift exchanges and sent his giftee one hundred trillion dollars; and it was real, it just also happened to be in Zimbabwean dollars.

7. Literally share an experience.
She loves Les Mis but already has the book and the movie and the movie poster? Buy tickets to see the show. Go to a cabaret, zip-lining, cave exploring at Maropeng, a trip to the zoo, or a cooking class. Make memories that they will remember forever!

8. Get charitable.
Ok, so they REALLY have everything they need?! I don’t believe you, but that’s okay, because there are a lot of other people out there who don’t have everything they need. Find something they’re passionate about, and then donate to that cause. Are they a dog lover? Donate to an animal rescue. Or sponsor an animal at a zoo. Make present boxes for underprivileged kids with their name attached. There are thousands of charities helping with a cause that will be dear to their heart. Plus the karma will be excellent.

9. Make the present a gift in itself.
Get creative with the packaging! Rather than just handing them a gift in regular wrapping paper, think of the receiving experience as an event. Hide the gift and send them on a treasure hunt. Rather than just giving a gift card, hide a secret message in a Twilight book that sends them to the gift card code. Or sew the present into a giant stuffed pony so they have to do surgery on it to get it out. Never, ever, underestimate the sheer fun of unwrapping presents. And sometimes quantity means quality, like a bunch of small individually wrapped items to be savoured as they are opened.


HINT: Finding a Gift for Someone You Do Not Know Well

Create a homemade “hostess gift” - a classic hostess gift is a nice bottle of wine, but if your hosts do not drink or if you are looking for a more unique gift, you may go homemade. This could be a homemade mix of spices and seasonings in a nice jar for the host to throw on chicken or fish, or a homemade cake for dessert wrapped in wax paper, or your secret salad dressing recipe. You could also bring other homemade items like a homemade candle or homemade bath salts, but if you don’t know them well opt for edible gifts that have wide appeal. Food always wins!

Or buy a practical gift - if you are trying to find a suitable gift for an authority figure, like your teacher or your boss, you may opt for practical items. This could be a gift basket of school supplies, full of all of the teacher's essential school supplies for the next school year or a gift basket of tea and coffee, if your teacher enjoys their morning cuppa. Or, you could make them a personalised coffee sleeve for their coffee mug.
For your boss, you may want to play it safe and go for a gift that is practical but also thoughtful, especially if you want to impress them. Look for a nice succulent plant in a pot or make them a glass terrarium to brighten up the office. If your boss drinks and enjoys cocktails, give a seven piece cocktail set or a nice wine opener. If you know your boss' sense of humour, consider a funny desk calendar for the new year that they can look at every day and be reminded how awesome you are.

Happy shopping!

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  • Georgina Roberts
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