Find that perfect gift for everyone on your list.
If shopping for Christmas gifts for your loved ones is tough, take solace in knowing that you're not alone. Even the most seasoned gift-givers have had the experience of not quite knowing what to buy their cranky aunt or wealthy boss. The process can be a little easier, however, if you follow these simple dos and don'ts.
1. Do get a gift receipt. Many small boutiques and independent stores offer gift receipts, so it's worth asking for one even if you're not buying the gift at a big-box store or retail chain.
2. Don't buy gifts because you want them for yourself. Some of us fall into the trap of seeing something we desire and, because we're unable to justify buying it for ourselves, we buy it for someone else. For instance, just because you love waffles doesn't mean you should buy that on-sale waffle iron for your spouse, who does not love waffles.
3. Do give presents that either impart or bring back memories. That doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money, or that it has to be the only gift you give.
Personalized experiences, like a trip to a favourite spa, or keepsakes, like a simple family photo in a picture frame for your loved one's desk, will be welcome by most. Naturally you can stick to gift cards for the people on your list you don't know so well.
4. Don't buy to impress. It's not the name on the label or the size of the box that determines if it's a good gift; it's whether the person receiving it will enjoy it or get good use out of it. Hopefully both!
5. Do ask what the person wants. You're not lacking in thoughtfulness if you can't intuit exactly what someone wants. And surprise gifts can be overrated unless they really fulfil a deep wish.
Keep in mind that when you inquire, you may get an evasive answer – "Oh, I don't need anything!" – or an outlandish or unaffordable request. Here's how to get around that. Simply tell the giftee: "I was planning on getting you a book because I know you read so much, are there any you've been meaning to read that I could get for you?" You can substitute "book" with "toy," "gift card" or any other category.
6. Do preassemble gifts for small children, the elderly and the non-tech savvy. But first, check the retailer's return policy. If they accept open-box returns, go ahead and figure out the gift before you give it so it's ready to go upon opening.
If you've bought your parents a new digital camera for instance, you can charge it up, install the memory card and read through the directions before giving it to them so that you don't have to come back a week later to do it. Kids delight in opening a toy and discovering the batteries are already in it – and so do their parents!
7. Don't forget it truly is the thought that counts. It's not an empty platitude.
Not all of us have large budgets for gift buying; not all of us have the time or ability to shop extensively; and not all of us will give the perfect gift every time. So don't be too hard on yourself. You've thought of the person on your list and whether they know it now or in the future, that's a great gift in itself