HOW TO BUY A GIFT: THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE
For some people, the art of gift giving comes naturally. They’re the lucky ones among us who know instantly what to buy as soon as an occasion comes around — but it’s not that way for everyone.
For those of you that don’t have the gift of gift giving, it can give you a headache just thinking about what the recipient might want, let alone buying something.
That’s where this article comes in! We’re on a mission to help you whittle down your muddled list to that one perfect gift.
We promise that if you read this article, you won’t even need to write in the card ‘I have the receipt if you don’t like it’, because you’ll be so confident they will.
But firstly, let’s start with the basics and work from there:
1. WHO ARE YOU BUYING FOR?
Hopefully, you already have this one covered. Different friends and family members may appreciate slightly different gift ideas.
You wouldn’t buy your new girlfriend the same type of present you got your gran for her 80th birthday. Think about who the person is and their relation to you.
Think about the number of people you’re buying for as well. For example, if you’re buying for a friend’s wedding anniversary, you’re technically buying for two people; so it’s important to consider them both.
Most importantly, try not to base your gift around something they may have got you in the past.
If we did that every time we might constantly be buying bad presents or ones that are overly extravagant.
Just because someone bought you a Gucci handbag don’t feel pressured into spending the same amount of money when buying them a gift. Remember, it’s relative, and although they have the money to do that you may not.
Could It Be Easier Than You Think?
Also, consider whether they asked you to get a certain gift. Somebody may give you subtle hints, or just be direct and tell you outright what it is they want you to get them.
Often, we ignore people’s requests because we feel like it’s boring to get them what they’ve asked for or we want to get them something unexpectedly spectacular. If you’re unsure of what to get somebody, you can ask them!
2. WHAT’S THE OCCASION?
This one can change the dynamic of your gift ideas completely. A gift for a baby shower and a present for your friends birthday are likely to be very different. Think about suitable gifts for an occasion, we’ve listed some of the most popular below:
This is a couple’s present, usually a gift for their new home, or money towards travelling or a honeymoon. This one is made easier by the fact that newlyweds usually send out a wish list so you can just pick something from there. Depending on how close you are to the bride and groom, you may want to get them something extra special.
Baby shower gifts are often for the baby, not the mother. But if you think outside the box, you could get a gift that can be shared by both. Think about memory books, or baby’s first shoes; things that will last a bit longer than newborn baby clothes.
This is largely dependant on age, gender and the person’s interests. Think about some of the best birthday gifts you’ve received. Why did you like them so much? Try not to be too stereotypical about it, instead, think about things they’ve mentioned that they like: music, films, clothing or beauty are good places to start.
If it’s someone a bit older think about practical treats, things they might not buy themselves. Fancy homewares and kitchenware products, home furnishings or candles.
3. HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE PERSON?
If you’re buying for a new friend or partner, it might be hard to find something personal. The same goes if it’s a colleague. If you get them a humorous gift and misjudge your relationship, it can backfire.
If it’s someone you don’t know entirely well but you’re in a position to buy them a gift, say for Secret Santa. It makes sense to go with a gift card, mug or something generic that won’t cause any offence.
Think about their personality, or get an idea of what other people think of them, just make sure they say something positive.
If you know the person really well it’s easy to go back and think about hints they’ve been dropping, or just start the conversation on what they are interested in and go from there!
4. WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
Budget is another crucial factor when selecting a gift. This one relates closely to who you are buying for. A work secret Santa budget is likely to be much lower than the money set aside for your mum’s birthday.
It makes sense to make a note of all the important birthdays and events in a handy diary so that you can plan your budget accordingly. That way you aren’t surprised and have plenty of time to plan ahead!
As much as it may sound harsh, at Christmas, you may need to rank you recipients in order of importance, then assign a portion of your total budget to each one. If you have a big group of friends or lots of siblings try doing a secret Santa with them so that you all get a present without breaking the bank.
For other occasions only spend what you can afford, often people are much happier to have you be there for a birthday meal or night out than actually buying a physical gift.
If your budget can’t stretch don’t push it, there are plenty of well-priced items that can still be special. Take a look at this handy table which should give you some inspiration –
5. WHAT ARE THE PERSON’S LIKES & DISLIKES?
This part is where you really start to figure out what will be the perfect gift. If you have your handy diary the occasion won’t creep up on you, so you have some time beforehand to do a bit of digging. Ask them about their music taste or what films they like. Find out what their plans are for their birthday, and if there’s something you could buy that would enhance the celebrations.
If they say they are going on holiday, for example, some currency from that country in a nice card would be perfect! It shows you’re listening, and it means they can treat themselves while they’re away.
Tickets to a musical event are also a nice surprise or a new showing of a film you think they might like. Experience gifts are sometimes cheaper than material things, and can often make better memories.
You wouldn’t buy a shiny new matching dinner set for your teenage nephew who lives with his parents. Be logical about it, and use the internet to guide you if you’re struggling for ideas.
Google will track the things you search and throw recommendations your way of items related to that topic. So if you know the recipient likes trainers and have a search for them on Google, it will store that information and use it to send trainer adverts in your direction.
This can be helpful but remember just because it’s being advertised to you doesn’t mean it’s right. Make an informed decision based on everything we discuss in this guide.
If you’re buying for your 15-year-old niece, visit her Instagram page and see what clothing brands she likes or what makeup she’s posting photos of. The best gifts are ones that are thought out and unexpectedly amazing.
Let’s list a few personality types and hobbies then see what gifts would be perfect for them:
Dads are easy to buy for, they’re usually satisfied with very little, which definitely plays in your favour. This dad might like a subscription to a golf or fishing magazine. That’s a gift that keeps on giving as he will get a new mag to read every month.
Perhaps tickets to a new movie so that you and he can spend some quality bonding time together. If there’s nothing in the cinema, set aside a date and get him a gift card so you can go to the movies when the next big action film is out!
If the bands she likes aren’t on tour, you can check if they’re playing at any upcoming festivals!
Failing that, most established bands or singers will have a merchandise shop. Take a look online and see if you can’t get them a treat to pay homage to their favourite singer!
Just be careful, just because somebody likes Harry Styles when they’re ten, they may not when they’re 16.
If she always seems to be on her phone then that’s another gift avenue. Take a look at phone accessories like cute cases and a portable charger, these are so useful.
Remember gifts for girls don’t always have to be bath bubbles and moisturiser. Most of the time they’re already stocked up on that stuff, and if you don’t know what brands they like it’s pointless.
Try thinking of things she will actually use and she will be much more grateful, nobody wants tonnes of body products they won’t touch.
Even though mum likes cooking, she may be a little offended if you get her a pan and a wooden spoon as a gift. Try thinking of things that are useful in the kitchen, fancier pieces she can use at dinner parties.
Another thing you can take from her love of spas is that she loves a bit of time to relax.
Candles are the perfect gift for a mum who sometimes needs to be reminded to slow down and have a hot soak in the tub. Some fancy bubbles or a scented candle would do the trick or even treat her to a spa day that you can join. That means quality time, memories and you get a treat too!
6. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO BUY THE GIFT?
Now you have whittled down a few ideas it’s time to find the best places to purchase. For inspiration for mum, wife, or sister visit the shop page of the Verano website.
Buying online makes things much simpler. You can order it directly to work so they never see it hanging around the house (if you live together of course).
Next day delivery is also a godsend if you’re a last-minute buyer, think about investing in it to be sure your presents come within enough time to be wrapped and presented.
There’s always the possibility of buying them a gift while they’re with you. It’s a hard one to pull off, but if you’re out and they say they like something, take note, then swoop back and buy it without them realising. That will be an extra surprise and shows that you listen to what they say!
7. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PACKAGE & DELIVER THE GIFT
If you didn’t decide to get it gift wrapped ‘a la love actually’ you will have to do some wrapping of your own. Paperchase has a huge range of lovely wrapping paper. But remember at the end of the day they’re literally going to rip it in half so consider going with the cheap stuff. It’s what’s inside that counts!
If you’re posting your gift in the mail, consider how long you need to give for it to get there. Christmas is always a busy time for sending gifts.
You should also consider the contents of what you’re sending. If it’s fragile you’ll have to buy extra wrapping protection or if it’s valuable you may need to pay for special delivery; which can affect your budget.
If you are terrible at wrapping, fear not. There are plenty of youtube tutorials that show you the best ways to wrap a gift. Failing that pick a nice gift bag and they won’t be too fussed about your inability to use sellotape.
8. CONSIDER WHO’LL BE THERE
Presenting a gift can be a tense scenario. If it’s Christmas, you might think you can sneak past a bad gift without anyone noticing, but you could be wrong.
The whole family will be sat eagerly watching as your husband opens yet another ill-fitting, itchy woollen sweater just when he thought he had lost the one you bought last year.
If you’re not fully confident in the gift you can always sneak the receipt in or ask them to open it when you aren’t around to save you the pain.
Present your gift with confidence and if the recipient seems hesitant, reassure them they don’t have to love it and can change it if they want.
9. LAST RESORTS — WHEN YOU STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO BUY
Finally, we have included a handy last resort gift ideas section. Just in case there’s someone who’s completely and utterly impossible to buy for — we all know someone who doesn’t like anything!
FINALLY… DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT
If you’re really struggling with gift ideas even after reading this how-to-guide, it’s important not to lose sleep over the prospect of gift giving, whether it’s because of budget or ideas.
If the worst comes to the worst, just tell them that you’re struggling. I’m sure they would be more than happy to give you some ideas to keep you on track, rather that than have you spend money on something they don’t want.
Remember to stay calm and plan ahead! Particularly at Christmas, as daunting as it might be to get started, you’ll thank yourself later for being organised.