They may not be the most original choices, but there are some presents out there that will definitely put a smile on people’s faces. Sometimes it means doing a bit of research into what sort of people they are, sometimes you need to have a finger on the pulse of whatever’s popular at the moment. Birthdays and holidays can naturally come with a lot of stress, so it should be no surprise that a good way to help put a genuine smile on the receiver’s face is put in a little elbow grease and get them something that they really want.
In one sense, gift cards deserve a lot of the criticism they get. It definitely screams last minute and not putting in a heck of a lot of effort, but their usefulness just cannot be denied. You don’t have to know much about the recipient, just one or two of their main hobbies, and suddenly you can get the proper card or certificate (or these days, an email with a redemption code for however much you want to spend on them). The internet has made it easier than ever for every sort of store or business to accept this sort of payment, so no matter how niche their interests, there is a way to give them money that they can only spend at this particular art, camping, or clothing store. Many older businesses are waking up to this as well. Chances are good that there will be an old London store with an escort for shopping for antiques that has great reviews, and now offer gift cards.
This is also a great choice if you are buying for someone in a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa situation, and you don’t know a thing about them. In this case, you don’t even need a store specific gift card, and can just get one for Amazon or eBay. There are so many products available at these warehouses (or in eBay’s case, random people’s homes) that every person can find something they want and order it at the drop of a hat.
Just Ask Them What They Want
If gift cards are criticized for being too general, then it makes sense that this option would be complained about for being too specific. While you will definitely lose a sense of surprise if you get the person exactly what they are looking for, you will also avoid the disappointment that might come by getting something almost what they are looking for. Maybe they are looking for an exact tool that will compliment their entire set, and getting anything but that one will end up sticking out like a sore thumb and have them give a heavy sigh when they look at it.
The trick is then to have a friend or relative ask in a roundabout way just the sort of thing that this person wants, and have it reported back to you. It is in this way that ‘asking’ is the exact opposite of gift cards, because instead of just getting a random amount of cash for a certain store and sending it off, you are putting in plenty of effort. First to find out what they want, and then looking for it. If it’s a popular gift item, then the challenge is to find it in stock, either online or in-store. If it’s a rare item or an antique, then your road is even harder, because there might not be many places at all to find it, and it might not be cheap.
That’s why you shouldn’t feel guilty by skipping the guess-work and finding out their dream present right away. It might take more work than you realize, and the look of excitement on their face when they open it will definitely be genuine.
The Actual Items That People Need
The third class of gifts are perhaps the least showy, which for many people, might immediately suggest they make poor gifts. By not giving a gift card or asking what the receiver would like, you have taken the role of giving a specific item that you think they would want. This can certainly be daunting, but there are some things that everyone uses and uses up that they could use more of.
No one likes to think much about toiletries on a birthday or holiday, but they are definitely things you need, and there are plenty of fancy ones about. During Christmastime they are usually relegated to being stocking stuffers, but if you know the person well enough to at least make one visit to their bathroom, you can see which brands they prefer, and make an informed purchase based on that.
Kitchen appliances can be a bit tougher, since not everyone enjoys cooking, even though preparing food is something all of us have to do (and if you have someone who only orders out, then a gift card to a food delivery service would be a fine idea). Unless you know what they enjoy cooking, you can skip the fancy and specific blenders and a sous-vide set up. A good affordable choice that people don’t think about is a rice cooker. Yes, it doesn’t take much to prepare rice on the stove, but doing it this way is ever easier, requires less attention, and is ready quickly. The other great choice is anything coffee related, because whether or not they enjoy taking it black, or with heaps or cream or sugar, you need to have these beans ground and filtered through somehow. If you want to impress, a small espresso machine is in order, but there are plenty of single shot coffee makers that don’t take up much space and are very aesthetically pleasing. A package of coffee beans would also be a sensible choice, especially if you know they already have all the gear they need.