Some people are great at getting exactly the right thing and at a good price, too; for those of us who panic-buy a bottle of wine at the last minute, it might help to think of gift shopping from a different perspective.
Usually, picking stuff out for someone means trying to remember what they like and what the already have, then filling in the gaps. Instead, try categorising your friends and family with these gift-giving philosophies, says Quartz. They’ve defined these categories in four groups; you can look for what your personal preference is, as a gift-receiver, but also figure out what kind of gift someone else would enjoy getting.
The Bare Bones Gift
This is a gift someone has literally just asked for. They know what it is, you know what it is, and everyone is happy. Some people like to be surprised, of course. More rudely, some people insist on doing the surprising. But for the folks who enjoy getting a utilitarian or straightforward present that exactly fulfils their needs, just ask. It’ll be one less thing to stress about.
A Gift Of Luxury
This philosophy is predicated on the idea that luxury is the “gift that no one needs,” something decadent and ridiculous that you would never buy yourself. Quartz shared writer Sarah Todd’s reflection on receiving a really fancy candle that turned her in a candle-buying and -gifting convert:
“When you give someone a candle, you’re passing along the gift of ritual. Striking a match and lighting a tiny, pleasant fire in your home means committing to the idea that everyday life can be an occasion worth celebrating.”
Personally, when someone gives me a candle, it seems like they’re saying I have to enjoy the smell they chose. But there are definitely people in your life who enjoy certain luxuries they don’t regularly indulge in—fine chocolate, a scalp massage, a good cigar. A bottle of wine ... dang, fell into the wine trap again.
The Gift Of Your Presence
These are gifts you share together, like a pasta-making class, or some other event that means building memories. This is great for people who are minimalists in their home, picky in their taste, and fun to spend time with. Even taking someone out to dinner at a more upscale restaurant than you usually go to might fit the bill. Especially if you split the bill; the gift there is just allowing one another to indulge for a night.
The Gift Of Praise
This is both a gift that will likely be treasured and one that is fairly low cost. Just pile on praise, love, and kind observances in the form of a letter, as recommended by Quartz reporter Leah Fessler:
Leah Fessler has made such an art of it that her friends and family call her handwritten, freestyle odes “Leah letters.” Leah’s practice involves covering a sheet of paper “with sentiments I often think about this person—while we’re laughing over dumb TV, texting aimlessly, or sharing a good cry—but rarely say aloud,” as well as asking herself a series of questions about her subject.
Fessler shared her process as a guideline, if you’re not good at doling out compliments. Think about what you’d like someone to know you feel and share it. Tis the season, after all.
A Handcrafted Gift
The holidays are about cookies for a reason. They’re a great gift that’s low cost, luxurious, and can be shared together. Homemade cookies really cover a lot of the philosophies. And if you’re not much of a baker, there are other simple at-home crafts that can be made in bulk and handed out to lots of folks on your nice list—sugar scrubs, bookmarks, custom-madae t-shirts, whatever. Consider your crafting wheelhouse and start your DIY Santa’s workshop today.
An edible gift can make someone feel loved in the way only delicious, homemade food can. They also leave no clutter behind, providing a welcome break from the sea of compulsively purchased consumer goods that's become synonymous with the holiday season. In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan.