Monday, March 31, 2008

Gift Giving Guide

Wouldn’t it be great to have all your holiday shopping completed by the end of Thanksgiving?

Obviously it’s too late for that deadline. But if you start today, you can still get done in plenty of time and be on your way to enjoying a stress-free holiday season.

I love giving presents. In fact, I enjoy the whole process from picking a present to packaging and the actual delivery. But not everyone feels the same way. Over the years I have observed different patterns of behaviors among friends and family when it comes to gift giving for the holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.

gift giving

Here are four categories of gift-givers I have noticed:

1. Settlers.

This group struggles with the idea of what to get, and usually settles for the first thing they see. Their primary focus is to just to get the “chore” of gift giving out of the way.

2. Exchangers.

These people typically spend money on useless things, with the idea that if the receiver does not like the present, he or she will exchange it for something else. Exchangers usually buy their gifts in department stores and include a gift receipt to make it easy to return the item.

3.Don’t ask, don’t tellers.

These people buy presents that are not returnable. Then they package the present so that you would never know where it was purchased and would be too embarrassed to ask. Often, the present either goes to someone else you don’t really care about or ends up in your storage (a definite no-no!).


Some people get so fed up with the process that they say, “To hell with it!” and stop giving gifts all together.

What do all four groups have in common? They all view gift giving as an unpleasant and distasteful task. However, if you fall into one on these categories, let me assure you that gift giving need not be a difficult process if it’s thought out and planned ahead.

Get Organized!

The biggest problem for most gift givers is the dilemma of the unknown -- we don’t know what to get for our loved ones. The following tips can help you choose the right gift each and every time:

•Pay attention to the details. If you’re out shopping with a friend, notice the kinds of things she picks out for herself. This will give you some good ideas on what to get for the next present.

•Make it personal. Most of us are busy and stressed out from our daily activities. A gift certificate to the spa for a massage, pedicure or manicure is an easy and welcome gift.

•Be in tune with what’s happening to the people around you. If a friend is going through some hardships and needs a “pick me up,” an inspirational CD, DVD or book makes an excellent gift. Or, if someone has an interest in a hobby, craft or artistic endeavor but can’t seem to get started, the gift of a private lesson may be just what they need to kick their creativity into gear.

My favorite gift is a gift basket, and I don’t mean the kind with lumpy cheese and stale crackers. It’s easy to put together a custom-made basket of goodies for your loved ones. All you have to do is buy the items and take them to a specialty store, where they will assemble the basket for you. If you don’t have time to shop, you can order a basket by picking and choosing the items you like.

My favorite store is Adels II, in Encino California, where everything in the store is personalized. They have items for every age, price and category, so you can’t go wrong. Most of us feel very special when we open a box to find our name or initials engraved on the present.

Another hit item is family photos that are framed or in the form of a calendar. These inexpensive gifts can be done at Kinkos or any other print shop. You can also do them online. To make the gift really memorable, arrange a private sitting with a photographer and have your photograph printed on canvas. It will look like a painted masterpiece and will be cherished for years to come.

To get organized and remain focused:

a) Make a list of everyone that you would like to give a gift to.

b) Set a budget. Whether it costs $5 or $500, each gift has to be just as special (believe me, it can be).

c) Set a date by when this gift has to be purchased.

d) Visualize how it will be packaged and sent or delivered.

e) Place a checkmark by each person’s name when their gift has been purchased. Place a second checkmark when the gift has been wrapped.

f) Review your list to see whether you have to deliver or send each gift. Not until the gift is sent or delivered can you cross the name off the list.

Finally, think how you would feel about receiving the gift. A beautifully packaged $5 Starbucks gift card with a warm greeting card will be more appreciated than a useless gift that never gets used.

When you put thought, time and love into your gift giving process, the person receiving the gift feels special and appreciated. After all, isn’t that why we give gifts in the first place?


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