Now that it’s officially the Christmas season, people have been asking for my gifting advice. I love gifting, so I’m happy to help — but I realized that before I give any specific ideas, I must first share my gifting rules!
Rule #23: Thou shalt spoil on birthdays and Valentine’s Day. Since birthdays are all about having a great day, I recommend experience gifts. I think the best birthday gifts are tickets to concerts or shows, or going to do some fun activity that your giftee will love. I always keep on eye on Groupon for experience gift ideas — even if the birthday is too far away to buy the Groupon now, I often get ideas that I can bookmark for later. I also think mini-trips (or major trips, if you’re rolling in cash) are great for birthdays. I think a weekend getaway is the perfect birthday gift.
If you can’t do an experience gift, I think birthday gifts should be luxurious or even frivolous — something the person wouldn’t buy him or herself. Expensive make-up or perfume/cologne, cool vintage jewelry or nice sunglasses — the kind of thing that is so that person but also has an element of fun or “I’ve wanted this but couldn’t justify buying it for myself!” Bottom line: it should feel special.
Also, Caitlin from The Twenty-Fifth Year does birthdays really well. Check out her post on it — I love how she does gifts!
Rule #24: Thou shalt use gold and silver to mark major milestones. While I love gifting and receiving things like classic jewelry, decadent home goods (like amazing but pricey candlesticks), and — for guys — watches and cuff links, I think these are greats gift for big events: graduation, passing the bar exam, getting engaged, etc. For these events, like birthdays, you want it to feel special and kind of over-the-top, and it also doesn’t need to be something practical that the person will use every day. And since usually milestones come with moving on to a new stage of life, I like a gift that can reflect that transition.
Rule #25: When it comes to Christmas, this is your equation: (Seriously Useful x Technologically Advanced x So Them) + A Little Surprising = Magical. Much to my disappointment, most of the people in my life are hard to shop for. It’s not that they don’t like getting gifts…they just simply aren’t as materialistic as I am. For these people — and all people, really — I start with useful. Everyone has needs, right? And the hard-to-shop-for are usually happiest with something they’ll actually use. But I can’t be happy just giving a totally practical gift, so I put my efforts into finding something just a little bit sexier. That’s why I like kitchen gadgets as gifts — they really can make someone’s life easier, and I know she might just not know about that herb mincer or milk vibrator that could totally change her life. And if they aren’t a cook, this equation still applies. Last year I gave my mom — who is so hard to shop for — a new cell phone and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever given and that she has ever received. And this year, my perfect gift is a Kindle or a sweet grill. Seriously useful, so me, and a little sexy.
This equation works great for male gifting. Things like ipods, nice kitchen knives, tools, or a remote car starter are things that they will love and use and often fall under the category of “everything you never knew you always wanted” — which is my main goal with gifting.
Another really good useful but surprising gift? Amazing sheets and pillows. I mean, how much thought do we really put into our pillows? People don’t usually splurge on this for themselves, but really, it’s a pretty important item in our lives.
I think Christmas gifts should be something that can be used throughout the year, so I also recommend keeping this equation in mind and looking for subscription gifts. Subscriptions to Netflix or Sirus radio can make a perfect gift!
Rule #26: Feed those don’t know well but still love. I love food gifts, and I think they are perfect for people like in-laws, relatives you don’t see very often, or even your boss. They are also great for knocking out a whole family — instead of getting your aunt, uncle, and cousins separate gifts, just get them all one big food gift! As long as you know the basics of their diet, you’re all set.
Rule #27: Stuff stockings with the most practical things. I love how my mom does our family’s stockings — they are packed with things like razor blades, tampons, big containers of nuts, socks, batteries, and gift cards to Subway or Starbucks. These are things you will always use but never feel like buying. I’m not opposed to very practical gifts, but put those things that aren’t Technologically Advanced + A Little Surprising in the stocking. They should never be the gift.
With those rules in mind, I’ll share some gift ideas next week! Any other gifting rules you have to add to these?