If the one you love is a big fan of de-icer, ignore what comes next. But if the one you love believes that a gift is an expression of your feeling for them, here are a few things to start thinking about to avoid a last-gasp visit to your nearest 24-hour petrol station.
It used to be that a gift was all about fulfilling desire, the element of off the wall surprise and the unexpected thrill of a gift ambush, but times have changed.
In a world where we are all seeking to conserve, repurpose, and minimise waste, the question of whether something is truly needed is super important. You just don’t want to give something that will kick off a re-gifting process. Your gift will be far more appreciated if it fulfils an identified need in the receiver’s life. This doesn’t have to mean run of the mill items like deodorant or toothpaste, but could be something that you know they need, perhaps some lovely wine glasses for all those parties you hope they will invite you to.
So maybe it’s just you who always seems to break wine glasses and be in constant need of more, or maybe they are teetotal and only require tumblers. You certainly need to put yourself in their shoes when selecting the ideal gift. Just because you have always wanted a cider press, it’s not much good as a gift if your giftee doesn’t like apples. So, think about their hobbies, what brings them joy, how they spend their time. Perhaps something for their camping trips, or a gizmo for their bike, or something to help them unwind from their stressed life.
I have received many gifts, for which I am profoundly grateful, but many have languished in a cupboard or drawer. Clothing in general is one of the worst offenders here as we all have such different tastes, and it takes someone of exceptional insight and taste to predict what will be truly appreciated. So, make sure you buy with them in mind, and not you.
I have in the past given a microfinance loan as a gift to a teenager. I believed that helping someone start a business in a third world country, giving the option to the hapless teenager to choose the project, and after a year re-loan or reclaim the funds seemed like a perfect and super thoughtful gift. But I wasn’t thinking about who I was buying for, and they would probably have got far more out of the cash itself.
And on the subject of money, people are very squeamish about this, precisely as they feel it is thoughtless, but when you know that it’s what is wanted, for teenagers or wedding couples, it could be the most thoughtful present you can give.
A thoughtful gift means you are thinking of the person you are giving it to you know they love roses, so you buy a rose scented candle; you know they love treatments, so you buy them a massage; you know they love to travel, so you buy them a mini break.
So, the minibreak may be very well received but think what the expectation will be when it’s your turn to get a gift. This escalation of gift giving can present a massive problem, particularly in big families where some sort of parity of giving is required but when almost certainly there will be someone who always goes for broke. Is it generosity or is it grandstanding? Either way, my advice here is to agree a standard at the outset so nobody massively oversteps the mark creates an awkward situation or an obligation on others.
Provenance and transparency of sourcing is top of the list for a truly exceptional gift. Nobody wants to be supporting poor working conditions, child labour, deforestation, or any of the bad practices that currently afflict our planet.
Fortunately, it is now becoming far more commonplace, certainly for the smaller brands, to give insight into where their raw materials come from, where things are made, and even the finer details of transportation. It certainly does add an extra dimension to a gift if you and the receiver know that at the very least no harm has been done, but at the very best, you are supporting a worthwhile endeavour as well as paying fair wages, supporting gainful employment, and spreading joy with your generosity.
This is a particular danger if you are buying items such as books, anything that is very of the moment (think polar bear ice trays) or even something utilitarian like a lemon press. This one is hard to gauge and might require a bit of detective work, but the effort will be worth it when you discover that you have chosen the perfect present, or that they already have three of them.
Personalisation could give you the edge here – an engraved pen to help in the new job they’ve just started, some chocolates with a picture of your holiday together printed on them, or something you have made for just them, which will always be the most original gift.
The best gift for people who don’t want to accumulate “things” or who are in full-on declutter mode. Personally, I think that all consumables make a wonderful gift, but you definitely need to know their tastes: don’t get spicy if they don’t like spice; don’t get alcohol if they don’t drink; be cautious of the wild and wacky or obscure products that are fun but possibly not consumable (think avocado tea), and certainly don’t give them gifts that have been too obviously given to you or God forbid are beyond their sell by date. I say this as someone who was given a box of “Winter chocolates” in June!
First of all, if you give someone something that smells nice, it doesn’t mean that they don’t!
It is important, however, much like with food, drink, jewellery, art, or anything that involves personal taste, that you know that they love lavender, or really enjoy gin and tonic scented bubble bath. Again, call it detective work or call it thoughtfulness but you do need to understand who you are buying for and what will make them happy. If you have friends who are either allergic to or intolerant of perfume, you could find an alternative gift such as a Perfino natural scent jewellery set, so they can smell great without putting any of those pesky chemicals on their skin.
Packaging and the delight of unboxing is universal so never skimp on this. Everyone loves to undo a ribbon, rip through the tissue paper, and lift the lid off a box. So, make sure that the experience starts with the packaging. Even if what’s inside does not hit the mark you will have scored points here, and this is not so very hard to get right. So, take the opportunity to add that extra special moment to the gift you have chosen.
Unless specifically requested (or strongly hinted at), sexy underwear or perfume is a bit of a cliché – it can convey a complete absence of understanding or thoughtfulness akin to a gift of an ironing board or a kettle. In certain circumstances, money or gift vouchers also show an absence of imagination.
Above all whatever you choose as a gift, should demonstrate that you have put some thought into understanding what the person you are buying for likes, enjoys, and/or does not currently have in their lives.
Kim Brookes is the founder of Perfino, an innovative natural scent jewellery brand. Perfino combines expertly blended, 100% natural, pure essential oils with exquisite jewellery so you can wear scent all day long without any chemicals touching your skin. The solid recycled silver and 18ct gold vermeil, artisan designed pendant comes with six lava stones and 10ml of carefully blended natural essential oils – all sourced from sustainable growers. One drop of oil on the stone in the pendant will give you a delicate fragrance that can last for days.
Visit Kim's website Perfino here
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