A Step-by-Step Gift-Giving Guide for the Guy Who Has Everything
Visualize the Person You Are Shopping For
I've created a step-by-step guide for figuring out exactly what to get the guy who has everything. Let's get started!
Create a Mental Image of the Guy
Tall, confident, successful, middle-aged, in his prime, and single. It was soon to be John’s birthday, and I was asked by our friendship circle to find him a gift from the group. I wanted it to be a great gift for this wonderful person, but what might that be? A methodical approach would be needed.
Of course, being an experienced project manager, I naturally gravitate toward converting little things into projects and applying method and process to obscure tasks (these are the perils of the trade). I will relate the method I applied, with great success, because the same method can serve splendidly in any situation in which the receiver falls in the category of 'a guy who has everything'.
Tip: Most people like some kind of art.
Step 1: Define the Framework for Choice
How Do I Begin the Process of Choosing?
Here is my advice, indeed my story, on how to do this. I tried to determine the type of gift that would bring pleasure to this person. Make a list of the top five or six types of gifts which come to mind when you think of this person e.g.—art or craft, desk implement, technology device, book—while envisioning the type of person he is.
Since I had two days to deliver, I could take the time to do this. To determine type of gift specifically for John, I mulled over the following questions related to his personality. These are general questions which are not only applicable to my guy but to yours also.
- What is his lifestyle? What are his significant lifestyle influences—technology, sports, cars, knowledge . . . ?
- What are his views? Does he have strong views about controversial subjects—religion, politics, nationality, masculinity, etc.? Whereas I don’t know John to hold dogmatic views, I do know that he has a strong nationalistic empathy for local products of quality. This observation became useful in a final choice between two items.
- Buy something useful or personal? Should the gift be a personal item or a utilitarian one such as one for house beautiful or car care? I decided that it should be personal. I prefer to receive personal gifts for my birthday and I recall my sister expressing this preference on more than one occasions, so I decided that a personal gift would be the preferred approach.
- What are his passions? Since I know John very well the next question I asked myself was—what does he like to do, to talk about, or to engage in? John enjoys his life as a teacher and communicator. He also enjoys having beautiful objects in his work and living spaces. Whereas another man’s interests may include being a technology buff, a gamer, or he may like to fish or even be a fitness enthusiast, these are not John’s touchpoints.
- What brings him joy? Are there moments that I can recall which stimulated in him deep joyful or hilarious happy? What might have been the source of that joy? This is probably the most powerful of all the questions but it is also likely to be the most illusory. However if one can find a gift that’s representative in some way of the characteristic which brings a feeling of joy and happiness, then one is sure to have a winner. I knew that John takes immense pleasure from the passion, the energy, the spirit of the youth in the community, and when they shine he sparkles. It would therefore be wonderful to find a gift that characterizes in some way the spirit and energy of youth.
Step 2: Set the Budget
Deciding the Price Range
My final question to the group was—what is the budget? In my case, a budget limit was determined. I would make the purchase on my credit card and be reimbursed later. However, in the case of a personal purchase—i.e. you are giving the gift to this special guy - it is important to decide at this point the upper and lower limits of your expenditure. The lower limit is important because it connotes value. I truly believe in the maxim “You get what you pay for”.
There is, however, the reasonable exception to items that are deeply discounted for quick sale. (When I buy discounted items I observe the initial price to get a perspective of the value.) The upper limit, of course, sets the maximum expenditure and this determination is important because it is usually an indication of one’s capacity to afford.
Step 3: Short-Listing the Gift
How I Short-listed the Gift Categories
Having asked and answered these questions I created a list of the top five categories that would guide my search.
- A fountain pen, significant brand name, attractive, manly, engraved with his name
- A small item of art (preferably a sculpture) from a local artist. I thought of a piece for placement either on his desk at work or in an art corner at home.
- A usable craft item. This selection was influenced by my knowledge of the market for local craft.
- A leather carrying case for everyday items such as pens, cell phone, notepad, business cards, wallet. John is notably organised and so an item to support that attribute is in order.
- A beautiful and outstanding picture frame, carved by a local artist. John often talks about his mother who passed some years ago. Placing her photo in a thing of beauty should be heartwarming for him.
It is important to limit the scope, otherwise, the search could become unmanageable and frustrating. This list serves that purpose. One wants to enjoy the process, not to be aged by it.
Step 4: Shop
My Simple Shopping Strategy
Before setting out I determine the shops and shopping areas to visit and the order in which to visit them. I prepared my cell phone to take photos for later comparisons.
The strategy was to select from each category no more than the two items that most fitted the criteria and that were within budget. It would also be OK if none were selected as was the case for the last two categories. I took photographs of the items. A few are shown here. At the end of the short-listing exercise, I had eight items to choose from. It should have been six at most but ‘usable craft’ covers such a wide variety of items that I found it useful to be more liberal in this category.
Because this was a gift from a friendship group I decided to send the photos to each person in the group asking them to select an item or to deselect items. I gave them a time frame in which to reply because I needed to purchase the gift that very evening. One has to be careful in using this kind of inclusion strategy because it is possible that each person may have a different selection. However, I made it clear to all that I would be the final decider.
Step 5: The Result
Success! The result was a hit. A day after receiving his birthday gift, delivered by one of the friends, including a gift card signed by all, John called me to express his thrill, adding “I can easily tell that you are the one who made the choice”. I smiled contentedly.
Finally: The Reveal
So What Was the Gift?
Bookends representing two matching (intentionally comical) sculptures, one of a boy and the other a girl reading books almost as large as themselves, created by a local artisan. Very cute indeed. John happily shows them off and the team is delighted to have given a successful gift.
And so buying a great gift for a guy who has everything, takes thought and method, but the process, like the outcome, can and should be enjoyed. I am looking forward to do it again soon.