Tips for Finding the Right Present for Someone
Finding a present is not always the easiest thing. For some of our friends or family, we want to find something really special, but how do we do that?
I believe that there are two main aspects to present hunting: defining the receiver and context of the present, and broadening the search horizon enough. In this article, I will go into more detail about what I mean by this. Hopefully, this way I can help you find your perfect present, or at least a place to start.
Defining the Person and the Party
When you start looking, it is wise to already have a concrete idea of what you are looking for. Therefore, it is important to define for yourself what type of a person the receiver of your gift is and what the occasion expects of you.
Indeed, you want to be the gift giving god of the party and you cannot do that if you buy just anything that vaguely fits. You want to tailor your present well and not just give something that loosely fits, because just like with clothing "fitted" feels more special. So, take out a notebook and lets take some notes that allow you to open up the right pathways to "perfect".
1. Define Their Personality
First of all, you, of course, want to define the personality of the person you are buying a gift for. This means writing down what they like, what their hobbies are, what they don't want, which countries they like, which music genres or decor styles they appreciate, what they have studied, etc. For some people this might be easy, but for others, attempting to define their loved one keeps them stuck with a superficial list of characteristics that they have already exploited often during previous gift-giving occasions. For these people, I have the following questions to think about:
- How would your loved one stereotype themselves?
- What does your loved one complain about a lot?
- When was your loved one truly happy?
- Why does your loved one do something that seems unnecessary to you?
- What does your loved one do a lot out of his or her free will?
Ponder these questions and write down the first things that come into your head. If you feel like this did not give you a lot of new ideas to work with yet, don't worry. There are other defining features that can lead to a good present idea as well.
2. Define Their Situation in Life
The first of these is defining the person's current situation in life. It is important to consider this, even if you believe you think you already have a good picture of your receiver, because the definition of the person you have just made could include some gift-giving paths that on second thought are not as advisable as they might have seemed at first thought. Your receiver might, for instance, have always talked about their passion for wine, but if they just had alcohol poisoning, giving them an expensive old bottle might not be the best idea. Alternatively, this angle to your present receivers life, might give you a new interesting angle to find additional present options. Consider the following questions:
- Is the person going through a change in their career or love life?
- Is the person's health as it once was?
- Does the person have loved ones who dislike or are worried about an interest of the person in question?
If you already had a list of possible routes for your present, reconsider those with these questions in mind. If you did not have a list yet, think about these:
- Is the person embarking on a new adventure in the near future?
- Has the person been talking about a new interest or, conversely, problem in their lives?
- What is the person's position in life, materially, educationally, spiritually and professionally?
- Could the person use something, like a break, a wellness weekend, or even something practical like a dictionary?
You might find some new ideas pondering your answers. Another aspect that falls underneath the umbrella of the person's situation is age, but I would be weary of focusing too much on this aspect. While age can focus your search, people are often not definable by a number and you could be leaving out a lot of great ideas as a result. Furthermore, if someone can clearly feel that their present has been inspired by something arbitrary like age, they could feel stereotyped and they might feel that you don't know them that well or didn't want to put in the effort of finding a truly fitting present. It is not because grandma is grandma that she would appreciate knitting needles.
3. Define Your Relationship
A third angle you can take on the person is your relationship with him or her. This relationship can also be a fertile ground for ideas, as it often leads to presents that are drenched in personal meaning, which is never bad. Write down some key words that come up when you think about the following questions:
- How do you know each other?
- Have you ever done something together that wasn't demanded of you both from a third party?
- Do you have something in common that you (can) bond over?
Another set of questions under this header pertains to the level of intimacy between you and the person in question. It is important to look at this aspect of your relationship as well, because the thought you put into the idea should be proportionate to the strength of your bond. So...
- Do you see the person often?
- Does he or she know you well and do you know them well?
- Do you think of them often?
- Would you feel it if this person disappeared from your life?
4. Define the Occasion
Lastly, you should also define the occasion you are giving a present for. Is it a birthday, a wedding, a wedding anniversary or maybe a retirement gift? Indeed, after you have written down what you know about their personality, your relationship with the person and the point in his or her life, they are in, you should of course include some thoughts about the reason for your gift. You shouldn't give a "New Dad" cup to your retiring boss, for instance, except if you want to make a statement of course. If you want to avoid awkward situations, however, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the occasion I am giving a present for?
- What do people generally expect on such an occasion?
- Would they appreciate something untypical for the occasion or do they like traditional presents?
- What does the person think about the occasion?
5. Combine Your Definitions
After you have written down all your ideas, you can find the best paths by combining what you have written down. This might lead to crazy combinations, but just stick with them: they provide the most unique and relationship-defining presents. For your sister's college graduation party you might for instance think about combining the idea of starting adult life with her obsession with jazz and your shared love of a summer camp you both as children went to. There might be a jazz singer out there singing about adult life and looking back at memories of being a boy or girl's scout.
It might seem hard to combine different paths that your notes provide, especially because not every combination leads to a good idea. However, with the advice in the next part of this article, you should be able to find at least something for some combinations.
Broadening the Horizon
This advice is broaden your horizon! You will never find anything unique or especially suited if you get all your presents from the same neighbourhood store. Also, keep your mind open. "Gift stores" aren't the only places to find gifts. For some ideas a general grocery store can do. Moreover, for some ideas you do not have to go to a gift store at all.
Moreover, do not let yourself be limited by the thought that your present idea should be something you can find near to you in the neighbourhood. Find your idea first and then look at where you could get the item or parts of the present from.
1. Look Online
One way you can broaden your search horizon is by looking online for gift ideas. The obvious places to look online are of course shops like Amazon and eBay, and social media sites like Pinterest. There you can look into the categories and combine search words from your notes in the search bar to get lists of possible ideas. Once you click on a possible idea, moreover, you can also look at the "related" sections to click through till you find something you like. When you find something and you still have time, however, write the thing down in your notes and keep on looking. The first ideas might not be the best and if you have three or four good ideas, you have a variety of options to choose the best from.
However, the obvious sites aren't the only places online that could provide inspiration. Your receiver's Facebook, or your personal Facebook feed might give you ideas as well, especially since Facebook uses your information to tailor ads and news items to you anyway. On YouTube as well, you can find inspiration. Certain vloggers like the make videos full of gift ideas, which could inspire you, especially if the vlogger reminds you of your gift receiver. You don't have to buy or make anything they recommend, but some of the ideas might lead you to options you haven't thought about. Here you have an example:
2. Stay Alert
Lastly, you can broaden your horizon by just being more alert in daily life. Now that you have written down your possible paths to great presents, you should be more attuned to occurrences involving or mentions of these paths. If you have defined that a possible path is clothing that has something to do with birds and which is more wintery wear, because your receiver does not have a lot of winter clothing yet, you might pay more attention to the fashion magazines at the doctor’s office or the feather embroidery on colleagues' clothing.
© 2018 Douglas Redant