Right Your Holiday Gift-Giving Wrongs

December 21, 2015

Right Your Holiday Gift-Giving Wrongs

Buying great gifts for everyone on your holiday list is often a matter of what not to do. To set yourself up for shopping success, here are five rookie mistakes to avoid this season and beyond, courtesy of Lindsay Roberts, founder of The Gift Insider.

Mistake #1: Thinking About What You Want, Not What They Want

Just because you like what you’re considering buying doesn’t mean your gift recipient will, so don’t use yourself as the barometer. Instead, “Listen closely to the people in your life,” Roberts says. “Many will unintentionally mention things they really want or need, or may drop subtle hints about what they’re really hoping for.” If no clues come your way, think about the person’s hobbies. Roberts asserts that there are hundreds of gifts associated with even the most obscure hobbies and tastes. For the foodie DIYer, for example, how about something fun but unusual, such as a beer making kit or a cast-iron tortilla press? You get the idea.

Mistake #2: Trying to Find the Perfect Gift for Everyone

Those in your immediate family and close friends warrant the time and thought it takes to come up with just the right thing. But that doesn’t mean you should rack your brain for everyone on your list. In fact, depending on the circumstances, that strategy could backfire. In the workplace, for example, giving everyone something different could invite comparison and show perceived favoritism. “With co-workers, it’s a good idea to buy everyone the same bulk, go-to gift,” Roberts says. She suggests, for example, selecting the same brand of notebook, in different colors but from the same brand and store, such as the Eccolo Wrap Journal, which comes in black, tan, and green.

Mistake #3: Shopping With a Posse

Sure, shopping can be a fun way to bond with your family or friends, but when you need to make some headway on your gift-giving list, solo is the way to go. According to Roberts, when you shop with your spouse or your kids, you’re more likely to spend more time and money. “Shop alone. You’ll be more productive because you can focus on the task at hand,” she says.

Mistake #4: Setting the Bar Too High

Shopping for a holiday gift for a new boyfriend or girlfriend can be tricky. Giving a modest gift can be misinterpreted as lack of interest or reflect poorly on you. On the other hand, giving an extravagant gift so soon into the relationship can establish future expectations. If your relationship continues, you may feel the need to match or top the level of your holiday gift on Valentine’s Day, your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s birthday, and so on. The solution for the first gifting opportunity? “Give something you can do together,” says Roberts. Consider buying tickets to a concert, a comedy show, or a local theater production, or a certificate for a couples’ cooking class.

Mistake #5: Shopping Last Minute

It’s too stressful to shop with a looming deadline. Consequently, the gifts you choose on December 23 or 24 are apt to look like impulse buys and leave recipients feeling empty. A better idea is to build some sanity into your schedule. Try to get all of your shopping done by the second week of December, if possible.

All told, tweaking your holiday shopping techniques can help you wrap up the holiday season feeling that you bought the most appropriate presents for everyone on your list—and that’s a gift unto itself.

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