Gift giving is a joyful tradition that shows you care. The most thoughtful gifts are often the best. It makes a person feel special when that random thing they mentioned months back is revealed under the shiny wrapping. Choosing gifts for others is often more fun than receiving presents yourself. It can also get a little awkward…
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You know, like when you want to surprise someone with something great but have NO idea what to get. Or you get the wrong size. Or you buy the perfect gift that they already have (no wonder you thought they’d love it – it was in their room). They might tell you they love it, but you know them too well to be fooled by a fake smile.
Moments like these can be super embarrassing. A good friend won’t think twice if you get them the world’s worst gift despite your best intentions. Others might take it a little more personally. Gift giving is a fun gesture that shouldn’t be anything but. Here’s how to prepare for potentially awkward situations and stay in the holiday spirit.
When You Receive the Greatest Present – and Have Nothing to Give in Return
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It feels terrible when an acquaintance or co-worker gets you a gift and you didn’t even think about them. Skip the “I left yours at home” excuse and try this trick instead. At the beginning of the month, grab a couple of inexpensive backup gifts that anyone would enjoy. This can be a cute Starbucks gift card in a mug, a gift set from Sephora, a bag of mixed roasted nuts tied with ribbon or a soft knit sweater. Find something you know you would love as much as your mom and another friend would. This helps guarantee that the eventual recipient will love it too.
When Your Gift Doesn’t Measure Up
Imagine your BFF surprises you with two tickets to your dream concert and you hand over a wrapped bottle of scented lotion. You’d probably feel so awful. You wouldn’t stop scolding yourself for not splurging a bit to get that bag you knew they wanted… they’d have done it for you. This is one thing you should not feel bad about. Great friendships are not about gifts. You bought something you thought they would enjoy and they happened to top it. Let them know how much you appreciate it and don’t feel guilty. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to give the most amazing gift ever in the future. Cost doesn’t matter. They probably got so much joy out of giving it to you, so don’t diminish it by making a comment like, “oh, you shouldn’t have” or “wow and I got you lotion.”
Gifting for the Person Who Has Everything
Everyone has the family member or friend who seems to have it all. If they want something, they buy it. They have expensive hobbies and specific taste. Even if you find something you think they would actually like, you can’t afford it. The best gift for this person is not a materialistic item, but an experience.
If you’re really close, you can find tickets for an activity or event to enjoy together. How about a painting class or stand up paddle boarding lesson? For a solo event, Google spas in their area and get a gift card for a massage or pedicure. Gifting monthly subscription boxes is another unique idea. The key here is to find something they wouldn’t think of to get themselves or something they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Your gift will be one they remember.
When You Don’t Know What Size
You’ve found the perfect style sweater but are stuck on which size or color to get. When in doubt, go with your best guess and include a gift receipt. If you’re super sneaky and have time, sneak into their closet for a reference. This is definitely easier if it’s your mom versus someone in your friend group. If you’re worried about offending the person with the wrong size, just find something else.
When You’re Broke
You have many loved ones and want to show them all they are appreciated. The only problem is your budget is very small. It’s been said many times, but it’s true – it’s the thought that counts. Cook a big batch of your famous cookies to give out. Put them in pretty cellophane bags with ribbon and a sweet note. Browse Pinterest for DIY gifts. Arrange a potluck dinner for your friend group in lieu of gifts. Or, suggest your family or group of close friends participates in White Elephant or Secret Santa with a $10 cap. A lot of people are probably in the same situation and will be relieved if you suggest a budget-friendly alternative.
When You’re Dating Someone New
Should you get them a gift or shouldn’t you? You don’t want to put pressure on a new relationship by getting a gift. You might not know them well enough yet to go the thoughtful-gift route. And how embarrassing would it be in this situation to gift and not receive? Suggest going out to dinner together to celebrate. You can even tell them, “let’s split dinner for our gift to each other.” If you really want to get them a gift, and even have something in mind, go for it. Don’t be upset if they didn’t think to get you one. If they get weirded out, that’s on them. And it’s a red flag if it’s not appreciated.
Exchanging gifts shouldn’t feel like an obligation. It’s a fun part of the holiday season and makes people happy. Don’t forget to remove price tags before wrapping your gift. While in the giving spirit, you can tip your hairdresser a little extra and leave something for the mailman. Get creative about who you can surprise and what you can give! The holidays are for joy, not stress.