People don’t set out to give lousy gifts, but gift happens.
“I need a birthday gift for my sister who I’m super close to. I’m looking for something that she will hate, that irritates her every time she thinks about it, and I want to waste a bunch of money in the process. Can you please wrap that because I’m in a hurry?“ said no one ever.
Wonderful gifts often make people gasp, “Oh! You shouldn’t have.” Lousy gifts result in, “Oh. You should NOT have” and tend to result in hurt feelings. After all, it’s no fun when someone you love gives you a gift that makes you wonder if they have ever actually met you.
I’m on a mission to help people stop giving lousy gifts. It takes a long time to develop a close relationship, but only a moment to give a really bad gift. Be sure to avoid these common pitfalls in gift giving:
- Selecting a gift that reflects YOUR taste, not the recipient’s taste-you thought that fuchsia sweater with the sequins was stunning, so you bought it for your best friend’s birthday. The only problem is her closet is filled with clothes from Lands End. If you love the sweater so much, buy it for yourself and then get your friend something else.
- Getting ANYTHING, just to get something-these are the gifts that the recipient is planning to regift or donate to charity, even before they are done opening it. You can recognize these gift-giving-gone-wrong items because they are generic and bland. Little totes filled with cheap notepads anyone?
- Not paying to people’s likes and interests-It turns out everyone already owns the most important gift giving tool of all—our ears! Our loved ones are constantly giving us clues about their interests; we just need to listen. If a friend raves about the wonderful food he had on a recent trip to Italy, it’s a safe bet that he would enjoy an Italian cookbook or some fun pasta in interesting shapes and colors. If you find it overwhelming to remember all these tidbits, do what my friend Kari does: she keeps a list of her friends’ interests. When she needs to get a gift, she just refers to her cheat sheet.
- Deciding it’s time the recipient expanded his/her taste and style-while I think it would be fun if my daughter wore those adorable sneakers with the rhinestones, they are not her style. Even if I wrap them up in pretty paper and insist they match perfectly with her favorite shorts, it’s a non-starter.
Whether you are shopping for a birthday gift or trying find an anniversary gift for your sweetie, just say no to bad gift giving. Fabulous and inspired gifts are much more fun and waaaay more special!