I really love to give gifts. I enjoy the thrill of selecting the perfect item by finding a creative solution for celebrating someone in an authentic and personal way. It’s not about the price, the brand or anything superficial. Rather, it’s about knowing someone and celebrating them in a way that says, “I know you. I pay attention to you. I care about the details of your life.”
In light of this, I have realized I am a high maintenance gift giver. It just makes me cringe to give a gift “placeholder” that feels insincere. You know what I’m talking about, the I-couldn’t-find-what-I-really-wanted-to-get-you-and-thought-would-serve-as-a-heartfelt-celebration-for-this-moment-so-I-got-you-this gift. Y’all, I just can’t do it! If I am giving a gift, I want to feel inspired and connected to it. Most importantly, I want to be confident it will bring a genuine smile and warm heart to the one I'm giving it to.
This outlook is a blessing and a challenge. It’s great when I am successful finding just the right gift, but when I don’t feel inspired or a gift isn’t coming together how I want, it’s agonizing. It’s at this point one might suggest getting the best thing I can find because after all, it’s the thought that counts. But that is just it! It is the thought that counts, so if I get a gift that I don’t think much of, then not only is the item not a good fit, but the accompanying thought is lacking too! See my predicament?! Because of this, I've come up with some solutions I'm excited to share with you!
Wherever you find yourself on the gift-giving spectrum, I hope to meet you on your journey today with some tips and ideas! First, I’ll share my own recent holiday gift solution followed by eight tips for becoming one of the most thoughtful and successful gift givers your friends and family have ever known!
Flashback to Valentine's weekend with the Woodcocks
This year, for Valentine’s Day, I was a bit troubled to find myself on February 13 with little-to-no inspiration for Woody’s Valentine’s gift. In fact, not only was I not inspired, but honestly, with a February 14 launch of The Lovingkind, I had spent so much time focusing on the launch that I’d hardly given his gift much thought. Well, no blog is as important as celebrating my true love, so I swiftly shifted my focus and determined myself to get him a Valentine’s gift that was special, thoughtful, and still within what I like to call our “newlywed budget.”
Valentine's gift solution
I was able to find all but one gift at Target and kept the entire collection under $100!
1. Little goodies
I accompany many of the gifts I give with small, extra treats—it’s so fun and inexpensive I can’t resist! Candy at Valentine’s Day is an expected yet favorite treat so I picked up little heart shaped boxes full of two of Woody's favorite candies. Also, Woody often borrows my Eos lip balm so I was delighted to find one for him in his favorite shade—orange!
2. Personalized print
My dear friend Michelle who collaborated with me to design The Lovingkind has a fabulous little design shoppe called Parapalla. She has a “famous couples” design and she created one for me and Woody! My husband loves when I add little touches to our home so I knew he would appreciate this thoughtful and personalized addition to our downtown loft. I got a great quality 8x10 print done on semi-gloss paper at Staples for $1.19! What a deal! Then, I picked up a frame at Target to make the perfect presentation of this piece of art.
3. Practical yet romantic item
Woody and I have talked for months about getting our phones out of the bedroom. The bedroom is meant to be a peaceful, personal place for rest and intimacy and having a cell phone flashing, buzzing, ringing and notifying you constantly does not help promote any of that. But, as many people do, we use our phones as alarms, so they have stayed despite their interfering ways. In order to finally rid us of phones in the bedroom, I bought Woody an alarm clock for Valentine’s Day! I found a simple, sleek design from Phillips that does not have lots of bells and whistles making it just as distracting as a phone. It simply serves as an alarm clock. I was so proud to find this gift and to reach one of our 2014 goals for our home and our marriage—phones out of the bedroom! What may not seem like a romantic gift, is, in fact, all about inspiring romance!
Woody responded to each gift just as I had hoped and I could tell he felt truly loved, which is what matters most. While I'll admit this collection of gifts is a bit random, what made them special is the thoughtfulness that tied them together to feel personal and intentionally selected for him.
Meaningful gift-giving is something we can all do. It takes more effort, but if you’re going to invest time and money into a gift, why not do it in a way that you and the recipient will enjoy?! Here are my tips for finding gifts that will truly celebrate the ones you love.
Gift giving tips
1. Consider Conversation
Think about recent conversations you’ve had together. Have there been any recurring themes come up? Do they keep mentioning anything in particular? If someone talks about something a lot, that means they are thinking about it even more. Thinking about what they have been thinking about is a sure way to have a successful gift-buying adventure.
2. Think Hobbies and Interests
What are their hobbies? Finding something they already love and supporting them with supplies, books, or inspiration to help them along their journey is a perfect way to encourage their interests and make them feel loved. For example, Woody loves to golf, so for his birthday I got him a private golf lesson at one of his favorite courses!
3. Rely on Favorites
What are their favorites? Are there things they love to eat, do, wear, listen to, or watch that you could turn into a gift? Use these triggers to get your mind going: candy, dinner, concert, clothing, brand, experience, subscription, music.
4. Pay attention
Pay attention when you are with them. Whether watching television, shopping, traveling, or being out and about, chances are they will see something they like and comment on it. Having your eyes and ears perked up for the little things they point out along the way helps you to not only give them something they want, but to say, “I am paying attention to you.” One of my favorite examples is by the groom of a recent wedding we attended who needed a wedding-day gift for his bride. He remembered a beautiful perfume she pointed out while they were in Paris, searched it out, and gave her a bottle of this special scent to wear for their wedding day and beyond.
Think for them! What a great gift in and of itself to be innovative and buy something that will benefit them and they don’t even know it! These are harder to come by, but keep your eyes out for new items that are relevant to them and could add value to their lives even if it’s something they don’t know they need or want!
Share what you love. If you love something, it’s possible that they will too. People will trust products or experiences given to them with an endorsement from you! What are your favorite products or brands that you could share with them?
Think about experiences. Gifts most often come in a tangible form, but experiences make amazing gifts too. Whether it’s seeing a concert or a play, traveling to a new place, or checking out a restaurant you’ve never tried before, experiencing something with someone is a wonderful gift and creates a special memory.
8. Speak their Love Language
Consider their Love Language. The way a person receives love can also impact they way they receive gifts. For instance, if their love language is “quality time” then spending a day together and taking them to dinner would be an incredible gift. If their love language is “acts of service” then doing an out-of-the-ordinary act of service like washing their car, planting new flowers, or making their favorite room of the house white-glove clean would blow them away. If their love language is “words of affirmation” then don’t ever give them a gift without a card to accompany it!
Remember it is not money or status that is most impressive in a gift. It doesn’t take someone special to drop hundreds of dollars on a nice item, but it does take someone special to give a gift that is personalized to one's interests, hopes, passions and personality. So often in my own experience, the journey someone went through to get me a gift that was “just right” meant even more to me than the item itself. It takes someone close to you to give you something that says “I really know you,” and that is the best gift any of us could receive. It’s the thought—the real, intentional thought that does indeed count the most.