First, I am a firm believe that experience is the best gift possible. Experiences are much more memorable than material items (This is proven science folks!!!) Of course this will depend on how well you know the person and what your relationship with them is like. I don’t suggest buying your boss that exclusive VIP club experience if you hardly know them (unless you really need that raise then I say go for it!!). But if you are trying to get a gift for someone you truly care about then try to think about an experience they would like to take part in. Seriously, if you’re significant other has been stressing a lot lately then get them that massage, facial or spa day package. Groupon, Living Social, and Travelzoo have these deals ALL THE TIME!! And it’s perfect for those of us who love to be poked, prodded, and pummeled by strangers’ foreign fingers. If your friend has expressed interest in some adventure, dining experience, event, excursion or anything that involves living life, then get it!!! Check to see if these magical deal sites have those experiences because most of the time they do!! Making memories is much more valuable than a sweater that may eventually be too small or fade with use.
Next EYEdea worth thinking about: If you aren’t that close with the person anymore or you just can’t swing the cash, then the next best present purchase (in my humble opinion) is memories of experiences. This can include any form of expressing or showing how a memory was made or how an experience was lived. If you’re artistic then maybe drawing pictures or writing poems are the way to go. I’m a photo slut so I love to show my experiences with pictures. Framing fun times with friends, creating photo albums, or scrapbooking are great ways to revisit the good times and show someone you do care about them. You can put photos on anything these days: books, cards, blankets, coffee mugs, chinaware, clothes, and who knows what else. With technology these days anything is possible. Even if all you can get is a gift card, maybe making a homemade birthday/holiday card with a picture can make it all the more meaningful. And doing all this does not have to be expensive. Check groupon, they have deals ALL THE TIME!!!! (sensing a theme yet?)What if you don’t have photos and aren’t creative? Well then I suggest trying to personalize the gift somehow. People love to see their names on things. Especially if they have a unique name that can’t be found on tourist shop key chains. I once got a cousin a colorful make-up bag with her name engraved on it and she loved it (that’s what she said and I choose to believe it!). The best thing is: you can personalize gifts however you want to. It doesn’t have to just be with their name. You can engrave inside jokes, or important dates, or meaningful quotes. The point is to make things personal. Doing even just that shows you didn’t forget about them and run by Walmart on the way to their birthday party. And these things really aren’t that expensive. Groupon, Living Social, Travelzoo OH MY!!! If you personalize gifts frequently then joining a site like shutterfly becomes beneficial in the long run. I receive discounts through their site and free gifts all the time (especially around the holidays). It pays to spend but it’s always better to spend less!!
So this is usually the part where I breakdown how much I’ve spent on stuff versus what it normally costs, but I’m not going to put myself on blast and let everyone know what I spent on their gifts. Sorry guys!! But I will provide a list of gift EYEdeas I have purchased before.
Photo albums galore! These are great for any reason. Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, you get the EYEdea. They take time to create, but are worth seeing the person’s face light up with joy at the memories.
Photo calendars. Another great gift for any reason. Photo gifts are especially good for people with kids. Creating a calendar or album with pictures of their kids shows you sense what is truly important to them. And with social media at our fingertips every second of every day you can just facebook stalk the person to get whatever pics they post online. Seriously though, be careful what you put online!!
Photo blankets, mugs, holiday/bday cards. Like I said I’m a photo slut. Having photographic proof of my life helps me remember the good times. Although, there are probably plenty of times where having photographic evidence wasn’t a good thing (JK no shame here)
Subject specific t-shirts as graduation gifts.
LIFE EXPERIENCE!!! If someone has mentioned something they want to do, I try to make it happen if it’s feasible on my limited graduate student budget.So all of this is going to depend largely on how well you know the person. First consider what your relationship is with that person. How close are you? How often do you talk or see each other? What kinds of things do you definitely know about them? A wine enthusiast may love engraved wine glasses but a recovering alcoholic will not appreciate that so much. An 18-year old girl may love an engraved make-up bag but your 50 year old father probably won’t. For me, if I’m really stuck I try to make a list of everything I do know about the person, even if all I know is their age, gender, and location. Simply knowing that can help you narrow down or have a starting point for gift EYEdeas.
Of course you may not be able to provide those perfect tear-inducing presents all the time. And it does get stressful when you think “crap now what am I supposed to get next time” when you’ve already gotten the most amazing heartfelt gift of eternity. I’ve often thought I’ll never be able to top myself next time. But if you are getting gifts for the people you care about and they care about you then they will understand you can’t always be perfectly amazing. But if every once in a while you are able to show the thought and effort you put into a gift then they will truly cherish you in their lives.
Now for all my family and friends out there who have said they love the gift I got them but really don’t like it: Please keep that to yourself. I’m not trying to lose credibility here. Love you all!!!!!!!!!! :-D