8 Tips To Help You Become A Better Gift Giver

There's no better feeling than giving someone you love a gift that you know that they'll love, too, but nailing down the perfect present can prove to be quite the difficult task. The ideal gift is something that genuinely surprises the giftee, makes them feel loved and excited, and has a place in their life. While a pre-packed bath set or a selection from Amazon's top picks is easy, the best present is something that lets your recipient know that you listened and put in the effort to find something they'll value for years to come. It isn't about what the price tag says, but instead should include a personal touch. 


Just because gift-giving requires forethought, attention, and knowledge of your recipient, it doesn't mean it has to be a stressful experience. Before you start frantically browsing online in search of inspiration, take a moment to learn a few tips to make your hunt a bit easier. Before you know it, you'll have gained the skills to impress your loved ones with your picks for each and every special occasion.

Buy your presents sooner

The first step in becoming a better gift giver is to seriously expand your timeline. Last-minute shopping for Christmas, Mother's Day, or birthday presents is a surefire way to limit your options and stifle any good ideas that come to mind. Instead, consider buying your gifts year-round. If you know exactly what you want to get someone as a present, go ahead and make the purchase ahead of time, especially if it's a popular or limited-release item.


It might seem a little strange at first to keep a stash of future presents hiding in a closet, but this approach can seriously cut down your stress, especially during major holiday seasons when you find yourself having to prepare presents for the whole family at once. It also has the added benefit of giving you more of a financial break. Black Friday sales can save you a ton of money, but they can also wreak havoc on your November and December budgets. By buying your presents throughout the year, you'll be able to enjoy the holidays without the financial stress of several major purchases at once.

Jot down ideas when they come to you

Even if you don't plan on buying your gifts early, you can still do a bit of prep work to make the process less stressful. A large part of gift-giving is remembering things that your loved ones have mentioned that they're interested in, but it's incredibly easy to forget the details of these interactions, especially if the next holiday or occasion is still months in the future. To prevent this, make a note if something catches your eye that you think one of your loved ones would like, then re-evaluate down the line. 


This can be direct — you're browsing online for something for yourself and you bookmark the link for the potentially giftable item. Or, it can be more idea-focused — your friend mentions that they never have enough glassware for when guests come to visit, so you jot down a note of this struggle for a potential future pick. This way, when you're down to the wire and your mind is seemingly void of solid ideas, you can turn back to your list to remind yourself of these interactions and avoid the dreaded last-minute scramble. Compared to buying ahead, taking notes also gives you more of a cushion if the recipient decides to buy the item you have in mind for themselves.

Keep your gifts useful

Gag gifts and decorative pieces are great for a small, silly present, but, if you want your gift to have staying power, give them something that they can actually use in their daily life to avoid the dreaded fate of your carefully-selected gift ending up in a donation bin next time they declutter. With that being said, however, your presents don't have to be boring or purely utilitarian — find something that combines both a fun memory or inside joke with something useful.


Say, for example, your friend is a well-known coffee addict, so much so that it's become a running gag between you two. Instead of buying them a sign or shirt that says something like, "Don't talk to me until I've had my coffee," that you know they have a low chance of actually wearing or displaying, get them a new set of mugs that fits in with their personal style, or a milk frother so they can bring a bit more luxury to their morning routine.

Stay away from clothing

As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to pass on gifts that require you to have an intimate knowledge of someone's taste and style unless you are incredibly close or know about a specific item that they want. This is especially true when it comes to clothing — our fashion choices are dependent on a wide variety of factors and often change month-to-month, if not week-to-week. You don't want to put your loved one in a position where they feel they have to wear an item that makes them uncomfortable just to prove they're thankful for your gift.


Of course, this rule has its exceptions. Generally speaking, jewelry is a bit easier to buy for others, especially if you know their preferred metal and what pieces they routinely wear. Accessories are also typically simpler to navigate, especially if it's something on the more functional side like a hair accessory or simple scarf. This rule of thumb also completely depends on your relationship. If you and your friend frequently bond over fashion and you know their taste inside and out, there's no reason to avoid buying a piece you know that they would love.

Take their interests into consideration

Interests can serve as a great gateway for finding the perfect present, though it's important that you work with current information and within reason. If you've ever had a family member that's clung on to something you mentioned that you enjoyed when you were six years old as a gift idea well into your 20s, you know the importance of finding this balance. Take note of what your loved ones are currently exploring and enjoying, then gift them something that's both functional and in line with these interests. If you're buying for a family member you haven't seen in a while, don't be afraid to do a bit of asking around to learn what they're a fan of at the current moment, especially if they're younger and quickly flowing through different phases.


If you know your friend likes Pokémon, for example, consider getting them a new game or cover for their Nintendo Switch, but stop and think on the massive Pikachu plushie you have sitting in your cart. Just because someone is interested in something casually, it doesn't mean that they want to cover their entire home in memorabilia. 

Don't forget about experience gifts

A lot of the time, people immediately jump to material goods when thinking about what to gift someone. In a lot of situations, this is much easier, but, for someone that already seems to have everything, consider going for an experience, like tickets to a concert for their favorite artist, a day pass to the spa, or a cooking class that allows them to explore new techniques. These gifts are an especially good idea if you know your loved one has a quality time love language — specifically planning a day to spend time with them and enjoy a new experience will likely be much more impactful than a physical present.


Experience gifts are also a great option if your loved one is living in a cramped space, if they're more of a minimalist, or if you want to reduce the environmental impact of your purchases. Most of the time, people don't need any extra items lying around, and presents, even if they're loved, could eventually turn into waste.

Don't rely on a splashy price tag

Presents can get expensive, but you don't have to spend a lot of money to make a big impact. Buying something designer or pricey for someone doesn't necessarily mean they will enjoy it, and a gift under $20 can have still pack a punch if it has thought behind it. Monetary value doesn't increase or decrease emotional value, so try to find something they'll enjoy first, then cater the specific purchase you make to your budget.


If you're feeling especially strapped for cash, consider investing your time rather than your money and gifting something handmade. Put your hobbies to good use and paint them a piece of art for their wall, cook them their favorite meal for a night in, or get a print of your favorite photo together and display it in a frame from the thrift store. Even if a present is something simple and low-cost, the fact that you put in the time and effort to find or create something they love will make it great.

When in doubt, go for little luxuries

If you're still completely lost on what to get for someone, or if you don't know them well enough to lean into a gift that's more sentimental or personal, something small and luxurious that they wouldn't normally have on hand is almost always a good option. Food items that won't quickly go bad like candy, finishing salts, or gourmet jams are a good add-in for a gift basket — just check that they don't have any allergies or special dietary requirements. If you know that they drink, a bottle of wine or their liquor of choice is a universally-appreciated gift, especially for something like a housewarming or dinner party.


The same line of thinking extends to things like fresh flowers, candles, and bath sets. These gifts, for the most part, aren't the most personal or catered, but they're well-loved by most people and likely won't go to waste. Becoming a good gift-giver is all about incorporating thought into your decisions, so, with a bit of effort, you'll be sure to find something that's perfect for each and every one of the important people in your life.