3 Tactics you can use to think of a good gift
How to not get stuck when they already have everything they need
Thinking of a good gift can be so challenging, sometimes it can be hard not to resort back to just giving money in a card. No matter who the person is, there is always a good gift that they will appreciate if enough thought is put into it. Some people are harder to please and we often find ourselves with the oldest excuse in the book: "they already have everything they need." This is a dangerous thing to say to yourself when trying to think of a gift for someone, as you'll put a block in your road to the perfect gift.
Optimism and appreciation for the person must be used as tools, while you observe the kind of person they are. Through some observation and questioning you will be able to identify the things that are of value to them. A gift doesn't have to be useful, but it does communicate a message whether intended or not. Finally, by picking up on problems they have in their life you can recognise what would make their life easier.
Here we discuss in more detail three tactics you can use to think of a good gift for someone.
1. Home-made gifts are sentimental gifts.
Have you ever received a home-made gift? If you have, you'll know how receiving something that's home-made is so very different from receiving something bought from a store. Anything home-made sends a message that your person is worth your time and effort. It can also be more affordable, environmentally friendly and more fun for you.
The best gift I ever received was for my eighteenth birthday, from an old friend that documented our time spent together for a whole year and put together a book with photos and annotations of those memories. This was so special because it was long term - she was already thinking of what to get me for my eighteenth birthday when I was turning seventeen, then she dedicated time over the year to work on the book. This gift was not a 'useful' thing to me or a thing that I 'needed', but the sentiment was real and valuable. By giving me this book, she was communicating that our friendship was important and worth her effort and time.
There are endless ideas out there of gifts you can make at home, you could bake something, make a terrarium, do a painting or build a small piece of furniture. Here are some more ideas for home-made gifts:
If you aren't so much the crafty type, you can still make things at home that will be useful to them. You could build a program, you could set up an automatic greeting voice on their sound system for when they get home. You could make a bookshelf or fix something in their home that they haven't got the skills to do. Use whatever unique skills you have to make, build, fix or design something for them. Below are some useful links for those who are not so crafty.
Making something as a gift shows that you value the person because you are willing to dedicate your time to them. It shows you are thinking of them when they are not around. A home-made gift is a sentimental gift.
2. Focus on what they are interested in.
If you know the person you are giving a gift to you will know their interests, passions and hobbies. Don't use that excuse 'they don't do anything but work' - everyone has interests, you need to think past what they already do. Pretend you are a detective and use what they do in their spare time as clues leading you to what they really want to be doing. If they were to retire tomorrow or no longer have the responsibilities they currently have - what can you imagine they would do with their time? Observe how they live their life; what kind of things do they talk about and focus on? What kind of things are important to them and what do they spend their time on?
People value gifts that validate them as a person, that encourage who they are. When somebody else accentuates their uniqueness, they will feel encouraged to be who they are. That is the real gift. The real gift isn't in the physical gift but in the message being communicated.
The real gift isn't in the physical gift but in the message being communicated.
So by focusing on what you know about the person, what you know about their interests, passions and hobbies, you can think of a gift that they will really appreciate. Remember that a gift doesn't necessarily have to be something that they need and it could be something that they didn't even realise that they wanted. They key is in the message behind the gift.
3. Listen to their frustrations.
Over time, listen to the things they say about problems or frustrations they have in their life. If you can provide a solution to an ongoing problem, it will make their life easier and be of value to them. This is what businesses do when developing new products. They identify the 'pain points' that customers have in order to find what would be of value to them. Often the customer doesn't even know that they wanted or needed the product until they come across it. People are always trying to make life easier for themselves. People naturally lean towards things that will be more efficient and of less effort.
Ask your person what is repetitive in their life. Ask them what they would choose if they could take away one thing in their life to make things easier. They may not yet have thought of a solution to their problem, or they might need an outsider to see things differently. Even if your idea doesn't completely resolve the problem, the sentiment of showing that you care about their problems and frustrations is valuable. You will show how you have empathy for them and understand their feelings. In turn, this will fulfil their need of being understood and accepted by others. Remember, it's not in the gift but in the message.
It's the thought that counts.
Written by Holly Best, June 2019.
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