Relationships, Transformation

How to become better at giving gifts?

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After spending most of my life convinced I was terrible at giving gifts, I was told a few times more recently that I, and I quote, “gave the best gifts”.

It made me quite happy to hear that as I’ve been trying to be a lot more intentional with my gift-giving over the past years.

Around 3-4 years ago, I decided that I wanted to become the kind of person who gives great gifts. And that’s how I embarked on a mission to see if I could improve my “gift-giving skills”.

Here’s what I learned about the whole thing and how (I think) I became better at giving gifts.

Let me just mention that becoming better at giving gifts, especially meaningful gifts (as opposed to just expensive things), goes beyond just the gift itself.

Of course, and more often than not, a great gift involves money, but not always and not necessarily a ton of it. One of the easiest way you can show a person kindness and appreciation is simply by remembering their name, their birthday (after they’ve told you and not just because it says so on their Facebook), or by making them a card.

Whether that gift is for a friend, a lover, a family member, or a random person, a great gift is about the person receiving the gift and the intention behind it. Also, the goal is to make them feel loved, appreciated, and understood and that’s not an easy task.

13 tips for becoming better at giving gifts

Tip #1: Acknowledge that, just because you suck at giving gifts now does not mean you can’t improve

This will help you be more patient, and accept that the whole “giving meaningful gifts”-thing does not happen in one day.

Your next 3 or 10 gifts might suck despite your efforts… but that’s okay, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t improve.

Tip #2: You become better at giving gifts by being more intentional about it

Giving better gifts or more meaningful gifts is not about giving someone what you like (although that can work too, sometimes).

A great gift is (in most cases) about what they like. And if you are going to figure out what that is, you have to be intentional about it. The “best” gift idea is not always just going to fall on your lap. You have to pay attention to the person, and constantly search for ways to show them you appreciation in the best possible way.

Tip #3: Becoming better at giving gifts is a long-term effort

This means that all the things discussed in this post take time. Getting to know someone well enough to figure out the right gift for them can happen quickly, but it can also take months (or longer).

Becoming better at giving gifts will most likely happen gradually, as you become more and more mindful of the other person’s needs.

Tip #4: Encourage more meaningful conversations by becoming more curious of the person

You get better gift ideas by getting to know the person better. The next tips explore that topic more in-depth.

Example:

I once offered a simple hand-made card and cookies to a friendly neighbor at Christmas. It was not an elaborate gift, but the note was friendly and I put love and intention into it.

I didn’t know him well. But what I did know, was that he had just moved here from Argentina and had left many, many friends behind. Only to be greeted by a lockdown.

He was lonely.

The card, the cookies, but mostly the thought, made him so happy. He smiled, hugged me, laughed, shared it on all his social media, and told all the other neighbors… He still talks about it 14 months later.

Tips #5: LISTEN to the person and take note of what matters to them

When looking for ways to give better gifts, here are a few things to pay attention to concerning the other person:

  • What they can’t shut up about: hobbies, favorite activities, books, movies, sports, animals, etc.
  • Their childhood memories/games.
  • What makes them smile?
  • What do they spend most of their free time doing?
  • Who or what do they care about?
  • Is there something they long for or that’s missing in their life?

Figure out a problem they have in their life, their wants, needs, values, and desires, and take mental notes for future reference.

When the time comes to pick a meaningful gift for that person, try to match your gift to these elements of your friend’s personality.

Tip #6. Pay attention to dates that mean something to that person. Then write it all down on your phone or a Word document so you REMEMBER

One thing that makes a gift great is its relevance and timeliness. By this I mean, a great gift is not necessarily one that you feel forced to give because it’s a holiday that neither you nor they really care about (Hello, Christmas.).

A “great gift” can be a simple card celebrating the fact that your friend submitted their thesis after 3 long years of sweat and tears.   

This gift costs nothing in terms of money, but it’s thoughtful and has meaning.  

Also, once you hear of an important or meaningful date: WRITE it down somewhere you won’t lose it. This means, don’t write it on a post-it. Keep a specific folder in your notes app, or your planner.

Better at giving gifts
Image from Canva

Tip #7: A great gift is not necessarily one given on a birthday or at Christmas.

The previous point already explains that one.

Tips #8: Sit on it for a while and give your mind enough time to churn it over

Don’t expect to find the perfect gift within the next hour unless you already know the person pretty well (or you get lucky).

(Good) Ideas will come more easily if you give yourself ample time to mull over the various possible gift options, than if you decide to find a great, meaningful gift in the next HOUR.

Tips #9: Also, don’t wait until the last minute to start searching for “the best” gift

Some of my best gifts were “planned” weeks in advance. This allowed me enough time to think of a plan B if things didn’t work out.

Guess what? Things usually didn’t go as planned so the extra time was always welcome.

Tips #10: Start a savings account dedicated to giving gifts

One of the reasons why I used to suck at giving gifts was because, when the time came to buy the gift, I was always broke.

When I decided to become better at giving gifts, I opened a savings account dedicated solely to spoiling the people I love.

I set aside a minimum of 20$/month (more, if I have money coming in). That way, I always have at least 240$ per year just for gifts.

I can no longer hide behind the “I’m too broke to get him/her a gift” excuse.

Tip #11: Give meaning to your gift

Great gifts usually inspire, motivate, make the person laugh, or have something to do with their passions.

Don’t just think about the gift itself and how “good” it looks. Think of the problem/meaning/intention behind the gift.

  • Try not to think of a great gift in terms of what it costs, but in terms of time and effort put into finding it.
  • Don’t (just) go for the most expensive gift, but the one that brings more joy to that person.
  • Think of something that stirs up certain feelings or emotions.

Tip #12: Make sure you don’t encourage (self) destructive behaviors or addictive ones

Focusing on what the person likes to do most is one thing, encouraging destructive behaviors is another.

In general, when looking for meaningful gift ideas, I try to stay away from alcohol/cigarette or drug-related products/and electronics (such as iPad, phones, etc.). No, I don’t wish to encourage endless scrolling and content consumption with my gifts, but that’s just me.  

Tip #13: Accept the fact that you may (and probably will) miss the mark

It’s okay if people don’t like your gift. What matters, really is the intention.

If the person does not agree, then perhaps they are not worthy of all the effort you put into finding them the best gift you could think of.

Also, it’s important to understand that people may not realize right away how great your gift was. It might take them a few weeks/months/years to figure out that this gift made them feel truly special.

So don’t beat yourself up too much when/if things don’t go exactly as you had hoped.

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About Steph

I am a personal growth/self-management enthusiast. I was able to completely transform my life using everything I share here. I hope this blog helps you transform yours as well.
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