Thursday, 12 February 2015

Never Kick a Gift Horse: Buying the Perfect Present

Cartoon of wrapped giftThe Art of Buying a Gift - A Guest Post by Jade 

The simple exchange of gifts between one person and another… oh, if only this were true! Everyone struggles to buy gifts for a variety of reasons. I have sorted the most common reasons into five categories below, along with some advice on how to use these reasons not to buy someone a gift to your advantage when choosing the gift.

The Person

 “I don’t really know what they want.”, “Will it be awkward if I buy that?” or “Will this gift disappoint that person?” if you have ever had any of these thoughts, then you are already half way to knowing what to buy. Except, you are working backwards. You are starting off by listing the things that you don’t think they will want or the things that you think will disappoint them. This is a great start, but a big problem can be when we start to lose faith in ourselves because we have listed 10 – 15 things that the person would not like, so we rule out everything and anything as being ‘disappointing’,  ‘awkward’ or ‘stupid’.

If it is someone you do not know very well i.e. a colleague, the best gifts are fun but meaningful. An example would be, if a colleague works in the same office as you and you can never find a pen when you need one, chances are the recipient will have the same problem. You could buy them a set of biros, but I am sure the recipient will enjoy using those as darts from their desk to yours! (They either snap or explode… they would not want that on their desk.)  However, if you use that awkward situation and buy them a comedic gift that can make fun of this situation, while still being useful, you may even get a laugh and will definitely avoid having to duck every time you walk past their desk.

Suggestion: Customised pen i.e. Boss or Funky pen i.e. Googly eyes, sonic screwdriver, etc.

 This draft list of gifts that are not up to scratch is vital to the process of buying The Gift for someone you really care about. To start with, write the first 10 gift ideas down. The ideas could come from conversations you have had with this person or for the more devious individual… conversations you have overheard this person having. It can be anything. Size, money and practicality are not factors at the moment. Then, once you have 10 items written down. Next to each one write down as many answers to the following questions as you can:

“What would he or she like about this gift?” and “What would he or she not like about this gift?” then narrow the list down to the five gifts with the most positive points against them.

The Occasion
 This provides a difficult gauge on what to buy someone. However, as a general guide: The smaller the occasion, the smaller the gift they want. There is a reason why cars are usually given at 16th and 18th birthdays and smaller gifts are given when it is another year of the young person being a child and they have fewer additional privileges because of their age. The best gift, whatever size, will make a reference to the occasion in some manner, for example: At a retirement party, I think it is thoughtful to give a gift relating to that person’s hobby i.e. paint brushes, driving gloves etc. because the message they are receiving with that gift is: “We are grateful for all of your hard work, but you deserve to have a happy retirement.” and whether good or bad, when has a gift ever not been received without a hidden message?

The Budget

  Only you know how much you spent. For the other person to know, they would need to look it up. If they are not a believer of “Money can’t buy love.”, then they do not deserve all of your time and effort and can whistle through one of the new biro pens you will buy them! If your gift is well thought out, and that only means it relates to either a specific part of them you love or helps them in any part of their life, then they will see it as money well spent.
 The presentation of a gift can make it look £1,000,000. Nice wrapping paper and a simple bow will make the recipient feel special and will make more of an occasion of the gift. However, if it is a small joke present, wrapping it many times is a priceless joke for the right recipient.
 Also, relating back to the colleague example, provided your gift is not offensive in any way. There is a giver’s code as old as time, whispered between giver and recipient for generations. It will relieve any awkward gift situation in a heartbeat: “Never kick a gift horse in the mouth!”

The Space

This is where your list of five gifts that you made will start to narrow down. If you have visited the other person’s house or can find out what sort of accommodation they have then you simply need to:  F.R.A. C. Fit, Room, Adore and Colour.
 Find out if it will fit in with their type of life. For example: A tall, glass vase will not fit into a home with small children in.
 Do they have room for this? Someone living in a bedsit will not want something huge because they will have nowhere to put it.
 Do I like this gift? Never buy someone something you hate- they will see you hate it by your facial expression, when you give it to them and then they will wonder if you have rubbed poison on it. It does not need to be your favourite thing in the world, but you will need to hand it over with a genuine smile.
 Colour is an important point if you like to have fun while you shop- If you noticed a colour scheme in their house, the easiest way to make sure your vase sits pride of place on the mantle piece is to make sure it blends in with other bits of furniture or an obvious colour scheme. It will also help you to decide what colour that gift should be, if you know what colours they like and they have in their house.

The Time

Time is the most precious gift of all.” I love this expression. If you have spent a long time choosing just the right gift, that special someone will know. The time you spent thinking about them and their needs, is undoubtedly the best gift of all.

 However, if you are short of time with working long hours or you have purchased something online that never arrived. Then, a nice idea is if you have a mutual friend then you can both go together to look for something you know he or she will like or you can walk into the mall and people watch. You will see groups of that person’s gender and age walk into shops and buy one specific thing i.e. perfume or after shave and if you buy it for him or her, it is statistically likely that he or she will really like it.    

Tit for Tat

·         Clothes- I do not buy them as a mistake in sizes can cause a complex- something to avoid on a happy occasion.

·         Food and toiletries- Be aware of dietary requirements and vegetarians do not use products that have been tested on animals.

·   50 Shades of… Whatever- Make sure the person you are buying for will get the joke as embarrassment is not to everyone’s amusement.



  1. Great tips! I am rubbish when it comes to present buying.

  2. Great tips, I agree totally with the Do I like this gift? Its a good one as I spend time weeping they have the item I really want. Then I have to hope they will read a great guide like this and not get me a hideous prezzy ;)

  3. I'm super observant if I ever visit a friends house taken in colour schemes etc as this can really help buying a gift or sending them flowers.

    Angela - Garden Tea Cakes and Me

  4. Great tips. I am terrible at buying gifts for family and usually end up giving them money. For freinds, it's a bit easier as you can buy them generic gifts like flowers or chocolates. Gosh I am terrible at choosing gifts!!

  5. I often make little things. "The time" is something I have more than money.

  6. What super tips Jade. You are right too about presentation can make a gift look much more expensive.

  7. Great tips, I alwys have this problem with a few of my friends and it takes ages to choose a gift I think they would like.


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