The Art of Gift Giving: Finding the Appropriate Present
by P. Aggarwal
Gift giving plays a significant role in our social lives. The secret to
buying a perfect gift is really simple. Buy something the recipient will like.
Yes, I know. It sounds like something your second-grader would tell you but
children sometimes really do know it all. The trick lies in finding out what the
recipient would really like. Gift giving is the easiest way for us to impose our
taste on other people. All our creative gift ideas that are really awesome may
be only to ourselves. We think of giving gifts in terms of the gifts we would
like to receive. The idea is to think in terms of unique gifts that the
recipient would be thrilled to receive!
Another gift giving secret to keep in mind is to buy the recipient something
they want, not necessarily need. How often have you thought, “If only I could
take a peek at his / her shopping list!” Well, think again. Human nature being
what it is, most of us tend to restrain our impulses. We may really want
something but if it is not something we really need, we may or may not buy it.
We definitely have wish lists as long as our arms. So, when giving a gift to a
loved one, buy them something from their wish list, not their shopping list.
As simple as that sounds, gaining access to the wish list is the complicated
part. You may need to play detective. By that, I certainly don’t mean that you
need to start stalking your family and friends or dig around their past! You
definitely need to keep your eyes and ears open. Listen carefully when the
person makes references to unique gifts they would love to own. If possible, go
shopping with the person and take note of every window display oohed and aahed
over, every item picked off the shelf, caressed and replaced back and every
object drooled over. In short, be sensitive to the person’s wants and desires.
You are sure to find the perfect gift.
However, with all the best intentions in the world, some of us are just not
meant to play the gift giving game. Here are some general no-nos and some great
gift ideas from the gift giving etiquette manual.
Gift Giving No-Nos for Men
• Don’t buy her something your mom said was pretty. She’s not your mom and if
she ever finds out who suggested the gift, you can bet you won’t be seeing much
of her anymore.
• Don’t buy her the ‘elegant’ outfit you saw the lady on WWF wearing - and that
goes for Xena’s warrior costume too. Save your fantasy dressing games for YOUR
birthday gift. Anything that is too low at the top or too high from the bottom
is a no-no.
• Definitely don’t buy her a toaster / oven / microwave – kitchen appliances
she’s been thinking of buying. You may think you’re helping, but she’s likely to
think you are asking her to be a better cook! (Buying her an expensive oven or a
book on decorating cakes if she’s a baker would not qualify here.)
• Gag gifts are not great gifts. You may think you are buying her a creative
gift. However, when her hair comes out looking a weird green instead of the
auburn she was aiming for, God help you and your creative impulses.
• Scarves, a bag, shoes, tops, jackets, accessories of any kind all fall under
the no-no category. Frankly, the odds of her loving what you buy are as low as
her best friend not knowing your every little secret – zero to none. While men
think ninety percent of the clothes and accessories are fine, women think ninety
percent are not. Now you go figure if it’s a good idea or not.
• Beer, video games, posters, DVDs, CDs - save them for your male buddies.
Great Gifts to Buy for Her
• Splurge on a holiday at a spa resort or a few hours of massage and
relaxation for her. Women love being pampered and looking like a million dollars
at the end of it. Female is synonymous with luxurious pampering.
• Buy her a potted plant such as a bonsai. While flowers are traditionally the
gift of choice for both sexes and most people love them, a potted plant suggests
commitment and longevity. She will enjoy it as she nurtures it and watches it
flourish. Ensure that the plant is not too high maintenance, lest your unique
gift become added stress for her.
• Personalized gifts are a great idea. Women are sentimental creatures. Put her
name on it, or better yet, a short, sweet message from you. You’ve got gratitude
for life! Anything that includes a photo of the two of you is also a very good
• And lastly, the you-can-never-go-wrong-with-this-gift: Jewelry, of course!
Pearls or diamonds, earrings or pendants, a bracelet, necklace, large, small,
new or antique, expensive or not so expensive – it’s all welcome.
While shopping for women can become stressful, buying gifts for men isn’t
easy either. Some gift giving guidelines ought to help you out.
Gift Giving No-Nos for Women
• Buying him the shirt, tie, underwear or socks you saw in the latest
Cosmopolitan is out. Don’t try to change him. OK, we know you can’t help it
because it’s ingrained but try not to use the gift to change him!
• A framed picture of yourself. You love it; he’s already got so many pictures
of you in his mind, he can’t figure out what he needs this one for!
• Jewelry. Huh? You must be joking!
Great Gifts to Buy for Him
• The latest in electronic innovation that you can find on the market. A cell
phone, PDA, DVD player – the more complicated it is to figure out, the more
he’ll love it.
• Season tickets to the NBA games for him and his male buddy. This is guaranteed
to make you the woman in his life and him, the envy of every male he knows.
• Another really popular gift with men is stock. There are online websites,
which actually allow you to choose a company and the number of stocks you want
to buy. It’s a great gift that keeps on giving because it can grow in value over
• And lastly, the you-can-never-go-wrong-with-this-gift: Beer. More beer. And
some more beer.
Whatever gift you choose, remember that the real joy in gift giving is to
give from the heart. You must enjoy buying the unique gift you choose, and the
recipient must enjoy receiving your gift as well.
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P. Aggarwal is a successful freelance
writer who enjoys providing tips to consumers about
birthday gift ideas such as
personalized birthday gifts and
birthday presents for men.