With holidays around the corner, the stress is setting in as to the types of gifts we want to get for our friends and loved ones. These days the gift-card route seems to be an easy way out. You see them in line at the supermarket or even while waiting to check out at a Wawa.
Sure, we all love a gift card, but it’s better when it’s given as an incentive for doing something, or when we are in a bind, or even when it comes from an acquaintance. But from a family member or close friend, I think gifts should be more thought out.
Plus did you know that, according to creditcardchaser.com, between six and 10 percent of all gift cards go unused? In 2009 that represented $5 billion! Then to make matters worse, many stores charge a gift-card inactivity fee that will slowly eat away at the balance. The truth is no one will complain if they get a gift card, as we all can use them, but if you are close to a person, try to make the gift something more personal.
Sometimes it’s hard to personalize a gift when you don’t know the person well, or even when you’re in different age groups. I know it’s definitely hard for me to shop for my younger cousins because I never know what’s “cool” or what they truly need. As they get older it seems that the items get more expensive, so it’s hard to do the “multi-gift” present thing anymore. Through my research on this subject I came across these tips on how to choose and shop for gifts according to howtoguide365.com:
1. Don’t procrastinate. The bottom line is, the longer you wait the less options you will have. Plus now you can get some great deals online, including free shipping, so there are no excuses!
2. Keep your eyes and ears open. I’m sure throughout the year you hear your friends/family talking about something they’ve always wanted. If so write it down (I will make a note of it in my BlackBerry under the notes portion within the address book). Then later on, when you are closer to purchasing the gift, casually bring it up in conversation to make sure they still want it.
3. Get a gift certificate. As I stated above it is an easy way out, however, the Web site matter-of-factly points out that on the positive side you are allowing the recipient to get something they truly need. I do agree with that, so don’t feel bad if you get someone a certificate for that purpose. You’re still good.
4. Don’t spend too much. You never want someone to feel like you spent more than they did. Plus it’s so true: a simple gift with special significance means just as much as something expensive.
5. Make a gift list. Name everyone you want to purchase a gift for, along with their age, amount of money you’re willing to spend, along with special notes.
6. Don’t insult the recipient. Basically, don’t get fitness equipment or diet books. Even if your heart is in the right place, it can be very insulting to some people. Obviously if you have discussed the item beforehand it’s OK, but as a random gift, I would definitely think twice.
7. Don’t buy something for yourself. Meaning, don’t buy something that you really want to use so you purchase it for the other person.
The most important thing to remember is that at this time of year we celebrate with our friends and family, so keep that in mind. Realize that the holidays shouldn’t be all about the money or the gifts. It’s about our family and all of the things we are thankful for. Pressure to buy gifts, especially in these economical times on little to no budget, is immense, but we do it because we don’t want to disappoint our loved ones. Small gestures go a long way and thoughtful gifts come from the heart. Being able to spend time with one another and create memories is worth so much more than a physical gift that you may or may not use.
Have a wonderful and safe holiday season!
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.