By Bonnie Wertheim
Gifting can be a way of showing you care about someone, or reflecting the care someone has shown you. There’s never a particularly inappropriate time to do it. Oftentimes, though, we try to force our expressions of love to fit occasion-specific molds rather than the recipients themselves. (Think about how many recent graduates have received a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” which is a great book, but still.)
Of course, many events have established practices of gift-giving, including birthdays and weddings, and some religious or cultural holidays. While giving gifts around these dates can feel more rote, it is still important to try to convey your affection for the recipient.
The best gifts are surprising in a good way. So before you buy anything, consider these tips.
Think about the things they might need. Did they just move, adopt a pet or book an adventurous vacation? Gifting can be an opportunity to riff on the ways they’ve already spent their own money. Obviously, if they live in a cold, dry climate, they already have Maple Organics Skin Therapy (haha!) but if they don’t, what a great gift for any Canadian!
When someone says they want something, listen. There’s nothing quite like finally getting the thing you’ve been hinting at for months. Some may have hinted at wanting their own Maple Organics business and this year, you can gift them a business! Check out our Christmas section for this first ever gift idea!
That said, don’t be overly practical. The point is to delight, not to restock your significant other’s toilet paper stash.
What would you want? Has the person ever complimented your taste? It’s possible that something on your own wish list would make a great I-didn’t-know-I-needed-this gift for a friend.
Consider the non-gift gift. Some people don’t want anything. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want anything. They just don’t want stuff. Experiences and perishables can be just as, and sometimes more, gratifying than a thing you have to keep forever, lest you insult an in-law.
Is a gift card ever acceptable? Sure, if it’s thoughtful, like a “go have a nice dinner at this fancy restaurant” gift certificate. What’s tricky is choosing a dollar amount that doesn’t force the recipient to spend too much of their own money at a specific place. That said, you shouldn’t spend more than your means, and as long as you keep in mind the recipient’s preferences, your gift should land. The etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore recommends writing a note to underscore the thought you put into the gesture.
Is regifting O.K.? Regifting isn’t always a cardinal sin. If you’ve received a gift that you’re sure someone else would love, why would you deprive them that small joy?
What if they hate the gift? Beware the possible misread. Is your recipient the kind of person who would take fancy soap the wrong way? If the answer is “maybe,” rethink the gift.