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How to pick gifts better than Santa for any event

If you’ve ever had to force a smile after you’ve opened a tin of regifted bath salts or you’ve got that one friend or relative who is impossible to buy for, when it comes to giving gifts, some people just have ‘the gift’ and others very much don’t. After all, last year, the first unwanted Christmas present was returned at 7.02am on the big day itself. How does Santa do it?

If your gift for gifts is somehow lacking, follow our tips and you’ll soon be giving St Nick a run for his money.

What makes a good gift?

A gift is something that sparks joy and make people happy. But it doesn’t always have to be something big and sparkly. Here are some alternative ideas:

Fix a problem

Get them a voucher for an osteopath to help sort out their persistent back pain; offer a night’s babysitting; or to walk their dogs while they’re at work.

Make it personal

Whether it’s a cushion with a picture of the happy couple for an engagement party, like these available from Card Factory, or your child’s smiling face on a mug for their grandad, personalised gifts elevate an everyday present.

Think practically

Unless you know the recipient really well, it’s hard to pick out jewellery or clothes that are to their taste, so practical gifts are always welcome. Think a funky print tote bag, a failsafe corkscrew, a sturdy umbrella or a great pair of headphones.

Be thoughtful

If budget’s an issue, but you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, a homemade gift is always smilingly received. Frame a photograph that you’ve taken, invite them round for dinner, make a mix-tape or it’s modern-day equivalent, the Spotify playlist.

Make a special ‘everyday’ gift

Buying socks is a boring task for most of us. However, a pair of colourful socks as a gift, beautifully wrapped, takes that boring job away from the recipient and will make them smile. Or, frame those prints that they’ve never got round to doing. What about a really good pen, a lovely notebook, colourful tea towels or eco-friendly food wrap?

What doesn’t make a good gift

Things that blow your budget

Spending money you can’t afford on a present will only make the recipient feel in debt to you, and may make them think they have to reciprocate in a similar fashion.

If you see something out of your price range that you know they will like, why not ask family and friends if they’d like to club together instead?

Things that become a burden for the recipient

Will the parents of a young child really appreciate a noisy toy, or a too-big teddy bear for their small bedroom? Likewise, buying presents that need specialist batteries (that you don’t include) or a gift experience that’s 50 miles away and has to be redeemed in a month, all become less of a delight and more of a drag.

About the author

Alice Instone-Brewer

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