Buying a gift has become an art form, a science. There are numerous considerations to take into account: personal tastes, current trends and style, budget, future use, and popularity – no one wants to give a gift that everyone else has already given, after all. Keeping all these myriad factors in mind can be a challenge for someone simply looking to make a birthday special, or brighten a friend’s day. Here are five questions you ask yourself when buying gifts.
1. Is It Something They Want, Or Something You Think They Should Have?
Gift choices are like Rorschach Tests, in that they say as much about the gift-giver as they do the recipient. It’s tempting to make your selection based on how you envision the present improving the life of the guest of honor, but ask yourself if they will really enjoy it, or if you hope they’ll enjoy it. There’s a big difference. If, for example, you think someone needs to improve their wardrobe, you might be in love with the new suit or clothes you bought for them. They, on the other hand, might be very comfortable in their own clothes and not appreciate your presuming that they would switch styles.
2. Is It Too Expensive?
When deciding how much to spend on a gift, the sky is not the limit. Unless the birthday guy regularly graces the cover of Forbes magazine, giving them a very expensive gift might be construed as inappropriate. If you and the celebrant have a special relationship or understanding, then this rule might be relaxed. In most cases, however, it’s polite to keep the gift at a reasonable level of expense, to spare them (and, equally important, other guests, if applicable) any embarrassment.
3. To Gift Card, Or Not To Gift Card?
Giving a gift card as a present may seem like the easy way out, but there’s good psychology behind it. It saves you the headache of buying the wrong present, and it gives the recipient the freedom of choosing his or her own gift, at your expense. However, there’s a fine line between the thoughtful and impersonal nature of gift cards. The recipient might feel insulted that you thought so little of them to not buy them an actual present, even if that was not your intention. Consider giving a gift card as a last resort, or if you and the birthday boy or girl know each other well enough that the sentiment would trump the gift (or lack thereof).
4. Would The Gift Change Anything?
A gift can say a lot about the relationship between giver and recipient, and it’s important to consider if the nature of the gift will affect the dynamic between the people involved, either directly or indirectly. Will buying a child a violent video game upset his or her parents? Will giving an intimate gift to a special someone make them fall into your arms, or fear that you’re trying to rush them? Consider how things are going to be the next time you see the person after giving them the gift, before you make your choice.
5. Will Everybody Else Be Bringing The Same Thing?
If going to a party (birthday, retirement, graduation, etc.), ask yourself if your gift seems so popular and guaranteed to please the guest of honor that someone else attending the event would have the same thought as you. If you know the people who are going to be there, you could try asking around (discreetly, of course). Otherwise, it may not be a bad idea to have a backup gift, if you feel that your gift won’t be unique.