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This time of year – a time of peace and goodwill – can be one of the most stressful for us, particularly when it comes to buying presents. We often feel an enormous amount of pressure to get it all ‘right’.  To help ease some of the strain, I’ve come up with a few suggestions.

How do I decide?

Delivering PresentsGenerally we give presents because it feels nice to make others happy, right? Therefore the key thing is to give our purchases some thought. Even a little goes a long way.

“Sure”, I hear you say, “but where do I start?”

Start by making a short list of some of the things you know about the recipient – even as few as five things will give you ideas (and if you don’t know five things about them, do you really need to give them a present?). For instance, a list about me would look like this:

  • Wears jewellery
  • Reads biographies
  • Likes a nice G&T
  • Loves tea
  • Hates being cold

Now you have at least five ideas of presents that would be very well received.

  • Wears jewellery – Earrings / A necklace
  • Reads biographies – The season’s newest /best selling release
  • Likes a nice G&T – An unusual gin or a step up from what I might buy for myself
  • Loves tea – A sampler of tea / tea pot
  • Hates being cold – Cosy scarf / gloves / blanket

In addition, these days you can get a gift receipt for almost all purchases, so if you’re nervous about your choices then include the receipt (and don’t be offended if an exchange is made).

That’s all great, but I have limited funds this year.

Give your time. Receiving the gift of time is a wonderful thing, particularly for those who lead hectic lives. Babysitting, snow clearing, lawn mowing or dog walking can be invaluable to those on the receiving end.

Share your know-how. Perhaps you have a particular skill or expertise that you could offer, such as web design, accounting, organizing, time management, painting, plumbing or social media advice – although these might seem boring or commonplace if you’re good at them, they are hugely useful and valuable to people who aren’t.

Can’t I just get a gift card?

Absolutely! Brilliant invention, and particular good for friends who don’t tend to splurge on themselves. But the same rules about thoughtfulness still apply – don’t just pick up a random selection and hand them out. Put some thought behind it.

Does this friend like going to the movies? Reads like its going out of style? Loves great coffee shops?  These days the gift card possibilities are nearly endless: hardware stores, spas, pet stores, even the liquor store. If it’s thoughtfully done, and given with a nice note or wrapped in a box (don’t just hand it over!) then it can be a great present.

I’m tired of all the usual stuff…what can I do that’s different?

You can sign them up for a “______ of the month” club (wine, beer, book, bacon, coffee, pie…). Again, the possibilities are mind-bogglingly endless.

Or perhaps you would like to name a star for them, or a crater on the moon. Yup, you can do that too!

With the Internet at your fingertips, unusual and creative ideas are just a search away.

Bigger. Better. Bolder.

Keep in mind that your present doesn’t need to be the most expensive or exclusive. It doesn’t need to be imbued with special significance. It doesn’t need to be ‘the best present ever’. It simply needs to show that you thought about the recipient when you bought it.

Thank you. Always, thank you.

One final note: always say thank you, even if you get a present that isn’t entirely to your taste, say thank you, because it’s the thought that counts.

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