Stop, Look, Listen. I can’t emphasize this step enough. Sometimes it is enough to spark the ideas, other times it can help start narrowing down options. Often our lives are so chaotic and busy that the clues to what to get someone are right in front of us. Take for example this great picture of my husband and daughter. I can use it to start narrowing down what to get him. Let’s look and see what I can find. First, toadstool hat. He’s a video game fan. He doesn’t play much for games anymore, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something in that category he might appreciate. Next, he’s wearing a cookie monster T-Shirt. That tells me two things. He likes fun shirts and he will wear anything his kids give him. Next, he loves to spend time with his girls. He’s in the military and works two jobs in addition to that so he adores any time he gets to spend with the kids. This means a gift revolving around family time and things he can do with the girls would be a plus. Conversations I have with him tell me he likes gardening and enjoys science. I also pay attention to the things he shows interest in when we’re out and about. If you can, discreetly take pictures of those items for future inspiration. Now I at least have a few different directions I could go for finding a gift for him.
It never fails. Every year I have at least one person on my gift list who is hard to buy for. This year (and every year) it’s my husband. I’ve known this man for over fourteen years and I still never know what to get him! His reaction to every gift given to him is the same, flat half smile with a thank you. It doesn’t matter if he hates the gift or if you gave him his top choice on his non existant wish list (he never tells me what he wants). Because he’s my husband I won’t go with a gift card because he means enough to me that I want to put thought into his gift (and he forgets to spend gift cards anyway making them a waste). To help me decide what to give him I decided to take a methodical approach and see if I can narrow down some ideas that way.
I’ve designed this guide to be used by anyone with a hard to shop for person on their list in hopes that it will spark some ideas on just what to get them. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say “check out this apron, every woman needs an apron!” because that’s just not practical. Everyone is different, so an individualized approach needs to take place, and that’s what I intend to share with you here.
Personality. When picking out the perfect gift for the hard to buy for, taking his or her personality into consideration is a must. Is the person you are shopping for outgoing or reserved? Do they have a slap stick sense of humor or is their humor a bit more on the dry side? What about practicality? Do they see to surround themselves with the practical and have less of the “useless fun stuff” as we like to call it? Fro the wilder personality you might be able to get away with a gift that is more for fun and has less purpose, like crazy wall hangings, cute desk accessories or collectibles. For the more practical person see if your gift ideas have a use, like picture frames, kitchen gadgets (for the self proclaimed chef) or books if they like to read. Another one of my nephews was hard to buy for. He liked getting down and dirty with his hands fixing cars, welding, inventing stuff. I knew he wasn’t entirely a practical person but I wanted to get him something that was funny (he has an amazing sense of humor) yet fit in with his interests, so I found him a metal dog sculpture. He loved it! For the next few years after that I kept trying to top myself and getting him a crazier metal dog sculpture and he ended up with quite the collection that was perfect for decorating his house, his shop, his dad’s Auto business…where ever he wanted to put it!
Bundles. Sometimes the smallest interest can turn into a great gift just by pairing it with like items. For example, years ago I gave my nephew a gift basket filled with an iced tea pitcher, matching glasses, ice tea spoons, some nice cloth napkins and two big containers of Nestea mix (his favorite). I got the idea just from remembering he loves Nestea and it’s the only tea mix he’ll use. The other items weren’t necessarily something he woud have wanted or needed on their own, but pairing them with something he loves rounded it out. My Father-in-law is also tough to buy for (why are all my problem gift receivers guys!!) The perfect gift for him would be a case of Coke and maybe some Coke collectors items to boost the basket. For my husband, I could probably do something like this with Lego’s. Maybe get him a coffee table book about Legos, then a few Lego kits to go with it. If I found some other Lego memorabilia such as hats, shirts or boxers, I could throw them in as well.
Favorites. Depending on how well you know a person you might be able to deduce some of their favorite things. Even people you only know as an acquaintance you might be able to recognize a favorite in their surroundings. I remember a woman I used to work with who I didn’t know very well. One thing was for sure, she loved flamingos! Her desk was a sea of pink and feathers. Not my cup of tea, but to her they were the best. My husband’s favorites include gargoyles, stamps, chess and Marilyn Monroe. None of those seem to go together and this is why he is so hard to buy for! He’s so unpredictable! With this in mind, I can only give him so many gargoyle collectables and chess boards. Stamps really aren’t that good of a gift from me since I have no idea what he needs or wants in that area. Marilyn Monroe is a bit easier, but still it can get overdone very fast and I have big plans for a Marilyn project in our house for him, so I don’t want to go crazy with it. A year ago I did get him some nice Marilyn shot glasses, just for the novelty of it since he doesn’t drink much.
Life Experiences. Pay attention to any big event that may have taken place with your hard to shop for person. Did they get a new job? Buy a house? Have a baby? Go back to school? There could be a wide range of things going on in a person’s life that might be the signal for a great gift. My husband has recently started his own insurance business. He’s slowly building it up, but it takes time and a lot of work he won’t be paid for right away. The delayed gratification of his work makes it a little discouraging, so this year to help boost his mood the girls and I have decided to get him a couple of new things just for his business. A new planner, a business card holder and a new tie will all make for a great gift. Any other year and these things probably wouldn’t be as appreciated as much, but this year is perfect timing for them.
I hope these guidelines help you narrow down your decision on what to buy the impossible to buy for person. Everyone is unique and some people have more obvious interests than others. There is a great gift out there for everyone, it’s just a matter of taking a look at that person and figuring out exactly what that person might want or need. If anything, look at a step in the gift giving process as a time to get to know the people in your life better. Take them out for coffee or to lunch. Have a good visit with them at their home or invite them to yours. Give them a call and just start talking. You never know what you might learn, and building the relationship might be a gift in itself.
Good luck on your holiday shopping!