The WCL Guide to Better Gift Giving

It’s that time of year again – the time of lists. I’ve got to-do lists, a list of social engagements, and my least favorite, the shopping lists. This year, as I sat down to formulate my holiday shopping plan of attack, I decided to take a more thoughtful approach. In doing so, I found that I was able to bring some of the magic back into the process of gift giving, and the whole thing felt a lot less stressful and a lot more joyous. Here are the guidelines I used to infuse this once-dreaded holiday task with the spirit of the season.

Make It Personal

We’re not talking monograms here. Probably the most important consideration when buying a gift is to choose something specific to the wants or needs of the recipient, but a great gift should also make that person think of you every time they see it. To personalize your gift, think about what things you and the recipient have in common. Perhaps the perfect gift is an experience you both can share: a punch card to the yoga class you both attend; two tickets to see a movie together; a State Parks pass and a standing date to go hiking together once a month. Draw on the history of your relationship to find that perfect something that will let them know you’ve chosen this special thing just for them.

Make It Relevant

Most people have one or two things they are really into, whether it be a favorite color, a brand they are loyal to, a hobby they love, or a cause they tirelessly champion. This can be a good place to start when generating gift ideas, but don’t just settle on the obvious ones. Instead, try to combine their passion with the tip above on personalization to come up with something unique that even they didn’t know they would love. Be both practical and creative here: does your coworker really need another hat featuring the logo of his favorite sports team, or will he get more enjoyment from sipping his coffee out of a mug emblazoned with their image? If the latter is a better choice, then go one step further and throw in a bag of fair trade coffee, too.

Make It Yourself

Nothing says “From Me to You” more than a homemade gift, and you don’t have to be an artisan to create personalized treasures. Look to your own hobbies and skills here, and think about what you can do or make for someone that they would really appreciate. If you’re a good cook, make someone a fancy dinner. If you brew your own beer, there are probably a few people on your gift list that would love to sample from your latest batches. Even if you think your talents are boring, chances are there’s someone on your list who thinks otherwise. Bookkeeping, organizing, woodworking, proofreading, car detailing – these are only a few of the talents you can easily turn into thoughtful, personalized gifts.

Match Your Gift to Their Values

This is an extra credit tip, but it’s one that can really up the level of personalization of your gifts. If your friend or loved one has strong feelings about a certain issue, make sure your gift not only doesn’t violate those feelings, but that it supports them in some way. Give some extra thought to where and how things are made, and if possible, find a way to support your loved one’s cause with your purchase. Baking a batch of holiday treats with organic, fair trade chocolate is a doubly thoughtful gift for someone who both loves chocolate and cares about where it comes from and how it is grown and harvested.

Following these tips does require a little more time and thought, but I think you’ll find that by putting in the extra effort, both you and your recipients will enjoy the gifting process a little bit more this holiday season.

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