Christmas may have flown by in a flash, but for most of us, this doesn’t mean that we can put our feet up until the festive adverts appear again. Today, there are more occasions to celebrate than ever before, and this means that we’re constantly buying gifts. If shopping stresses you out or you struggle to be creative when it comes to sourcing gifts for the special people in your life, don’t panic! This guide is here to help you become a bona fide gift buying guru. These simple steps will help you get it right every time with minimal stress.
Working out a budget
Buying presents can be an expensive business, especially if you have a large family or network of friends. Before you start looking at options and browsing ideas for birthdays, St Valentine’s Day, anniversaries or weddings, draw up a budget. Budgeting is a simple and easy way of keeping on top of your finances and working out how much you can afford to spend on gifting each month. If you’ve got a particularly expensive month, you can plan ahead, and this will make life a little easier.
Set a budget that fits in with your income and outgoings. There’s a lot of pressure to buy outstanding presents these days, but you don’t have to spend a fortune every time. If you know you’ve got a major celebration or occasion approaching, start putting money aside weeks in advance. This will help you spread the cost over a period of time and make gifting more affordable.
There are two types of people in this world. Those who swear by lists and those who roll their eyes at the mere mention of schedules or spreadsheets. When it comes to buying presents for special occasions, it pays to be in the list-loving group. You can keep track of what you need to buy when, and this will help you plan in advance, save money and ensure you don’t have to dash out on a last-minute, stress-laden shopping spree.
Write a list now and adapt it as the year progresses, adding in any additional events. By doing this, you’ll have a point of reference you can look at every month, and you’ll have time to look around, find gifts your friends and family will love and hopefully, save time and money in the process.
Taking advantage of the Internet
If you dread the thought of going to the mall, it’s time to make the World Wide Web your new best friend. If you don’t already shop online, this will change your life. Gone are the days of waiting in line for hours, getting stuck in traffic on a Saturday afternoon and trying desperately to find something original on the shop floor. With online shopping, you can enjoy a hassle-free experience from the comfort of your sofa.
Using the Internet has an array of benefits for those who have a lot of gifts to buy. The process is much quicker and usually, much easier, but there’s also a much wider range of options available. There are hundreds of websites out there in the ether, and you’re not restricted to items that are on sale in your local town.
If you want gift hampers to be delivered in Singapore or you’re shopping for luxury chocolates, trainers or a customized football shirt in Paris, London or New York, the world is your oyster. You can source items from almost any country and arrange delivery to the recipient’s address. If you’ve got specific ideas, you can use search engines to find stockists and retailers, or you can simply use relevant words and search terms to browse items that may appeal.
Another major bonus of shopping on the Internet is saving money. There’s a huge amount of competition online, and you can use sites like Google to compare prices from different retailers. By taking a second to put in a brand name, a model number or a product code, you could save a significant amount. When you enter the relevant information, you’ll be greeted with links to the products, and you can order them at the click of a button.
Internet shopping can also save you a lot of time. Not only can you shop on the go. You can also take advantage of rapid delivery options. Many sites now offer next-day or even same-day delivery. This means that if you’ve not checked your list, and you find yourself in a last-minute panic, you can still make the deadline.
Putting yourself in the recipient’s shoes
One of the golden rules of gift buying is to prioritize the recipient’s preferences, style and interests. When you’re in a shop, or you’re browsing a website, don’t get distracted by items that you like or opt for gifts that you’d like to receive. Remember that you’re not shopping for yourself.
If you’re stuck for ideas, the best thing to do is consider what they do in their spare time and how they like to spend their disposable income. Use any hobbies or interests they have to come up with something they will love. Do you have a sister, brother or nephew that lives for soccer or is your dad or partner passionate about golf or tennis? Do you have a fashionable friend or a cousin who spends every spare dime on bags or brooches? Are you living with an animal lover or is your best friend a globetrotter? Is your work colleague a foodie or does your uncle have an interest in homebrewing? Whatever the hobby, use this an inspiration for your search.
It’s usually possible to find options that suit all budgets. Consider the sports lover as an example. If you’re looking for a small, inexpensive gift, an autobiography, a set of novelty golf balls or a pair of custom sports-themed socks will go down a treat. If you’ve got a slightly bigger budget, you could buy a bespoke training outfit, new clubs, a racquet or a limited edition ball or make a day of it and go to a game.
Thinking outside the box
When you think about buying presents, there’s usually a go-to list of items. If Mother’s Day is approaching, the stores are usually packed with perfume, bubble bath sets and candles. If you’ve got a male relative with a birthday looming, no doubt you’ll find guides recommending aftershave, socks and ties. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these ideas, but if you really want to show somebody how much they mean to you, consider elevating your gift search to the next level and thinking outside the box.
You don’t want to add to the pile of tried and tested presents. Instead, go for something a little bit different. Add a personal touch and customize items like mugs, jumpers, bed linen, sneakers or aprons, design some wall art online or create plans that will enable you to spend more time with that person. We tend to focus on material items, but often, time is the most precious present you could ever receive. If you haven’t seen your sister in months, you can’t remember the last time you had a child-free weekend away with your other half, or you only get to see your parents a couple of times a year, why not gift them an experience they won’t forget in a hurry?
You could organize a day out at a spa, an overnight stay in a luxury hotel or book plane tickets for a reunion, for example. There’s also the option of going for an experience that celebrates or indulges that person’s passions. You can choose from an array of options from chocolate making and wine tasting to wing-walking and rally driving.
Listening out for hints
If you’re on a gift buying mission, keep an ear out for hints and think about times you’ve spent together. Has that person mentioned a restaurant they want to try or have they had their eye on a bag, a top or a pair of shoes? Have they told you about bars or hotels their colleagues or friends have raved about or have they got a bucket list of things they want to do or places they want to visit? Be subtle, but don’t be afraid to gently encourage them to share some ideas. This will help to ensure that you choose something that they’re guaranteed to love.
Do you struggle when it comes to buying presents for loved ones? Do you have good intentions but end up buying the same things over and over again? If you hate the stress of shopping or you’re not very creative with your gift search, hopefully, this guide will take the hassle out of shopping and ensure you buy perfect presents every time. No matter the occasion, you can minimize stress and maximize the chances of getting it right by sticking to a budget, being organized, shopping online and focusing on the recipient’s interests and passions. Be original, think about what they love to do, and don’t limit yourself to items you can buy in a store. Good luck!
Disclosure – I have teenagers who constantly need something and a husband who thinks items like race cars and boats are toys. So, throughout the blog you will find affiliate links that enable me to buy a bottle or two or three of wine to keep my sanity intact.