The Smart Shoppers’ Guide to shopping gifts

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We’ve all been through the ups and downs of gift shopping. No matter what specific occasion it is for, we must all agree, that shopping gifts, trying to find out who likes what, is a pretty challenging task. Even if you know the person who you are to gift, it’s not always easy, unless you stick to the good old rules of gift giving which all depend on you. This time around, as Christmas time is nearing, I would like to share some of the best gift shopping ideas with you and I will also represent you with some traditional gift buying rules and gift etiquette which you may apply to anyone who you are to gift.

  • Gift cards and vouchers ALONE are a no-no


Imagine how unhappy you would become if you were only gifted a gift voucher. While I appreciate the try from all the companies the truth of the matter is simple: a gift voucher is not a gift. A gift is something you can hold on to, something you get excited to unwrap. It is the fact that you received something, an object that was presented you by someone else is what counts. Now, with gift vouchers the magic is all gone. If you want to gift voucher to a woman, buy a spa treatment at a good quality place or hotel and always pair it up with a physical gift no matter how small it is. That’s by far the best type of gift voucher a woman can receive. I can attest to that!

  • Cosmetic gift packages are a jolly good idea, especially for women


gift packs

But try not to stick with the shower gel – body lotion combo. For women choose a gift box which has as many cosmetic items as possible. I, personally would love to receive such anytime! And there is literally no woman who doesn’t like cosmetics. I personally would suggest you to do your best to stick with something natural or all-natural because these are simply way better and do more good. High quality brands I can suggest everyone include Elizabeth Arden, Clarins and Clinique especially for women who are middle-aged or older. Try Body Shop which has good products for all age groups. For men, it’s always good to keep it simpler. Shaving cream combos are always spot on.  Don’t gift makeup however, that’s way too tricky.

  • Create a gifting list and a budget and stick to it

You should never go overboard as many people do for the Christmas period. Try to keep it simple but put some thought in your gifts by something small but thoughtful which make them more personalized.

  • Don’t spend too much money on wrapping paper


Wrapping papers which look good and can be decorated nicely are just perfect. You don’t have to want to achieve perfection with them, after all, when a gift is unwrapped, the wrapping paper which held the gift will become useless and will be thrown away.

I personally prefer gift bags, as they can be easily re-cycled.

  • Buy at stores which have a free gift wrapping service

This will save you time, money and tons of energy. You can still personalize your gifts later on with messages, stickers or any other small decorations.

  • Handmade gifts are a great idea


Nothing is as personal as a handmade gift but don’t go overboard with the DIY or you will end up spending way more than you thought to spend. Try to keep it fun and simple. You don’t need to take on pottery classes or learn professional painting to work out a fun and easy DIY. Pinterest is your friend!

  • Don’t gift big amounts of anything

I love the gift packages because they contain a whole lot of small doses, giving me the attraction to the large variety and yet giving me the chance to try something else if I don’t like an item. Big amount of anything can be all too much, all too big or all too expensive. Stick with more and smaller gifts. Because everyone prefers more gifts to one larger gift.

  • Try not to gift things YOU like for yourself

We often make the mistake of buying something for someone based on the sole fact that if we like that item they would too. Unfortunately personal tastes don’t work this way. What I generally do, is that while I shop gifts I will always buy something for myself too. This is how redeeming works. This way, you won’t feel sad, you also give a gift to yourself.

  • Keep the receipts but don’t include these with the gifts

It’s a golden rule that gifts should not show the price in any way because it’s simply rude- But let your friend or family member know of the chance to switch the gift if they really don’t like it.

  • Do not gift your leftover freebies such as promotional items or your unwanted presents 

Re-gifting is almost always very obvious. Either by the dust on the box or something looking and feeling simply clearly used. Noone wants a second-hand gift and it’s pretty rude to re-gift things acting as if they were new. Unfortunately too many people keep on doing this and it’s not nice.

  • Don’t gift items which are merely „practical”


Like a set of underwear, socks, napkins. Noone like to receive such gifts, unless they are also paired up with gift-like gifts such as scented candles, decoration items or edibles.

  • Give multiple sorts of gifts in one

Don’t give one sort of a gift only. Even if you are to only give a cosmetic set, add some chocolate to it! Everyone is so much happier when they receive all sorts and types of gifts.

  • Don’t gift alcoholic beverages

The only exception is rarities which you surely know that the recipient wanted for a long time.

  • Don’t gift your own intentions

This, again means, that gifting is not to express your will to change one of your beloved one’s habits. Do not gift diet books, hair colorants, exercise gears, weights or life changing books for anyone. Festive time is for celebration and not for shaming people or wanting people to change (your way).

  • Do not give gifts for self-use


It’s a pretty unacceptable and a very narcissistic thing to gift something to your wife or husband which clearly you are to use in the future. The only exception is, if you do it for the sake of fun and you have a proper set of gifts at hand to your beloved one.

  • Don’t buy gifts which you clearly cannot afford


Unfortunately gifting competition is an unwanted sort of a tradition in many places and in many families which should clearly be stopped. Gifts should never be about money. Countless people go bankrupt during Christmas season and oftentimes, a year is not enough to pay all that money back. Remember, spending is so much easier than paying it back, but credits are not gifts ( even if they are seen so in the heat of the moment).

  • Motivating gifts however are a good idea


If you know that your friend or family member needs some motivation or inspiration then you can gift them with hobby related items to inspire them to catch up on them. Hobby books discussing multiple sorts of hobbies are a good idea. I also like cooking books, only make sure they are in line with the abilities of the recipient. Also, make sure you gift a cooking book that contains USABLE recipes and normal ingredients which are not too hard or expensive to get. I once received a cookery book where not one single recipe was fit to be cooked by ordinary people at all. Cookery books which also include cultural introductions, descriptions are a nice gift especially if you know what countries the recipient is crazy for or wants to visit.

  • Don’t gift perfumes


It’s hard enough to find our own favourite smell, so don’t challenge yourself wanting to find a smell you like for someone else. Even if someone says they love a smell, they may change their mind once they smell it once again. It happened to me several times. Gifting perfumes YOU like for someone else is almost like trying to shape someone to a person they are not. They will wear a perfume you like not a perfume. They like themselves. If you understand what I mean. Some cultures, like Japanese strongly associate perfumes with dirtiness, therefore they don’t wear them at all.

  • Give gifts for all those who count

Everybody loves to receive gifts, no matter how small they are. Honour everyone when it’s time for celebration but in a way, which you don’t end up eating up all your credit card’s limits. Remember, people are happy for the act itself, you don’t have to give expensive gifts.

  • Great, shared experiences are the best gifts of all
Marrakech trips are especially popular during wintertime

It takes time and it would need you to grow up ( unless it’s about a trip to Disneyland) but after a while we realize that a fantastic experience, such as a journey, an excursion or a lovely evening at a beautiful retreat is worth way more than physical gifts. However, even if you plan to surprise your loved one with a shared experience, don’t forget to honour the occasion with something physical let that be a small gift of fine chocolate or a dinner. (Because we all DO LOVE physical gifts)

  • Gifting plants and flowers


Bear in mind that most flowers and their colour codes have their hidden meanings. While many people don’t watch that, keep some simple things in mind. Red flowers are solely for loved ones. For friends you give anything ranging between pink or orange. There are flowers which are considered cemetery flowers or they simply represent grief or sadness. Do not gift those to anyone. When it comes to flower pots, think about that plants would actually fit the space and to the lifestyle of your friends or family members. Last but not least, if you are aware that your friend is bad with plants or have flower related allergies don’t get them one. Cut flowers are nice gifts for birthdays for special occasions, try to stick with those which can last for a longer time and are not too expensive and don’t be shy to ask the flower shop assistant on what they offer you to get.

  • Try to agree on the gift’s value well in advance

This saves you from lots of problematic situations in the future especially if all of you keep yourselves to this golden rule.

  • Gifting pets

Please do not gift pets. Especially for little kids. Most of these poor animals will have to be given away and kept by animal shelters because kids are small and they cannot take care of their pets, they get bored of them and change their mind. Plus the rest of the family doesn’t want to keep the pet either. Get pets only if you all responsibly agree to welcome them as new family members and even then, buy them together, never wrap them or make them scared any other way.

  • Gift small jewellery only

Jewellery is as personal as it can get. While a nice pendant can serve as sign of love, of bond or of a very special occasion, with their wearer deciding when and how to wear them, rings, earrings are way too personal to buy, unless they are for engagement. For men if they are your husband or long-term boyfriend, it’s elegant to gift a nice pair of cufflinks, but it’s definitely not the sort of gift you give after being together for just a few months.

I hope you liked this guide and that it will help you in your own gift shopping.