We’ve already discussed giving gifts to perople you know and people you barely know. Therefore, we now come to what may be the least populated but most difficult category of all: people that you know so well that no present is ever going to express what they mean to you. Personally, the people that fall into this category include my parents, my significant other, and a few very close friends.
Let me start by warning you that some of the best gifts I’ve given must seem rather strange from the outside. That’s just it. An incredible present may be of such intimate significance as to make little or no sense to anyone else. However, if you know the recipient very well, it’s perfect. Because they matter to you, you should have an idea of what will put a smile on their face. Better yet, it could make them smile each time subsequent time they encounter it.
As an example, one of my mother’s favorite material gifts I have ever given her was a set (six or eight, I don’t remember) of french wine glasses from Crate & Barrel. Hers look like these, but without the bulge in the stem. To some, drinking glasses would be considered an impersonal gift. Nonetheless, to my mother, it was a useful quantity of well-designed, quality items that she appreciates and enjoys every day. She still occasionally thanks me for them. (Side note: my parents’ cats LOVE drinking out of the glasses because they think they’re being sneaky.)
That brings me to the first gift idea.
Get them something useful that they wouldn’t get themselves.
If your friend struggles with their $5 corkscrew every time they throw a party, a nice bottle opener and their favorite bottle of something might be just the thing. Depending on your current situation, you may not be able to spend a lot of money. You don’t need to. Go for something with a lot of thought that says you pay attention.
When my significant other insisted on buying decent knives for our kitchen, I thought it was a strange place to spend the budget. Now, I love and appreciate them with every use. Young people who may be stocking their first kitchen from family castoffs and thrift stores especially appreciate such items. This time of year, a quality cookie sheet and a silicone baking mat can go a long way. (If you haven’t used a silicone baking mat or silpat mat before, get one for yourself too!)
My second gift idea involves a little more luck:
Get them something something incredibly them.
As another example, I have a dear friend who frequently wears pearls and also loves cats. I found a set of pearl earrings with cat ears that everyone else who knows her sees and declares to be perfectly her. This Nessie Ladle might be just the thing for the dinosaur-loving soup-maker in your life. You can find items like these by searching keywords of their interests. Unfortunately, this can be a time-intensive process, but “cats” and “pearls” eventually got me to a very good place.
If you are in a good place financially, you may be better able to pull off the next gift idea:
Give the gift they always talk about but would never splurge on.
We all have that one item we find ourselves window shopping for or constantly pinning on Pinterest. You may know what that is for someone and be in a position to make it happen. A great raincoat or quality backpack can get expensive quickly if you’re on a budget. Nevertheless, they are both items I am glad I was able to invest in. Maybe their dream item is something frivolous that they can’t justify spending the money on and you can. Be careful here to walk the line between being able to make it happen and lording it over them.
If you don’t see this person as much as you’d like, consider:
Give them something sentimental.
Okay, it’s cheesy. So what? This is a person you care about. A nice photo in a frame of their taste might be the gift that warms their heart. While photos of you and the recipient are usually preferable, photos of young people are usually well appreciated by older relations. Many of us stop taking professional photos regularly after high school, but you can now take decent enough photos yourself. For less than a professional photographer, you can also find students who take beautiful shots.
Other sentimental items include hardcover copies of favorite childhood books for grandparents to then read to their grandchildren. I enjoyed an old copy of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel as a kid.
Last but not least, consider this:
The best thing to give may not be a thing at all.
My partner is one of those people who are nearly impossible to shop for because they buy so little and already have what they desire. He was working out in the desert and had had a pen explode because of the heat. I gave him a Fisher space pen, not knowing at the time what a pen snob he is. It didn’t have an absurdly fine tip, so he didn’t use it. Fast forward two years, and he gave me a pen that he and a friend designed and made. Altogether, it not one of my better gifts. Now, years later in our relationship, I’ve given up. I no longer give him things.
Experiences and memories are an incredible gift, particularly if your time is scarce. Take a day together to do their favorite things, explore an old jaunt, or simply talk. Do something they love but you don’t. Try out that restaurant and don’t split the check. Restaurant-hop thought the night, getting your favorite course from each place. Enjoy each other’s company.
What are your greatest gifts for the ones you love? Do they make any sense to anyone else? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.
“Your love and care is the greatest gift of all.”