What's your favourite part of the holiday season? Mine is gathering around the table eating together and sharing stories.
Now, when it comes to sharing stories, chances are, you've heard one or two about some unfortunate gift recipients. I know of someone who received a silk scarf with a hand-painted bison on it. The woman who both wears silk chiffon and has a passion for bison is a niche customer indeed!
Consider Your Intention
Why are you giving the receiver a gift? Take a moment to think about this honestly. Is your focus on them and what they'd like or need? Or are you trying to convert them to your way of thinking or preference? Some people use gift-giving as a way to project familial or cultural expectations onto another. Are you making assumptions? Successful gift givers put their focus on the recipient.
Consider the Recipient
How well do you know the person receiving the gift? What activities does the person enjoy? If you aren't very close, it's best to avoid intimate gifts such as perfume or complex fragranced items, art and home decor pieces or clothing that requires you to know the person's dress size. In such cases (or when in doubt) consumable/useable gifts work best. Also important: what does a person not like? Asking questions, paying attention, and not making assumptions are key.
Give People What They Want
According to a study by the Journal of Consumer Research, givers tend to focus more on the desirability (e.g. wow factor) of a gift, whereas receivers prefer more practical (e.g. useful) items. Consider gifts that will give the recipient pleasure in using it - beautiful everyday items tend be more successful than surprising-but-difficult-to-identify-the-use-for gadgets.
In another study, we learned that when people have wish lists (e.g. for bridal showers) and people got gifts that were not on their list, they considered them less thoughtful and less personal. If they've made it easy for you, and your intention is to make them happy, give them what they want.
Ask For A Wish List
If the recipient is someone you know well, consider asking for a wish list. Maybe they've already compiled something online. Ask them for several things they need and would like, then select from there. If the list is long enough, there is still the element of surprise, as the specific gift(s) that they'll receive is unknown.
Know that setting a positive intention for your gift recipient is an important step to get you on your way. People do sense when others mean them well, and will appreciate your gesture of kindness and generosity. Then, once you've got your gifts sorted, it's time to wrap them up! Next week, we'll delve into papers and ribbons - join us then.