Most people love to buy gifts for their children, partners, friends, and other loved ones on special occasions. You buy for birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, weddings, and on other occasions just because you want to.
The problem with buying and also receiving gifts is that they are not always wanted. People struggle to choose a present and then make a rushed decision or they don’t think it entirely through. Although the giver no doubt means well, this can often lead to a gift that sits in the cupboard for some time before sadly being discarded.
It is estimated that in the US, over $15 billion is wasted on unwanted gifts at Christmas alone. In the UK this figure is around $5 billion. This doesn’t even take into account all those birthdays and other occasions that demand a gift throughout each year. Much of this will at some point end up as landfill but some could have been avoided with a smarter choice.
How can you make better gift purchases?
It would be lovely if there was a perfect formula for choosing a gift so that you got it right every time, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, or fortunately, as it happens, everyone has different tastes, likes, and wants. What is good for Uncle Frank may not be as useful for little Jimmy. Canadians spend around $650 every year at Christmas, and you can only guess how much of that is on unwanted or unloved presents.
When you are choosing gifts at Christmas for the person who has everything it can be extremely frustrating and shopping at this time can involve many wasted hours. Here are a few ideas for not only choosing the right gift but also making an informed decision based on what the receiver’s needs and values are.
Gifts for the foodie in your life
When looking for gifts for foodies and food lovers you will want to get something special, perhaps artisan pickles or cheeses, or something longer-lasting such as a kitchen gadget.
If you are choosing gadgets then first see what he or she or they have already and think about the sort of food they like to cook. There is little point in buying a yogurt maker for someone who is lactose intolerant. Gadgets often end up in the back of the cupboard, are barely used, and end up gathering dust.
However, food is different. For a food lover, a hamper made of items you have selected individually from farmers’ markets and local artisans may be really be appreciated. Look online to source one or two unusual items to join the local produce. When choosing food items it is important to check the labeling too.
Making an informed choice for a food gift means reading the hang tag if the jar or bottle has one, or the label. Hang tags are those little cardboard tags that are often tied to the neck of jars and bottles. They will inform you of exactly what is in the jar of chutney you are considering buying. This way you can avoid chemicals, preservatives, and other nasties your friend might not appreciate.
Make the gift yourself
When you think of little Jimmy and his desire for the latest video game, this idea probably won’t go down so well. However, making something yourself can show that you really thought about the person you are giving it to and you put a lot of yourself into it too.
If you happen to have some crafts skills, enjoy making preserves or special chili jams, design jewelry, or have some carpentry skills, then you can make a very personalized gift that can be either temporary – like food – or loved for a long time, such as a rocking horse.
You can make the gift look extra special with professional labeling and hang tags too. There are plenty of companies online such as the Dutch Label Shop who can print, cut, and deliver your custom labeling. Most of these places will design for you too or you can provide your own artwork. This extra touch sets off your gift and shows the recipient that you thought about their gift in detail.
Buying clothes for the eco-warrior in your life
Buying clothes for other people is often a nightmare. However, if your friend or partner has expressed an interest in a particular item, a handbag, shoes, a tie, then it is worth taking note. Quite often, gift ideas are given to you but they can easily be forgotten.
One of the problems when buying gifts is that you could easily inadvertently purchase something that goes against the receiver’s values. Especially as many people are now waking up to the environmental damage that is caused by making ill-informed purchases.
Clothing has to clearly display certain details under the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act. This law means that you can see a certain amount of information including country of origin, sizing, and care instructions. For someone who is committed to the environment, this might not be enough so you need to look at the hang tag for more information.
Hang tags can provide much more detail, allowing you to make an informed decision that will hopefully lead to you buying a gift that is not only ‘right’ but actually wanted.
It is quite common for hang tags to reveal information regarding how environmentally friendly the manufacturer’s process is. Look for natural materials and dyes, no harmful chemicals, and a fair deal for their suppliers on the tag’s information.
Donate to charity in someone else’s name
For some people, this might not seem as if you are buying a gift for your friend or loved one, but it might mean more than you can imagine. Instead of wasting money on something that the recipient never really wanted, and will probably never use, you could make a donation, within your budget, to a cause they believe in.
As you get older, the sad fact is that you will lose people. There may be a charity that your friend donates to because they help with research into certain illnesses that are close to their heart. For them, this gift might mean much more than a new scarf or another gift.
Spa and wellness gifts
Another gift that might be welcome is something to do with wellness and pampering. For a hardworking person in your life, a day at a spa could be the perfect gift. You could buy beauty and wellness gifts for your Mother or other loved ones or you could treat them to a full spa experience.
Consider how hard they work and what for them would be most welcome. Sometimes the only thing that your loved one craves is some recognition for how much time they put in for their family. This is a chance to show how much you appreciate them.
Making a gift purchase can take a long time and may involve many fruitless shopping expeditions. This is when you may question whether the whole process is even worth it, but if you choose a gift based on what your loved one needs, desires, or will appreciate, then you won’t be wasting your time.
Make a gift yourself and add custom hang tags to make it look professional, or put together a hamper with care. These gifts will show that you put the time into preparing something yourself. Choosing items based on environmental issues or charitable donations will show you listen and care. Or, just treat your Mother to a wonderful spa experience so she doesn’t have to worry about anyone but herself for a day.