With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to think about Christmas gifts. We all want to give THE perfect gifts to our friends, family, clients and coworkers, but it’s not always easy to find something that’s sure to please.
Follow our guide to avoid common gift-giving pitfalls.
Laurence Bareil, known as the “Queen of Shopping,” insists: Christmas gift or not, the best way to shop is to follow a budget. “It should be as fun to give as it is to receive, so don’t bleed yourself dry!”
While it’s important to set a budget and follow it, Banlieusardises blogger Martine Gingras admits that it’s no easy task: “It’s all the more difficult, because there isn’t just ONE, but MANY good prices for each Christmas gift.” Between your spouse, kids, best friend, personal trainer and clients, it’s no walk in the park!
This is why Julie Blais Comeau, certified business etiquette and international protocol specialist, suggests writing a Christmas gift list based on the people who have made a difference in your life over the past year. But it’s important to consider how long these relationships have lasted and whether they have been on-and-off or steady.
“You wouldn’t give the same Christmas gift to someone you see every day that you would to casual friend you see two or three times a year,” states the founder of etiquettejulie.com. The same goes for the history of your relationship: there’s a big difference between knowing someone for three months and three decades!
Once you’re done mulling it over, divvy up your budget: spend more on people you know best, and less on casual acquaintances. Now for the shopping!
To avoid any gift-giving blunders with friends and family, Laurence Bareil follows her mother-in-law’s example. According to the co-author of the Bible du shopping intelligent (The Smart Shopping Bible, published by Parfum d’encre), “she listens to everything we say! She’s got gift-giving radar, always taking note of what we need.”
She believes the key is to pay attention to your giftees 365 days a year. “It’s easier to have ten good ideas in six months than in six weeks, or worse – six days!” she affirms. Martine Gingras chimes in: “The best time to save is a few months before Christmas.”
There is one thing we know for sure: Christmas is on December 25th again this year. It’s scheduled. So why wait until the last minute to buy your gifts? Whether she’s shopping online or in-store, when Martine Gingras finds something she thinks would be a good Christmas gift, she doesn’t hesitate for a second and pulls out her credit card. “Instead of spending the money later, you should buy right at that moment, even if it’s only March,” she claims.
It is also true with delivery delays that you want to avoid when you shop online for Christmas.
Using your own talent and creativity to make a gift with your own hands can surprise the person in your life who has everything. “Wealthier people who seem to have everything will often be very touched by a thoughtful little something rather than a sensational gift,” explains Laurence Bareil. “Time and effort will impress them more than the latest gadget.”
Plus, the person who has everything definitely doesn’t have the homemade jar of jam that you prepared or the sweater that you knit. “This is what I call investing yourself instead of investing your money,” states Martine Gingras, who believes that over the last few years, handmade gifts have become a big trend.
Can you give a gift card without giving the impression that you were too lazy to go shopping? According to Laurence Bareil, of course you can! You just have to play down the gesture. “Just take a few moments to customize the wrapping paper, create a nice card, and make it look like you put some thought into it.”
Why not put your kids to work? “They love drawing, so why not ask them to make you some original cards?” Martine Gingras adds.
Another complicated Christmas gift is a bottle of wine. Do some research so it doesn’t look like you just picked up the gift on the way. “Also, don’t be afraid to get creative and offer beer, spirits or other alcohol-related products, like mixology or sommelier training,” suggests Martine Gingras.
If your gifts always end up at the back of someone’s closet, maybe you should think about opting for experiences. After all, the happiness we get from material goods is short-lived compared to our life experiences, according to Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a Cornell University psychologist who has been studying the topic for decades.
“Above all, the holiday season is a time to make memories together,” states Julie Blais Comeau, who thinks an out-of-the-ordinary group outdoor excursion or concert might be just the ticket. For example, if your brother is really passionate about renovations, why not set him up with a professional? Or you could follow Martine Gingras’ lead and give a book of coupons (snow removal, catering, etc.) to your aging parents.
Laurence Bareil couldn’t agree more with these ideas. “Plus, it doesn’t even have to cost anything. Give it value,” she states, giving the example of a volunteer activity. The icing on the cake? You won’t have to worry about your experience going for $5 at a garage sale down the road!
To sum-up, from all this gift-giving advice, we would be wise to choose a gift that commemorates another person. Also, if there isn’t a specific reason for buying that particular person the gift you’re eyeing, it’s not a gift worth slipping under the Christmas tree!
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