Gift-Giving This Holiday Season (or any time!!) - Don't stress!!!

Nov 3, 2009 (Updated Dec 22, 2009)

The Bottom Line Don't stress!  If you know what the person likes, it's pretty easy to pick something for them.  If not, then stick to the basics.

Holiday Shopping.  Just the thought can cause stress levels to rise in even the most easy-going people.  And why not?  We put such pressures on ourselves (and sometimes each other) to come up with gifts for people - year after year.  And when you buy for the same people over and over again, it can start to feel like there's simply nothing left to get them!

I find the easiest way to come up with gifts that people will like, is to simply think about what hobbies they enjoy, then buy a gift that somehow supports that activity.  Of course, this assumes that you actually know what the person likes.  If you're buying a gift for someone you barely know, the task becomes that much more difficult, and you should probably stick with the standards - picture frame, candle, vase, pen set, and stationery are just a few "generic" ideas.  Nothing that will likely offend anyone.

But when buying for people you know well, let their own hobbies be your guide.

For instance, anyone who knows me knows that if I can read it, watch it, listen to it, eat it, display it, or get a massage from it, I'll probably like it. 

Books are extremely easy to choose, if you know the person's favorite genre.  And even if you guess wrong, or they already have it, books can usually be exchanged, as long as they've not been damaged.  Books can also support other hobbies, even if the person isn't an avid reader.  Do they grow orchids?  Watch birds?  Love cats?  So-called "coffee-table" books can delight any of these enthusiasts.  Then there are "practical" books, too, such as cook books, how-to books, any number of "...For Dummies" books, and even joke books and puzzle books.  Easy to find, easy to wrap, and easy to exchange, if necessary.  Books make terrific gifts!

Then there are people who love to watch stuff.  Movies and TV shows can make great gifts, assuming you know the person's taste.  Entire collections of some shows, such as Seinfeld and Friends can be expensive, but individual seasons are usually pretty reasonable.  I like collections of movies with similar themes, or starring the same actor.  Sets of Bruce Willis movies, for example, or several Star Trek movies make great gifts, again, depending on what the person likes. 

Then there's music.  I used to buy a lot of CDs for people, but these days, I'm more likely to buy them accessories for the mp3 players, if I know what they own.  Or, I like to buy them their first mp3 player, if they don't have one yet.  Even the most unlikely people can learn to appreciate an mp3 player, especially if you pre-load it with stuff you know they enjoy. 

Food and drink can make lovely gifts, that are tasty as well as practical.  Baskets with nuts, fruit, crackers, cheese, and chocolates can be purchased in pretty much any size and style you like.  Or, if you're just a bit creative, you can make gift baskets for a fraction of the cost.  The best baskets are ones that really cater to the person's individual tastes.  Hopefully you know if the person drinks coffee or tea.  Are they allergic to nuts?  A vegetarian?  Lactose-intolerant?  Diabetic?  This is truly a case of the more you know about the person, the better your gift basket will be.

If you know the person collects something - anything - it's usually a nice idea to add to their collection.  For instance, anyone who's been to my house can't help but notice the glass and crystal figurines.  Other people collect dolls, Disney items, magnets, or stuffed animals.  If you go to someone's home, and you see a collection proudly displayed, it's a pretty good bet that they'll appreciate your addition to their collection. 

And, finally, some people really enjoy at-home massages.  For my achy feet and shoulders, there's nothing like a Shiatsu massager.  These machines come in many different styles, with a huge price range.  So try to figure out what the person might actually use, before spending a ton of money of one of these machines.

Whatever you decide to give, remember that it's the thought that counts.  Enjoy your holidays - spend them with people who make you smile, and don't stress about the gifts!

Here are some reviews that may help you pick some gifts this year:

My book reviews

My movie reviews

Microsoft Zune 30
  Zune Speaker
  Zune Accessory Kit

iNeed Shiatsu Foot Massager

Ottoman Foot and Calf Massager

Homedics Shiatsu Massager Pillow

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