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Have you ever received a gift from someone and wondered, “What were they thinking?”

This is the time of year that stores love — People are out shopping big time for that special gift(s) to give their family, friends, and sometimes co-workers. I know with a gift it’s supposed to be the thought that counts, but sometimes the message received is “I really wasn’t thinking about you at all. I just wanted to grab this gift to say I got you something.” I still remember the Christmas when my hubby received a cumberbun from a close family member. We both thought, “What were they thinking?” Where was he going to wear it? It’s not like we were going to formal occasions that required one to wear a tuxedo and cumberbun. After all the gifts over the years, I’ve come to realize that some people just don’t have a knack for gift-giving. I’m not an expert but my mother and I have been told “you always give good gifts.” So I thought about it and put together some tips on the art of gift giving.

The Art of Gift Giving

1 – It’s not about you – Giving a gift is about the other person (the receiver), not about you. Get a gift you think the other person will like, not just something you want them to have because you like it. Actually think about what you know about the other person. Do they have any hobbies, are they avid readers, do they collect anything, do they love to cook, fish, play video games, love clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc.

2 – Spend only what you can afford – Do not go into debt to buy presents. An inexpensive gift can be just as special. Sometimes the simplest things are the best things. For example, a framed photo of someone special to them; a grocery store gift certificate.

3 – Listen – Listen when people talk. They will usually tell you about themselves and what they like, and what, if any, hobbies they have or activities they enjoy (for example: going to the theatre, watching movies, playing video games, traveling, reading, music, hiking, biking, etc.)

4 – Observe – When you are with that person, or are in that person’s home, observe your surroundings. You can get a feel for what they like and even for what may be missing that they could use. For example: You can see the person likes Yankee Candles, collects Lladros or Hummels or anything else. You might see that they could use a new pair of gloves, coat, hat, wallet, television, dvr, cd player, dvd player, ipod, electric knife, dishes, silverware, towels, tools, watch, clock, etc. – you get the picture).

5 – Fill a need – People will tell you what’s going on in their lives and what they think they need. You may know that the person is going through a difficult time financially and money would be just the right gift for them. Or maybe they are saving up for something special. Who doesn’t like getting money?

6 – Ask – Ask the person what they would like as a gift. You can say something like “What’s on your birthday, Christmas or whatever, wish list this year?”

7 – Be practical – Give the person something they can use. Keep in mind: Not everyone likes fruit cake or your cooking. My father once had a co-worker that liked to give baked goods on special occasions. The only problem was that none of her co-workers liked the taste of her cooking. She must’ve been trying to make things from scratch. Besides burning it, how else do you mess up cookies?

8 – Splurge – Give the person something special that you know they like but can’t afford, or can afford but wouldn’t spend the money on for themselves. For example: A Coach bag, or some other designer handbag; Tickets to a ball game, concert or a play, etc.

9 – Be sentimental – Someone once told me that one of the best gifts they ever received was from her best friend. She had known her friend since college and now they are grown up, working, and married with children. Her friend made her a (Creative Memories) Photo Book that documented special occasions and words said during the course of their friendship. My daughter and I have since made a special photo book (hardcover with binding and everything) documenting the lives of my mother and aunt. We’ve also done books for others and it seems to have gone over quite well. Sometimes I think I see a little tear forming in their eyes.

Do you have any other tips for gift giving?

FREE:
Frugal and Homemade gift ideas e-book: The ABC’s of Christmas Gift Giving

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Although this doesn’t follow with my usual format, I want to tell you about a website I heard about on the news. Yes, something actually good on the news. There is a website named PaperBack Swap where you can trade books (paper, hardback, audio cd, audio cassette), dvd’s and cd’s for free. There is no cost to join. The site has a video which explains how it works. I haven’t tested it, but it looks like it’s pretty easy to do. Check out the site for yourself at www.paperbackswap.com.

Mail a book. Get a book. Any book you request is yours to keep, share or trade. No late fees. No processing charges. No hidden charges. Every time you mail a book to another member, you can request one for yourself from over 3 Million. www.paperbackswap.com

Swap CDs with other club members and get the music mailed directly to you. www.swapacd.com

Swap DVDs with other club members and get movies mailed directly to you. www.swapadvd.com

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