Be the Best Gift-Giver, EVER: Sneaky Tips On How To Buy Presents That Won't Get Returned

Be the Best Gift-Giver, EVER: Sneaky Tips On How To Buy Presents That Won't Get Returned

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Marlen Komar
Nov 22, 2016

Holiday season is just around the corner, and with it comes a game plan on how to surprise and delight your closest and most favorite people. While dresses are already being bookmarked online and pennies are being saved for quirky books and impressive gadgets, there's always that one wild card on your list that trips you up every year. What do you get that one person that seems to hate everything? Are you tired of watching their tense smile move across their face as they open yet another lemon of a gift from you?

Well I've got you, friend. This is the year we get them—they'll be doing handsprings underneath the tree by the time we get through with them. Below are seven sneaky tips on how to buy presents that won't get returned, no matter how fussy your Nice List is.

1. Make A List That Defines Who They Are

Make this as long and as random as you can—it'll help you think of a lot of cool ideas you might not have been able to touch on without the brainstorming session. For example, maybe the obvious eccentricities of your friend revolve around pug-lover, Stranger Things enthusiast, and accountant. Cool.

But if you keep going you also remember she has an amazing gallery wall she keeps adding to in her living room (you can get her a cool poster from Etsy), is the one that gets all your friends together when you're busy (get her a quirky board game), loves to write on her spare time (a cool typewriter would be amazing), and loves reading classic literature (get a book with a reworked, artistic cover). Now you've got more options.

2. Hit Them In The Feels

A sentimental gift is rarely a dud, so see what emotions you can tap into. Do they have a past or present pet they love? Then get an artist off of Etsy to create a quirky print of ol' Fido. Do they have a specific vacation they always talk about? Steal one of their more impressive snaps off of Instagram and turn it into a canvas print. Do they have a favorite book they used to read as a kid? See if you can find a copy. Was there a specific artist their mom used to play non-stop in the house when they were little? Give them the feels by buying a vinyl or CD in it. If you know them well, this would be a great avenue to explore.

3. Stalk Their Wishlists

If the person you're shopping for is a close friend, significant other, or family member, ask to use their computer or phone and go to their favorite stores' websites. Pop over to Etsy, Amazon, Zara, Madewell, whatever! Chances are they have a couple of things favorited on the site, which you can snap up and get for them.

4. Go Cruising Through Their Pinterest

Pinterest boards are testaments to our tastes, so whether boards revolve around clothes, home décor, hobbies, or books, you'll find a goldmine of either actual items they want, or ideas on what their specific aesthetics are. For example, if you see they keep pinning outfits revolving around giant knit scarves, hop on Etsy and find one similar. Or if you notice they've been pinning rooms with yarn hangings but don't have one yet, there's your gift!

5. See What They Like On Instagram

A lot of people follow stores or bloggers on Instagram, so keep an eye on their profile to see what they've been liking or commenting on recently. You can do that by clicking the heart icon on the app that shows your notifications, and switching from "you" to "following"—but be warned you'll have to do this daily, since the list refreshes. While that might involve a lot of snooping, the gains could be worth it. (Or, if you're really dedicated to finding the perfect gift, create a fresh dummy Instagram account and follow only them to see only their likes in your "following" notifications.)

For example, if they liked specific items from a shop's Instagram, put that onto your list. If they told someone they absolutely LOVED their dress, tap to see where they got it, and snap it up for them.

6. Gift Them An Experience

While a certain shoe or cut of a sweater might not fit their aesthetic, an experience is always appreciated. For example, if your dad loves drinking beer, get him an at-home brew kit that you can make together. If your friend loves an excuse to dress up, buy her a git card for a high tea you can go to together, or if your friend is a health nut, get them a week pass at the hip new workout studio in the city. They'll be hard pressed to find something to not like about it.

7. Think Of What They Wish They Had More Time For

We all have little rant-fests to our friends on what we wish we had more time for: More time to learn guitar, to go to the gym, to read, to crochet; the list goes on. You can use that information to get them the present of the year.

Make a catalog of all the things your person has mentioned they want to make time to do, and then get them the starter kit that will force them to make it a priority. For example, say the hobby they're neglecting is reading. Your kit could include a quirky book lover's cup, yummy coffee they can make in it, a book they've had their eye on, and then a cozy blanket they could curl up under. Giving them so many treats around the single book will push them to actually crack it open and enjoy it – and keep the habit going with the other novels on their nightstand.

Keep these tips handy next time you're faced with buying a present for a tricky person—this could be the year you finally nail them!

What's your best advice for finding the perfect gift?

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