Christmas Shopping: Five Rules to Buying the Perfect Gift

What’s that? You haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet? That’s understandable, since it can be so challenging to choose just the right present for every special person in your life. We’ve all received ugly sweater and other less desirable presents around this time of year, so it’s about time that we figure out how to give the perfect Christmas gift.

Instead of putting together a traditional gift guide for this blog, like I did for fighting game fans on Futurelooks, I thought it may be more helpful to put together a guide that is more general in scope.

1. Get It Done Early

I guess it may be a little too late for this first piece of advice, but it certainly pays to get your shopping done earlier on in the season. I don’t expect you to start thinking about your Christmas shopping in September, but you will want to avoid putting it off until the very last minute.

By getting it done earlier, you have the opportunity to do a little more comparison shopping and, thus, you can save some money too. This also means that you won’t end up giving just any old thing because you ran out of time.

2. Make It Personal

They say that it’s better to give than to receive. While it may be nice to receive generic gifts that would be suitable for just about everyone, a much better gift is the one that has been personalized in some way for the recipient.

This doesn’t mean that it has to be engraved, but do pay some extra attention to personal interests and preferences. Anyone can give a Starbucks gift card, but it’s another thing altogether when you know which blend they prefer or what style of tumbler they like to use.

3. Choose What They Wouldn’t Buy Themselves

For me, the perfect gift is something that the recipient really wants but cannot get for whatever reason. This could be a financial issue, as may be the case with a hot new laptop, but there could be other issues involved.

Let’s say that someone has been yearning for a new Vancouver Canucks jersey, but he’s having a hard time justifying the $100+ price tag for something that he may not wear all that often. It’s not that he can’t afford it, per se; it’s that he can’t convince himself to buy it. Maybe someone has been clinging to an ancient piece of technology and she needs that extra nudge to upgrade. Whatever the case, it’s something that they probably want but may not buy for themselves.

4. Forget about the Cash Value

It’s really easy to get hung up on the price tag. Many people assume that a great gift cannot be given without breaking the bank and that’s simply not the case. There are lots of ways to save money on holiday shopping while still providing a very valued and treasured gift. Played correctly, regifting may be a viable option.

One of the more interesting examples of this may be a fictional one, but it illustrates my point perfectly. Do you remember the episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns, the richest man in town, loses himself thinking back to a ratty, old teddy bear from his childhood? The actual teddy bear, Bobo, may only be worth a few dollars, but it meant the world to him.

5. Pick Something They’ll Actually Use

Sometimes, gag gifts can be a lot of fun, but they are ultimately a waste of money. It’s very unlikely that they’ll be put to good use beyond the unwrapping day. Instead, think about something that may actually be useful to the recipient. Is it something that they’ll actually keep and use?

This is partly the reason why so many people have resorted to gift cards in recent years. Instead of buying a $20 shirt from a random retailer (that the recipient may not like), they give a $20 gift card that can then be used during Boxing Day sales to buy two shirts (that the person chooses for herself).

Realistically, gifts are gifts, but the true spirit of Christmas comes from spending quality time with your treasured friends and your loving family. Isn’t that the best present of all?