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8 ways to be the world’s best gift giver

ILLUSTRATION BY TWYLAMAE
WORDS BY ALYCE GREER

’Tis the season.

It’s Christmas morning and your household is gathered around the tree, awkwardly watching on as each family member takes their turn to publicly unwrap and react to their presents.

You’ve practised your fake surprise, which is perfect, because you’re up next.

As everyone grins at you with anticipation, you open your present from Aunt Gladys – a notoriously bad gift giver – and find a $5 novelty mug that was definitely purchased from the servo on the way over. Without you even realising, your voice has jumped up three octaves, you’re nervously laughing, and you’re lying about how much you love this gift that will never see the light of day.

This Christmas, don’t be an Aunt Gladys. Be the World’s Best Gift Giver. Here are eight tips to get you started.

Pay attention to what they complain about

If you’re clever, you will have made a list in your phone of everyone you need to buy for this year, from your dad to your sister-in-law to your boss. If not, make one now. Next, recall your conversations: what have they mentioned they’d love to buy if they could afford it, or what have they complained about constantly? Figure out how you can solve their issues with a big ol’ present. You’ll get extra snaps for being so thoughtful.

Sign up to e-newsletters from their fave stores

Sure, you’re a bit late to the party but there’s still time. At this point in the year, stores are sending out rapid-fire newsletters full of gift guides, sales and member-only offers, so brainstorm a few shops where your giftees spend all their money, and sign up. Then actually read the emails when they arrive in your inbox.

Snoop through their social media accounts

Highly unethical but very effective, a quick scroll through your giftee’s Instagram likes and tags can be all you need to find the ultimate gift. When your best friend goes to the bathroom, grab their phone (you know the code) and do some digging, then jot down a note in your own phone. While you’re there, leave a few annoying selfies on the camera roll.

Ask google for inspiration

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and one of my favourite desperate measures is asking Mr. Google. Type in key terms and phrases about your giftee, like ‘creative gifts for graphic designers’ or ‘best gifts under $50 for mum’. Change your search location to Australia and browse through a bunch of gift guides other people have lovingly put together for lazy people like you.

Think practical, not keepsake

There’s a bit of a misconception that Christmas gifts need to be thoughtful and memorable; a keepsake the giftee will hold close to their heart for all of eternity. But what happened to practical? Handy? Useful? Really think about your giftee and how they spend their day – do they drink coffee, work in an office, go to the gym? Research to find something that would make their daily activities just that little bit better or easier. For example, if they do in fact drink coffee, a gift card to their local cafe or a KeepCup would be perfect. If it’s something they wouldn’t normally purchase for themselves, you’re on the money.

Always attach a heartfelt card

Just because you’re not obliged to give a heartfelt gift, doesn’t mean you can do the same with your card. Rule #1 of card-giving: the cringey pre- written message inside the card does not count as your message. You do not have permission to simply add ‘To Mum’ and ‘From me’. With the time you’ve saved trying to come up with a thoughtful present, use it on writing a short but meaningful message with specific mentions on why they’re the best.

Monogram their initials

If there’s one thing that can make a boring ass gift turn extra AF, it’s monogrammed initials. Notebooks. Bathrobes. Drink bottles. Undies. Whether you just want to fancy-fy a present you know they want or need, or literally can’t come up with anything more creative, monogramming their initials works every time.

When in doubt, gift an experience

Presents are great and all, but have you ever received an experience voucher? This year, avoid spending the entire month of December trying to come up with a genius present your giftee will probably return anyway, and organise an experience instead. If they’re a foodie, book them into the newest restaurant in town. If they love their getaways, send them to a winery. If they’re always trying new things, sign them up to a pottery class. It’ll be way more thoughtful, and you might just get a new mug out of it too.

This feature was originally published in Fashion Journal 186. You can read it here.

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