Getting Past Some Old Cliches about Gift-Giving

Getting Past Some Old Cliches about Gift-Giving

Today’s feature was brought to you by Ziftit

I’m not sure exactly what happened, or when, but somewhere along the line we lost the “art” of gift giving and it became a chore. Which is a shame – it should be a joy, a pleasure, a bit of fun finding a little gift to treat someone special.

Today I’d like to smash some of those gift-giving cliches. Let’s get started.

getting past gift giving cliches

First, can we stop with the gifting stereotypes, please?

I really am sick of the gift stereotypes that continue to perpetuate our culture. You know the ones: the ladies all want aprons and perfume and bath salts, the men want cuff links and lawn mowing equipment, and kids get candy on their birthdays. It’s even hard to find a card these days that doesn’t comply with these biases.

I highly encourage you to skip the stereotypes and pick your gifts based on the recipient’s personal interests and desires, not their gender or societal role. If mom needs a tie for her improv class, awesome. If dad wants fuzzy bunny slippers, go out and find ’em.

Secondly, get past that “I don’t want anything” problem.

When someone says they don’t want or need anything, that might be true. However, everybody loves to feel appreciated, and your job as a Plum Deluxe gift giving expert is to not think about “what does _____ want since they don’t want anything,” but ask yourself “what could I do/get/give for ______________ that would totally surprise/please/thank them for what they do?”

See how changing the question changes the perspective? The fact is that most folks, even if they’re on a penny-pinching budget, are able to get the things they need and want (except for those long-term savings pushes, like vacations-of-a-lifetime). The goal of gift-giving is not about filling a physical need or desire, but providing an emotional response to thank or appreciate.

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Tips for High Quality Gift Giving

Now that I’ve rattled on about gift giving, let’s talk about some positive tips for better gift giving. We’ve partnered with Ziftit, a site designed to eliminate the guesswork of gift giving and demystify the gift giving experience. Their site allows you to send friends and family members a list of gifts that you want, and vice versa, you can ask someone to signup and create a zift (gift) list. The list can be tied to an event, an occasion, or my favorite: “just because.” Here’s an example of some of the items you can find via search:

ziftit search

Along with Ziftit, some additional gift-giving thoughts to consider:

  • The best way to find out what to give as a gift is to look at your gift recipient’s current habits. You can ask someone what kinds of gifts they want, but maybe they’re resisting a Ziftit account and they don’t have a “stuff you should buy me” Pinterest board. I’m one of those people – to me that’s too much bragging and I’d shy away from it. If you are trying to buy for someone like that, you need to watch their current habits. What magazines do they read/subscribe to? Where do they go out to eat, or what’s running low in their home bar? Their current activities will tell you a lot more about what to get them than anything they’ll self-identify.
  • Consider events that have a more meaningful impact than more traditional days of celebration. I used to manage a team of employees that were all from different countries, and we had a tradition of celebrating the national holidays of each person. It was a lot of fun because of all the unique foods and treats, but it was also a reminder that not everyone has the same background and perspective. What’s important to your gift recipient? (Tip: Ziftit has a spot to track “occasions,” so you can plan ahead.)
  • Remember, gifts do not have to be physical items. Experiences, like a weekend getaway or cooking lessons, are often the best gifts (especially since companies have now figured out that making their product easy to gift is a good thing). And if you truly can’t figure out what to gift someone, how about making a donation on their behalf to a charity or cause that is near and dear to their beliefs? (Ziftit offers you the option to donate to those in need, such as the recent tornado victims in the Midwest.)
What tools do you use for gift-giving? Any good tips? Join the conversation over on our Facebook wall.

Getting Past Some Old Cliches about Gift-Giving

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe. He authors our award-winning weekly email newsletter, The Blend and curates our popular organic tea of the month club.

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