Stressed about shopping Christmas gifts again? Don’t know what to get to all of those people? This is how I do my gift shopping to ensure the best gifts and maximum productivity.
I write down all the people that have been nice to me this year and deserve a gift. Then I scratch everyone to whom due to circumstances X, Y and Z I can’t deliver the gift. In other words, remove all the names that are not 100% relevant.
I go through the list to see if I know what I’m going to get some the people. All of that should be order online immediately. And if you don’t find it online you should get those things at the shops first. This is to ensure that you will actually get those items. These people are usually the most important ones anyway.
Then there is still 80% of the people left. This is the tough part. You don’t know what to get them, you don’t know what they need or what they want. One option is to ask them but then where’s the surprise?
The truth is you actually know quite a lot about these people. You know their interests, what they did this year, who’s their favorite author or singer, that they like Volvo cars, what their dreams are and so on. But you don’t really remember these things separately. And this is where I’m letting you in on my secret. After all, I’m allegedly one of the greatest gift shoppers of all time.
Choose a day when you really have some time to wander around. At least two hours but preferably four. The more people on the list the more time you need.
Choose a location where there are many stores that sell miscellaneous items such as Target, Marshall’s, Wal-Mart to name a few. It’s also useful if you have some specialty stores available as well. I start with the best store and slowly start walking through the store. I basically scan every item they have. Mostly the interesting items are on the bottom shelves. That’s where they have the surprising and cool stuff that you can identify with the people on the list. Identification being the key here.
It seems weird at first but the idea behind it is simple. You have just spent some time going through the list of people you shop for. They are in your mind and at a subconscious level they still lurk on top. When you slowly scan the items you play the game of associations. And most of the time it just hits you.
It’s funny that the right item usually isn’t the thing that you are looking at. It just so happens that the item reminds you of what the person would really enjoy. And then you go get that one instead. Sometimes though, it’s the very item you are looking at.
If you really want to take it to the next level then you personalize the item. Add something self made for example. But this is optional and will take a lot more time.
Don’t stress the gifting. It’s fun and you can get people you like something nice. Trust your gut feeling on this.
Paul Rauno Merisalu December 20th, 2012