Gifts — What to buy or not buy (generalities & etiquette)

How do you know what to get your friends and family. This is for things like: Holidays, birthdays, and special events like graduation, baby showers, and milestones i.e. religious/personal/etc

First, communicate…

It solves a lot of issues. You want to make sure you get what they want, while not getting what others are getting them. In general, its best to get it strait from the horses mouth. Remember playing telephone when you were a kid? By the time the phrase makes it back to you, the words have drastically changed. Sometimes they change to the point of meaning the opposite of what they started as.

Ways to communicate:

  1. You can still communicate via friends; just use caution, and take it with a grain of salt.
  2. Check out wish lists. Amazon, blogs, registries, etc. These are ways to make sure you get what they want, and avoid duplication — Often they have a way to mark down that you got an item even if it wasn’t at the store.
  3. Be direct.
  4. Find out why!!!!

Follow there requests!

  • Often there is a reason behind there choices. If they have an MP3 player on there list, they may want that specific one.
    • Do they already have one?
    • Perhaps they want to splurge on something they might not otherwise.
    • Maybe they just need a backup?
    • If you can get a cheap one it may be a let down, and you just wasted your money!
    • Heck, if you get the top of the line, they may not want that one. Remember communicate, there may be a specific feature they want. i.e. portability, extra storage, or something else only that one model has. Perhaps they just don’t want to feel obligated or in debt because you spent so much. Sure its a gift, but they will still probably feel like they owe you something… That is NOT good!!!
  • Never buy something living!!!
    • If they request it, then its ok, but communicate, and get there request. Find out why? What they want, etc.
    • If you want to teach them, i.e. kids, communicate the options. You may push them to an easy animal, but if its not what they want, you might as well not get them anything.
    • Buying kids something is like buying something for someone else… So now you are buying mom, dad, brother sister, etc something living!!!
    • Your best bet is to let them go with you when you pick the creature out! Make it there choice.

What to avoid… or not avoid… to do:

Gift cards: cash and gift cards are great. They can be used in any way, but its the lame way out. Sure you can direct them to something, but if they don’t use it, you just wasted your money. Gift cards often sit there unused. They have fees, or can not be completely used. If you are going to give cash, give cold hard cash.

Instead, give them a day with you. It may or may not work well. Again, feel things out. It works with my dad. I didn’t live with him, but shopping together gave us a day together. Perhaps a good dinner.

Living things are a big no (see above)

Something is better than nothing. Sometimes socks and underwear are great, sometimes they are in insult. Sometimes they have particular things that they can’t stand. Boxers vs briefs (what kind of briefs)… Fun vs. Functional. What about that seam in the toe some people can’t live with?


This is a first draft. Its something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, but finally started actually putting in the written word.

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