30 Day Writing Challenge Day 4 - The Perfect Gift

While casting around for the perfect prompt for today, I stumbled across this one.  The holiday season is here and I'm still trying to sort out the few gifts I need to buy, and worrying if what I bought will be enjoyed.  If it inspired an idea for a story in you as well, go for it. And be sure to share a link to your piece in the comments section so I can read it.
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The Perfect Gift

I have a serious love/hate relationship with gift giving.  Doesn't everyone?  It doesn't matter if it's for a birthday, religious holiday, anniversary or special occasion - it's is either a triumphant "I FOUND IT" joyous experience, or a frantic "I CAN'T FIND ANYTHING" nightmare.

When it goes well, giving gifts hits all the right notes for me. I love finding just the perfect present and watching someone's face light up with a smile when they open it. All's right with the world. Shopping is an intuitive experience for me when it works. I might be thinking about someone and an idea pops into my head - this is it, EUREKA! I do a little online searching to find where it is sold and either pick it up in store or have it mailed directly to my home. 

Another way it happens easily is when I am out exploring just for fun and see a gift that brings someone to mind. I instantly think, "Oh they would love this."  If the price is right, I purchase it and tuck it into my gift closet with their name on it to give to them at a future date. Yes, I do keep a small supply of gifts in my closet as I can't always find stuff I like at the last minute. This puts me ahead of the game as I don't have to run out last minute in a frantic search. It's saved my bacon more than once.

Now for when it works badly.  There you sit with a holiday, a birthday or special event looming and not a single idea. You're blank and uninspired.  Going online and exploring gift lists doesn't help. Walking through stores doesn't help. This is such an uncomfortable place for me.  And as a mother, this is the norm for times like the holidays. I have several adult kids to buy for - not easy. Usually I have a great idea for 1 or 2, but am lost when it comes to the others.  

Wandering malls/stores can be such a depressing time as well when nothing is catching your eye.  Days pass, the deadline is coming and there you are with a mind that is blank looking in all the stores yet again, hoping for inspiration. As someone who really trusts my intuition in this area, it's so disturbing to only hear crickets.

Time to take the pressure off and give yourself a break.  Here are some tools I use. They don't work all the time, but they seriously reduce the times I'm at a loss. 
  • I have learned to shop all year for times like Christmas. When I leave it to the last minute, I'm sure to be frustrated and spend way too much throwing money at the problem. 
  • Keep your eyes open when you're out, especially at craft fairs and holiday markets.  Look at what is for sale with an eye to what others might like.
  • Some years I have a theme to my family gift giving such as books, Eco items for the kitchen such as beeswax wrap to use instead of plastic, picnic supplies, pajamas, things to wear in cold weather, etc. 
  • It's also okay in some circumstances to ask for ideas, especially with adult kids who no longer live at home.
  • If they drink, a great bottle of their favourite wine or spirit or a nice holiday liquor is a good choice. Just make sure it's one they personally like.
  • Gift cards are sometimes the right choice.  I know, I know - it always feels more special to find that perfect gift, but when you can't find it, let go and go with what works. My husband is trying to upgrade his golf clubs.  So a gift card for the large golf store near us lets him go in, try the clubs to see which is best and purchase it during the huge January sales where he'll get a better deal.
  • For occasions that have gift registries, use them if they have something in your price range. If it is all too expensive as them to add some lower priced items or give them a gift card to the store the registry is at.
  • Last but not least, I always let people know they are free to return it (be sure to include the return receipt) or give it away (for non-returnable items) if it's not the right choice. My joy is giving them something to open, so let them know they are cherished.  If they love it, makes my day. But I don't want them to feel they have to pretend to like a gift or something they don't love.
If you have a tip, I'd love to hear it. Share it in the comments to this article.  And if I get enough I'll do a part B sharing your tips, just be sure I have your first name to credit.