How to give Christmas presents people really want

For lots of us, gift giving is a big part of Christmas. But how do you make sure you’re picking presents that people really want?

Buying the ‘right’ gift can feel like a lot of pressure, and I think most people have at least one person on their Christmas gift list who is particularly difficult to buy for – often because they already have everything they need.

It’s okay to ask for ideas

So I think it’s absolutely fine to ask people if there’s a specific gift they’d like from you.

If they’re happy to suggest something, I think that means they don’t mind it not being a surprise – and you can relax, knowing you’ve given them something they really want. 

When I asked on Instagram and Facebook, lots of you said you do this for at least some of the people you buy for; it’s a great strategy and I also ask quite a few family members and friends what they’d like for Christmas.

But there’s no denying that it’s lovely to see people’s look of surprise when they receive a present they aren’t expecting. So as well as getting them what they ask for, I usually buy them another, smaller, gift to add some extra Christmas magic.

How to make cash gifts interesting

Some of you mentioned that teenagers can be particularly difficult to buy for and, when asked what they’d like, they usually say cash.

This can feel like a really boring gift to give, but Katrina shared a brilliant idea on Facebook for making cash gifts more of an event: she never gives money in a card or envelope, instead stashing it inside another present.

She said: “Everyone now realises that if I give them a ‘weird’ gift, there’s cash hiding in there somewhere!”

Thanks for the great tip, Katrina!

What people really want for Christmas

If you’re still stumped and your recipient hasn’t given you any suggestions, I have some techniques to help you come up with gift ideas that will delight your loved ones on Christmas morning.

The best place to start is to think carefully about the person you’re buying for. 

Try spending five to 10 minutes writing down what makes them who they are. Have a really good think about their personality traits, hobbies and interests.

How do they like to relax? What are they passionate about? What’s been going on in their lives recently? 

Have they mentioned wanting or needing anything that might make a suitable present?

What’s unique about your relationship with this person and what would you like your gift to communicate to them?

Give the gift of fun

Next, looking at the ‘giftee profile’ you’ve created, write down present ideas that match their interests and passions. An internet search around a particular hobby can sometimes help spark inspiration. 

Do they love going to the theatre? If so, you could buy them tickets to the play they said they’d love to see. 

If they enjoy painting, perhaps a job lot of art materials would be a gift they’d appreciate throughout the coming year.

Practical presents aren’t boring

Or, if you know the person you’re buying for is struggling to make ends meet, a basket of everyday essentials or a supermarket gift card might really help them out. 

Try not to feel like this is a boring present – in this situation it’s a practical gift that will save them some stress and, I think, much more valuable than a luxury item that won’t help them pay the bills. 

Social media accounts and online outlets can help provide clues. For example, lots of people pin items they want to Pinterest boards and/or add things to an Amazon wishlist.

Provide time-saving solutions

If you’re finding the person you’re buying for already owns all the physical items they’ll ever need, ask yourself if they might be short on time instead.

You could buy them a service that will help save them time, or add thoughtfulness (and save yourself some money) and provide the time-saving service yourself.

For example, you could make your giftee some tasty meals they can re-heat and enjoy, saving them shopping and cooking time – or offer to babysit to give parents some precious time to themselves.

Alternatively, you could spend time creating a Spotify playlist of songs that are meaningful to you and your recipient, or curate a collection of podcasts or YouTube videos on a topic they’re passionate about. 

It won’t cost you any money, but your recipient will appreciate the time you’ve saved them – and the thought that’s gone into their gift.

Make meaningful memories

You might conclude your giftee would most value a gift that provides an experience – perhaps you could go to an event or take part in an activity together?

Being there gives you an opportunity to make the experience even more memorable by taking photos and/or videos and compiling them for your recipient as an extra, unexpected, present.

Add extra Christmas magic

Whether you opt for a physical gift, a time/money saver or an experience, I think it’s a nice touch to send a note describing the experiences you hope the present will provide, enhancing the gift’s meaning and thoughtfulness.

Creative or fun wrapping can also make the experience of receiving your gift an extra-special one.

For example, you could wrap your present in multiple sheets of wrapping paper with a small present or note hidden inside each layer.

Another option is to disguise a small present in a much larger box, or send your giftee on a scavenger hunt before they finally get to open their present. 

Above all, I encourage you to keep in mind that often the most precious gift you can give anyone is to simply spend some quality time with them.

I hope my tips provide you with some Christmas gift inspiration! 

Let me know how you get on – and also share any of your own strategies for those hard-to-buy-for family and friends.

Alex x

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