It’s not long until the big day! How did that happen? December always seems to fly by – and, for me, this year has certainly been no exception.
How are you doing with your festive preparations? I have a few last minute bits and pieces to buy – and quite a few presents to wrap – but I feel like I’m getting there.
Giving gifts is an enduring festive tradition, and the joy we get from watching loved ones open them is a magical part of Christmas Day.
However, there’s one present-related task that – even now – I occasionally leave longer than I’d like: buying presents for difficult-to-buy-for people.
You’re probably not surprised to learn that I enter the names of everyone I’m buying gifts for onto a spreadsheet!
I include ideas for what each person might like, and – when I’ve done my Christmas shopping – what they’ll receive from me this year.
In most cases I know instantly what gift each friend and family member will really appreciate, but there are always one or two people for whom I lack inspiration.
That difficult box on the spreadsheet remains blank for weeks.
This isn’t necessarily because the person in question is fussy or not appreciative (though I’m sure some of you have someone on your list like this!), it’s just that they don’t have a particular hobby or passion I can tap into.
Or sometimes it’s because I haven’t seen them for a while, so it’s harder to know what their current wants or needs might be (particularly true in 2020).
I don’t know about you, but this last minute ‘tricky’ present-buying situation is when I’m most at risk of panic buying.
This type of shopping trip (or online shopping) can be stressful and expensive – and when you’re in this mindset you’re unlikely to end up buying the best gifts.
However, it doesn’t have to be like this. Here’s what to do:
- First of all, write down the names of the people you still need to buy for – and how much you can afford to spend on each gift. Take a deep breath and have a focussed think about what each person might like. Just because you’re short on time doesn’t mean your gift has to be short on Christmas spirit – no one wants to open a gift that could have been for anyone
- Remember – depending on your skill-level and how much time you have available – you could still hand make something for the ultimate personal touch
- If you haven’t seen someone for a while, their social media profiles can be a good hunting ground for finding out what they might like. For example, you might discover they’ve recently taken up a new hobby, or made a comment about something they’d like to get their hands on
- Lots of magazines have features on themed or unusual gift ideas, so have a look at those for some inspiration, or do some website research
- Where possible, shop sustainably – and try to buy from local, independent businesses and charity shops or websites. Now, more than ever, they need all the support they can get and it’s more likely you’ll be giving an original and considered Christmas present
- It might be that the thing your recipient would appreciate most is the gift of your time – could a fun activity (when allowed) be the best present you could give? Options include spending time together over a meal, attending a cookery workshop, or going on a day trip
- Magazine subscriptions, food and drink boxes, hobby-related vouchers and theatre tokens are also good last-minute gift options (but do bear in mind the risk of companies going out of business, especially at the moment)
- Some people might appreciate you making a donation to a charity of their choice in lieu of a gift
- If you’re still struggling, I suggest you simply ask your difficult-to-buy-for person for some ideas. Most people won’t mind, you’ll save mental energy trying to work out what to buy – and they’ll receive something they actually want
- Finally, it might be too late in the day to instigate this year, but if you find it that difficult to buy someone a gift, would it be worth having a conversation about not exchanging gifts in future? You might find they are as relieved as you are that the pressure is off…
Happy (calm!) shopping!