Welcome to my guide on how to give great gifts! I've received feedback in my life that I give good gifts, so I thought I'd write down how I do it as a gift to you. I hope you enjoy the Good Gift-Givers Great Gift Giving Guide (or as I call it, The 7G!):
(and if you have someone on your list who likes innovative lighting, check out DiscoChristmas)
Preface: The Power of Gifts
Gifts are powerful. Gifts can bring joy, cement relationships, and even change the world.
A great gift is sometimes remembered forever, maybe even cherished lovingly after your death.
A great gift can celebrate a person, a relationship, a moment in time, or an achievement, and sometimes all of the above.
A great gift can remind someone how much you care, maybe even for decades into the future.
A great gift can produce laughter and joy for years.
A great gift can challenge someone to be everything you see them to be.
A great gift can strengthen a relationship by demonstrating deep care and understanding.
A great gift can be nurturing, and lead someone lovingly towards something they really want but can’t seem to give to themselves.
A great gift can help someone reach their potential.
Gifts are powerful. They can establish a relationship, upgrade a relationship, or cement a relationship. Forever.
But with power comes responsibility. If you’d like to become someone who is known for reliably giving great gifts, read on. You will be glad you did.
Part 1 - Introduction
Giving good gifts is a skill that can bring everyone involved a lot of joy.
However buying gifts for someone you care about can also generate a lot of anxiety. And worse, this anxiety often begins several weeks leading up to the actual giving of the gift!
Instead of weeks of mild anxiety and worry about getting it right, gift giving can generate warmth, connection, and the feeling of totally winning life, IF you learn how to give great gifts.
In this guide I’ll teach you how to enjoy the process of picking perfect gifts and delighting your loved ones with them, during the holiday season or for any occasion.
When you finish this short guide, you’ll approach gifting with a sense of joy, knowing you have the skills to reliably give great gifts.
Welcome to the Good Gift-Givers Great Gift Giving Guide! (or 7G for short).
Why Give Great Gifts
Expert gifting is a wonderful skill to have, because giving great gifts brings joy to us and to those we love.
An effective gift is simultaneously
- A demonstration of our love for the recipient,
- A demonstration of how we understand, see and “get” the recipient,
- A demonstration of how we see our relationship with the recipient, and finally,
- A hint at the kind of future we’d like for our relationship with the recipient
This is why giving good gifts can be so powerful, and also why giving bad gifts can be so destructive. A bad gift might still be a demonstration of our love, but if the recipient doesn’t feel understood and seen by the gift, the entire gift-giving exercise will fall flat.
While good gifts demonstrate love, care, understanding and a positive future for you and the recipient, bad gifts can demonstrate mis-understanding and a negative future and create dissonance and distance inside a relationship (Ex. sports socks on Valentines day - especially if your sweetie isn’t into sports)
So remember, Great gifts create intimacy, closeness and connection. Bad gifts generate distance and anxiety.
The Risk and Excitement of Gifting (and How to Make it Less Risky)
It’s important to realize that when you buy (or make) something for someone you are taking a risk. You are risking that you understand the recipient well enough to give them something that will light them up and enhance your relationship with them.
This risk is why both giving and receiving gifts can be exciting and rewarding, or treacherous and anxiety producing.
It’s important to realize that it’s the risk involved that makes gifting so delightful.
In fact, lots of risky things can be exciting and fun (think baking a cake, or skiing, or racing go karts!) but only if the risk is contained. If the risk is too high (think baking without a recipe, skiing with your eyes closed, or go karting without a helmet) fun evaporates and only anxiety remains.
So the trick to enjoying gifting is to contain the risk of gifting. And the way we do this is by learning the skill of gifting.
After you finish this guide, you’ll have enough skill in the area of gift giving to enjoy it thoroughly. Any anxiety you used to feel will be a thing of the past.
So now on to How to Give Great Gifts...
Part 2 - How to Give Great Gifts
To make it easy to give great gifts, we’ve broken it down into a 4 step process with the acronym GIFT!
Here are the steps:
Step 1: Get curious about the recipient
Step 2: Ideas and options. Brainstorm some possible gifts
Step 3: Feel into the perfect gift.
Step 4: Take action.
Now let’s break down the steps:
Step 1: Get Curious (with Great Gift Questions)
The first step in giving a great gift is to get curious about the recipient. Most bad gifts happen because we don’t take enough time to think upfront about the recipient and the gift. This step is where the magic happens, so take a few minutes and reflect on your recipient, ask yourself the following 11 questions, and jot down your answers:
What does the recipient like?
What is important to them?
What results are they working on achieving in their life?
What is your relationship with them like? How could it be better?
What do you like to do together?
What is something they want for their life but haven’t yet been able to turn into reality?
What is a positive aspect you see about them that they might not see or believe about themselves?
When have you seen them the most excited or happy?
What type of aesthetic do they enjoy?
What new experience might they enjoy?
What type of feeling would you like the gift to create for them? For you?
Step 2: Iterate on Ideas
As you go through answering the Great Gift Questions, you’ll notice you start to have ideas. Write them down into a big list and keep it somewhere you have easy access to it.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you brainstorm:
There are many ways to give a great gift: A great gift can be thoughtful, unexpected, fun, funny, heartfelt, vulnerable, revealing, or a number of other things.
A great gift can be a thing you buy, a thing you make, a thing you find, a thing you destroy.
A great gift can be an experience: with you or alone. It could be a trip, an expedition, an adventure, or something soothing, a trip somewhere in the world, or a trip down memory lane.
A great gift can feel warm, soft, smooth, rough, inspiring, enlivening, exciting.
A great gift can be a song, a poem, tickets to something new, an IOU for quality time, a massage, a story, or a promise.
As you answer the Great Gift Questions keep the above in mind. As you do ideas will start to pour out.
Remember that this stage can be fun. Use your creativity to write down lots of ideas and don’t judge them at all. This is a brainstorm so let your brain come up with as many ideas as possible. When no more ideas are pouring out (no matter how silly or creative you let yourself be) you’ll know you are ready for step 3.
Step 3: Feel into the Idea and the Occasion
Now that you have a list of ideas, you are going to use your capacity to feel to hone in on a great gift.
Begin to feel into the recipient, your gift ideas, and the occasion. Visualize the gift being received and opened by your recipient and feel into each of your ideas in that moment. Close your eyes and picture your recipient opening the gift. How do you think they will feel? React? What might they say? How will they and you feel in the moment of gift-giving?
As you feel into your different ideas, you might notice that one feels right. Maybe you can picture your recipient opening the gift and looking at you with a big smile, or laughing, or being captivated and intrigued, or being excited. When things feel right in the realm of gift giving they often are. This is a good sign that you’ve found a great gift.
Sometimes a gift will feel almost right, but also feel like a risk, and you might be tempted to go ahead with a gift idea anyway and hope the reward is worth the risk. However, in my experience these gifts often fall flat. Great gifts feel solidly right before you buy or make them, they don’t feel like risks (because the last three steps are focussed on removing the risk). So be sure to listen to your gut here. Feel into your ideas, the recipient and the occasion until something feels just right.
Another scenario you might encounter is a perfect gift idea that feels just right, but that is outside your budget. In this case it’s helpful to see if you can be creative and come up with something similar or related that is in your budget. For example, a friend might love high performance motorcycles, but a motorcycle is out of your price range. So getting creative, you could get them a motorcycle trip, a tour of a local motorcycle shop, a coffee meeting with a famous motorcycle maker, motorcycle gloves, a book on motorcycles signed by a famous driver, etc. You get the idea.
By feeling into the recipient, the occasion and the idea together your gut will tell you when you’ve found a winning gift idea. If it doesn’t feel right yet, sleep on it and try again tomorrow. Great gifts are born first in your mind based on thinking about the other person, what they like, and your relationship. The hard work is done when you’ve found a gift idea that feels just right and that you are excited to give.
Step 4: Take Action!
Congratulations! The hard part is now over. Now all there is to do is to buy it, make it, or set it up. Give yourself a pat on the back for being a thoughtful gift giver, and revel in the joy you are creating in the world :)
Additional Tips & Tricks
Still stuck after applying the GIFT approach above? Here’s a list of tips and tricks to get unstuck and find the perfect gift:
Keep a “So-and-so Gift Ideas” document for everyone in your life that you want to delight with gifts. Whenever you come across something and you think “So-and-so would love this!” put that idea on your list for that person. This way you’ll always have a list of gift ideas handy when it comes time to give a gift. My wife and I have Life Dinners every month wherein we give each other gifts, so my “Kati GIft Ideas” document is something I’m perusing at least once a month, and it makes the process of giving a thoughtful gift every month much easier and more rewarding.
Sleep on it. If you are having problems finding the perfect gift for someone you care about, ask yourself before you go to bed “What would be a great gift for So-and-so” and then go to sleep. Often when you wake up you’ll have the answer. The subconscious is powerful and you can use it to your advantage.
Expensive doesn’t equal good. Remember great gifts don’t have to be expensive. Often the least expensive gifts can be the best. Write a song for someone and play it for them, or write a poem, or make a painting or sculpture, or knit something, or do something together that’s new and exciting and out of the box. These can be some of the best gifts.
Gifts delight the giver. Remember if you ever feel down, giving a great gift is a great way to feel better. Serving others with no expectation of reward is a sure-fire way to feel good.
If you’ve read this far you now have everything you need to conquer gift-giving anxiety and give great gifts with confidence! Congratulations.
Remember whenever you need to give a great gift
Get Curious, then list
Ideas & Options, then
Feel Into the Occasion until something clicks, and then
I hope you find that your new-found skill at giving great gifts creates joy for you, and enhances your relationships with those that you love.
Happy gift giving!
P.S. If you have someone on your list who likes innovative lighting, check out DiscoChristmas for visuals and mood setting unlike you've ever seen before.