Don’t give what you want, give what they want.  I know, it seems obvious and really simple, but for some it’s a mystery, which is why Christmas, birthdays, and Valentine’s Day are fraught when it comes to the gifts.  How do people get it so wrong so very often?  Well, a couple of things influence this and it’s not just, “I’m not good at giving gifts.”  For some people that is true but for the most of us…

Like I said, don’t give what you want or think is cool or think would be appropriate for someone like them.  You aren’t them and what you think may or may not have anything to do with reality or the facts.  Something to keep in mind, the gift you are giving them is a message to them about how you see them and how you value them.  (No pressure)  Most people, not all but most, could care less about how much you spent on the gift unless they are comparing it to last year’s gift or to something you gave their twin sister.  So it’s not about living up to the Jones’, it’s about telling them they matter.

Yes, it’s the thought that counts and that’s the point.  The thought you put into this gift.  Just getting them something is not enough as any husband who’s given a cleaning appliance will attest.  Which brings us to the brick wall of “What do I get them?”  It’s so hard to figure out what someone would like when it comes close to the holiday.  Unless you know the gift giving secrets.  LISTENING.  Listen when they talk.  Listen when they tell you or others about things they love, things they want, things they would enjoy doing…WATCH.  Watch what they buy for themselves, what they window shop for, what they do, what they put on their wish lists.  PAY ATTENTION.  All they really want for the holiday is to know that they are seen.  Seen by you for who they actually are.  And what you give them is evidence that you’ve done just that.  You’ve seen that they collect vinyl records and so you bought them something to add to the collection.  You’ve watched them drawing on any scrap of paper around and so you’ve got them a pad of drawing paper and some really nice pens.  You’ve paid attention when they’ve sighed about this class or going skiing or getting that massage and so you’ve set it up for them or for you both.

Gift giving isn’t something that you have to think about during certain times of the year.  It’s something you do every day by giving your attention, by listening, by watching, by being…ahem…present…so that when the time comes to give them something, it will be a token of what they’ve already got.  You.