If you’re like most guys, you probably struggle with buying gifts. There’s a reason that every movie and TV show always portrays guys rushing to stores on Christmas Eve… because it’s usually true.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that strategy works, other times it doesn’t. So, instead of spending your time on some of the busiest days of the year, let’s mix it up this year.
Keep reading to learn how to give better gifts this year to friends, family, and coworkers so it makes a lasting impression.
Men’s Guide to Gift Giving
Whether you’re shopping for a significant other, a family member, a coworker, or someone else in your life, there are some basic rules to follow.
Listen to Plan Ahead
When it comes to giving a great gift, the first rule is to listen and log some notes in your phone. Because here’s the thing, especially with your significant other, she drops hints all the time. But chances are you’re too busy watching the game, working, or scrolling through social media to pay attention.
Sometimes she will call it out blatantly like “I really want ____. '' Or, other times it will be more subtle and say something like “I haven’t had a spa day in forever.”
It’s not just your other half either, coworkers, friends, and family do the same thing as well. This is your key to listen, pay attention, and plan ahead.
When you have a list of ideas in your phone of potential ideas, it makes it much easier to buy gifts. Otherwise, you’re left scrambling and likely have to settle for something less than stellar.
Buy Memories, Not Stuff
With a few clicks, we can all have an Amazon box arrive at our door tomorrow with pretty much anything we need. Needless to say, most of us don’t want more “stuff” as gifts.
Instead, the key is to buy more gifts that will create memories, not something that provides momentary happiness and then instantly forget about.
Here are some examples of buying memories, not gifts:
- Swap out a massage visit for a full-on spa day.
- Instead of buying a bottle of wine, buy them a certificate for wine tasting.
- Swap out a gift certificate from their favorite restaurant to a cooking class.
- Instead of buying a golf shirt, buy them a certificate at a nice golf course for a group of people (maybe they’ll invite you too).
When people receive gifts that are experiences, they’ll make a much more lasting impression.
Ask Others For Help
There is a lot of power in putting two heads together to solve a problem… especially with gift-giving. Sometimes recruiting others can help you spark a brilliant idea that might not have ever come to you on your own.
If you’re shopping for a boss, ask fellow employees. If you’re shopping for a significant other, ask her friends, coworkers, or family members.
But there is one person to not ask… the person you’re shopping for.
I would say the worst thing to do here is to ask anyone point-blank, “What do you want for (insert occasion)?” That is a surefire way to come off as boring, unoriginal, and not very caring. But when you listen and log notes, this shouldn’t be an issue again.
Make It Personal
If you want to be an expert gift-giver, make it personal. Don’t just buy them something they could easily buy themselves.
Here is a perfect example…
Each year, I make my other half a photo book of our top pictures together for the year. I compile a few of our best pictures from bigger events/accomplishments each month. We’re in year ten now and it’s always fun to look back and remember all the good times and big wins that we had.
Other ideas could include:
- Instead of just buying a watch, get a quote engraved underneath it.
- Upgrade a whiskey decanter bottle for your boss by getting his initials engraved on it.
- Instead of buying a bag of their favorite M&M’s for a stocking stuffer, get them personalized (yes, that’s a thing).
Think Outside the Box
Finally, if you want to make a lasting impression with your gift, you have to think differently. Don’t just go to a mall or on Amazon and expect your gift to stand out.
Instead, buy them something they might have thought about on their own. Here are some good examples to give you some inspiration.
There is a subscription box for pretty much anything these days! These make for great gifts for friends and family who might not be near you and want to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Some good ideas include:
- Wine or Beer. Who doesn’t want alcohol delivered to their doorstep each month?
- Barkbox. If you have someone who has a dog that might consider you an “uncle”, splurge on a monthly bark box. These come with treats, toys, and other items in a themed gift box each month.
Plus, they’ll get them for a few months or more, depending on how long you subscribe to them. This will be a great recurring gift that they will appreciate.
Help Them Meet A Mentor
This one is out of the box, but I promise it will make you a gift-giving legend.
A few years ago, my other half started a personal training business and had a few fitness entrepreneurs she followed. She read their books, watched their videos, and talked about them like they were best friends even though she had never met them… yet.
So, I did some digging, reached out to them through email and social media, and was able to book a coaching session for them. She was absolutely blown away, the other person was impressed, and it helped her grow her business.
With social media and email, you never know what is possible. It’s worth a shot! As Michael Jordan said, “You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.”
It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But instead of just getting a print and frame for their house or desk, think bigger.
Some good ideas include:
- Photo cards and books.
Or, you could even outsource someone to turn a photo into a painting. There are many websites that allow you to submit a photo and they turn it into a brilliant painting.
One of the coolest new gifts you can give is with the Cameo app. This app lets you hire athletes, musicians, and other celebrities to record a short video message for someone.
Since most of us don't get to meet our favorite celebrities, this will make for a memorable gift. Plus, they get a copy of the video so they can rewatch over and over again (and post to social media). According to the app, it might take the individual up to seven days to record and send a plan accordingly.
What Not to Buy
While these rules and ideas should guide you in the right direction, here are some things you should probably avoid buying.
- Gift cards. Boring gift cards to Amazon, Target, or some other store are never going to be remembered. As I mentioned above, buy gift certificates for events that lead to lasting memories, not something for them to buy their household goods. This includes cash too - skip this entirely.
- A pet (or anything that requires ongoing care). Sure, it’s cute in the commercial when the puppy jumps out of the box, but buying a pet that they may or not want (or need) is a big commitment. Unless this is 100% wanted, skip anything that requires their ongoing time and money.
- Fitness stuff. Even if she is a big yoga fan or lives and breathes working out, this gift might be taken the wrong way. The last thing you want to do is make your other half feel like you want her to exercise more with your gift.
- Flowers. Save these for non-holiday events, even if they are her favorite type of flower.
- Stuff for you. If you live together, you might be able to get away with “joint gifts” but in general, I would focus more on her, not you so you don’t look selfish.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the “rules” of gift-giving. And, for can't-go-wrong ideas on what to get the most important men in your life, check out our True Classic Tees gift guides.
Don’t forget, gift-giving isn’t just around the holidays, either. Instead, make this activity a year-round thing to treat the people who matter most to you.
Remember, it’s not always about how much something costs, but how much effort goes into it. Usually, the ones that are more thoughtful are the ones that they will remember for a long time.
Start thinking outside the box to become a gift-giver that everyone will appreciate.