Giving someone the perfect gift while helping others in need, saving time and money, and increasing your own happiness? It may sound impossible, but follow these 10 tips and this could be you and your most epic gifting season yet. (Love the gift tags on the presents above? Scroll down to #10 for a free download!)
01. Hire a spy.
There's nothing worse than getting someone something they wouldn't want anyway. Have a friend do a bit of recon by asking simple questions like, "Describe your personal style. What are your three beauty must-haves? Coffee or tea? What's your ideal weekend?" Or do a bit of recon yourself by noting trends and interests on their Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook pages.
02. Let the (recent) past lead you.
Is your sister's new iPhone 6 still naked? Does dad's camera need a new memory card because he refuses to delete old photos? BFF in need of sage career advice? Your gift just might have the solution they're looking for!
03. Go in on it together.
Nothing beats a group gift for saving money and enabling awesome gifting at the same time. This works especially well between siblings who want to give their parents a vacation or a new dishwasher but can't afford to buy it on their own. For a nominal 1.8% fee, Share a Gift makes it easy to do group gifts that also include charitable causes, project and travel funds. And you can use it all over the world—which means your brother in Korea can still join in on the fun!
04. #nofilter need not apply.
Just about every online shop and their mother has a gift guide section this time of year. Filter by type, recipient, and price, and you'll have a curated list to choose from without having to leave the comfort of your bed.
05. Wrap it up.
It's what's on the inside that counts. But affordable butcher paper, kraft paper, baker's twine, Trader Joe's grocery bags, newsprint, and cozy old sweaters give presents a certain je ne sais quoi that's totally in right now. And remember, when it comes to DIY inspiration, Pinterest is your friend.
06. Have insurance.
It happens: We make our lists, check them twice, but somehow still forget a person (or two or three). And they don't forget us! Prevent an awkward situation by preparing a few thoughtful gifts to have on hand. Universal crowd pleasers include good wine, gourmet gift sets like chocolate, coffee, or tea, or journals and planners for 2015.
07. Don't listen to, "I don't need anything."
Donate to a cause in this person's name, even if it's a few dollars. This is an authentic way to respect your recipient's wishes while giving to someone who can't say the same for themselves.
08. Spend quality time.
Literally. Spend money on quality time with the people you love instead of buying them yet another thing they don't need. I'm known for my hand-drawn coupons gifting back massages to my husband and afternoon tea dates with my mother-in-law.
09. Spread joy.
Giving makes us feel happy. A 2009 Harvard Business School study found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Give loved ones an opportunity to give to someone else by scheduling a date to feed the homeless, care for the sick, or visit the lonely.
10. Go homemade, or go home.
Homemade treats like these orange and white chocolate cookies or this all-natural grape jam make decadent gifts without the decadent price tag. Buy cute packaging in bulk on Amazon. Then dress them up with these adorable gift tags made especially for you, dear Verily readers:
Hand-designed by our talented friend Jessica of Coco and Mingo, simply print in color (click here) or black & white (click here) on standard 8 1/2" x 11" paper or card stock. Turn over, and print this page on the other side. Cut and punch a hole on each tag. And voila! Happy holidays!