December is the gift-giving month, many people say. For many reasons, this is true because December is the month of Christmas and Hanukkah (and Pakjesavond and Sinterklaasdag in the Netherlands), therefore giving a really thick holiday feeling around the world. No matter where you live, whether you live in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere, whether you celebrate White Christmas or Christmas by the beach, December is always correlated with giving gifts to friends and loved ones.
But… what happens if you’re not that type of people who knows how to get THAT perfect gift? Worry not, for I have always considered myself as one! However, even though I think of myself as a bad gift-giver, my friends always tell me the contrary. Therefore, I decide to help you with this post, to fight the gift-giving blues!
THE ESSENTIALS OF BUYING GIFTS
There are two types of people in this world: people who buy beautiful gifts, and people who buy functional gifts. I categorize myself to the second box. I believe that a gift should complement to the daily lifestyle of the receiver, not just something you can look at. The reason why I like to buy functional gifts is because each person has their own taste. Of course, you can cross this one out if you’ve known the person for such a long time you get the idea of their likes and dislikes, but that’s a special case.
Here are the essentials of buying that perfect gift:
- The gift should be functional,
- The gift should express what you know best about the receiver, and
- The gift doesn’t have to be expensive.
Another thing that you should take account of when you’re going gift-shopping is how well you know the receiver. What are their hobbies? What do they look like? Have you ever noticed a certain thing they want to have but they haven’t bought it? Have you ever noticed something about them that’s already worn out but they keep on wearing it? Those little things are nice things to observe when going gift-hunting.
For example, two weeks ago I just bought a box of three travel-sized body butter as a gift for my best friend. Last weekend, I bought a tea infuser and a small box of loose tea for my boyfriend and a snack and dip sauce holder for his parents. I bought the body butter because I always see my best friend bringing one small tin of body butter or hand cream in her bag, I know my boyfriend loves to drink tea, and I once went to his parents’ house for dinner where his stepdad made an awesome French fries. See the pattern here? I bought the gifts based on observations about people I bought them for.
So, you have a mother-in-law who loves gardening? Buy her a cute pot for her next plant. A best friend who loves writing? Buy her/him a notebook filled with writing prompts to engage their creativity. A father who loves gadgets? If you’re tight on the budget like me, you can buy gadget accessories for his gadgets such as a phone case that matches his favorite color, a VR-viewer, or a wireless compact speaker. A girlfriend who’s into cosmetics? You don’t have to buy her the entire make-up regimen, a make-up bag will do! A boyfriend whose wallet has worn out? Buy him a new one!
WHERE TO BUY? (In the Netherlands)
This is another issue to tackle. Where to buy the gifts? The first one is you can always go online because nowadays almost every store has their own online shop. Therefore, you don’t have to waste your time or energy for gift-shopping, all you need is an internet connection, and you’re good to go. Plus, your gifts will be shipped directly to your doorstep. How convenient, right!
However, if you prefer allocating a special time for gift-shopping, there’s a new store in Den Haag called TK Maxx. They have another branch in Rotterdam also. TK Maxx is a UK-based store that has branches in Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and in the whole UK and Ireland area. Here, you can find a lot of inspiration for your gifts with a really low price. They also have a section filled with gift boxes with prices as low as 5 euros. I love going here for gift-shopping, and I also spread the word to my friends during this holiday season.
Another store that catches my eyes for gift-shopping is Sostrene Grene. This is a minimalist store from Denmark. In the Netherlands, they have two stores: one in Den Haag and one in Amsterdam. You can buy cute minimalistic things here with really cheap price and they sell great wrapping papers and gift bags.
There’s also something people often overlook for gifts: handmade stuffs! You can scour the web for easy DIY things such as DIY exfoliating scrubs, face masks, or bath bombs. Then you can personalize your gifts to whoever you make it from, and I’m sure these kind of gifts are one of a kind because it’s cheap and it comes from the heart.
GENERIC GIFTS 101
This is something that we all must endure. Sometimes, offices or schools hold a Christmas party and Secret Santa tradition, where we have to swap our gifts to people we don’t know. Therefore, you need to know something about unisex gifts.
I always take the most taken road when it comes to unisex gifts: pick gender-neutral colors and things. The most common gifts you can buy for this type of situation are:
- Candles (pick a gender-neutral scent such as pine forest, sandalwood, vanilla, or cedarwood)
- Kitchen appliances
- Home appliances such as key holder and throw pillows
- A bag of loose tea with relaxing flavor and scent
- Handy daily planner/notes for the following year
- DIY body treatment products
Don’t worry! Gift-shopping can be an entirely wonderful experience if you know what to buy and who to buy it for. I hope you will be enlightened about what gifts to buy after reading this article!