On my side of our family, we don’t celebrate the holidays the way other people do. We usually end up buying presents for each other when needs arise, instead of waiting for the calendar to turn a specific date.
For example, when my mother’s computer bit the dust this summer, we celebrated Christmas in July by chipping in part of the purchase price for her to get a new laptop then. When the holiday catches up on the calendar, she’ll have an additional stocking stuffer gift to open, and will have been enjoying the big gift she really wanted for six extra months.
This doesn’t work extremely well with children, especially younger children who don’t yet have a full understanding of time. However, young children aren’t usually quiet about the things they want. Whether they’re writing letters to Santa Claus or screaming it at the top of their lungs, it’s not much of a secret. It’s easy to buy kids one or two things they want since you know exactly what those items are.
Figuring out what adults want, though, might be more complicated. So, I recommend doing what we do in our family and simply ask the person what they want or need. You may not choose to do this for everyone — surprises can be fun — but if you’re buying a large gift, it’s nice to get someone what they want or need.
On my husband’s side of the family, everyone keeps an Amazon Wish List. We’ve all installed the Universal Wish List Button, so we can include items on the Wish Lists from any online retailer, including individual sellers like those on Etsy. These lists are especially helpful when buying for the younger cousins who were into video games last year, but are all about football this year. There aren’t any questions about sizes or team preferences or if the gift will be appreciated. No one expects you to buy from their list, but it’s a great resource for ideas when you’re the gift giver.
As part of the Practical Presents theme of this year’s Gift Giving Guide, we believe buying people what they want or need meets every definition of practicality.