Gift-giving has always been tricky. You have to know a lot about a person to give them a gift that they’ll cherish. What’s their style? How do they like to spend their free time? What might pair well with their current outfits? What hobbies might they want to take up? Do they prefer things or experiences? All these questions have to be considered before you pull the trigger on that piece of jewelry or a trip to a national park. And now there’s a new factor to consider: we have become much more conscientious shoppers and are bucking fast fashion trends. So, how can you use your spending power to create change while giving gifts that your loved ones will cherish?
Whenever your friends are stressing about gift-giving, you likely ask them the same question: “Have you asked X what they might like?”. The answer is almost always “no”. But, by opening some channels of communication with the person you are buying for, you can avoid giving disastrous gifts that end up in the trash.
If you don’t want to ask the person what they want directly, you can always have them make a list for you or create a Pinterest board filled with gift ideas. You don’t necessarily have to buy something from their list, but it is a great way to find some inspiration when you’re really stuck.
Communication is also vital during the early stages of a relationship—particularly if you want to buy your new S/O something nice. If you buy your new S/O a serious gift too soon, you risk overwhelming them. So, instead of buying an expensive gift that makes the relationship awkward, consider speaking to your new partner first to get an idea of their commitment to the relationship.
Quality in Unexpected Places
Online antiquing grew 4.3% in 2020, and sites like Facebook Marketplace and Etsy allow buyers to browse massive catalogs of antiques and choose gifts that are both high quality and unique. This means you can find the perfect lamp for your partner’s desk quickly and without the need to travel to the antique stores at the edge of town. A whiskey set is a great gift for the man in your life, and finding an antique one makes it even more unique, as he is unlikely to already own an antique of this kind. Antiques carry a personal touch, which is what all millennials are looking for after growing up in an age of mass production.
Connect Via Story
No one likes gifts that are mass-produced and unloved. Not only are they usually unsustainable, but they convey a distinct lack of care on the part of the gift giver. Instead, try to find an intentional gift with a great back story. This requires more effort, but great gifts do require care.
When looking for a good gift, dive into small antique and art stores and talk to the store owners about their wares. By asking the artist/owner more about the potential gift, you might find unexpected connections between your gift and the person you’re planning to give it to. These story-based connections are golden in the gift-giving process. They show your recipient that you’ve thought long and hard about the gift, meaning they’re much more likely to cherish that new item.
There are plenty of perfect gifts out there for you to find, and it needn’t be expensive, either. Oftentimes, a small, well-thought-out gift will resonate much more than an elaborate, expensive gift that you simply bought from a jeweler or electronics retailer.
Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer with an interest in topics related to how education, business, and technology intersect with the personal. She enjoys traveling to beautiful places and learning more about her cultural and environmental surroundings. You can connect with Ainsley on Twitter and Contently.