1.  Don’t make it about you.  I knew a woman who got a pool table for mother’s day one year.  She had never played pool a day in her life. When giving a gift to someone, start by thinking about the things that they love.  They love hunting?  Go to Bass Pro Shop and ask for help and get a gift receipt for everything you buy.  They love cooking?  Go to Sur La Table, make a gift basket and just remember to get a gift receipt.  Don’t let your likes and dislikes and opinions keep you from getting someone else what they really want.

2.  Replace something.  Maybe they lost a pocket knife that got taken by TSA  or a pair of favorite earrings that they left in a hotel.  It could be something they broke like a favorite mug or pair of shoes that got ruined.

3.  Give a blast from the past.  Find a t-shirt from a concert you attended years ago.  Or an old cd you used to love together.  Maybe a copy of a movie you saw together.

4.  Do something nostalgic.  Frame an old picture or an old letter.  One of my favorite gifts my mom ever gave me is in my kitchen.  It is a framed recipe card for my Grandma’s eye round roast (my favorite thing she cooked).  My mom saved it when she was cleaning out my Grandma’s house after she moved to an assisted living home.  It is not even in a nice frame but I don’t care, it’s special.  It reminds me that cooking is about expressing my love to my family (for me, no pressure if you hate cooking).

5.  Be a good listener.  If your wife goes on and on to her friend about how beautiful her new purse is, take notes!  If your husband talks about how he wishes he had a universal remote, pay attention!  If your daughter goes on and on about sparkly TOMS take the hint!

When you give a really thoughtful gift you take a big risk.  Maybe they won’t get it.  Maybe they won’t think it is as special as you do.  Maybe you tried really hard but just fell short.  But maybe you gave them a gift that says, “I know you,” or “I pay attention to you,” or “I remember the great times we have had together,” and that speaks volumes.  And listen, if you need to throw in a gift card with your framed recipe card, that’s icing on your, I-put-thought-into-this gift.

I will leave you with 3 last don’ts…

Don’t equate gifts with need.  That’s why socks and underwear from your grandma never meant much.
Don’t believe the lie that it is all about money.  Resourcefulness after a tough financial year could be the best gift you ever gave your spouse.
Don’t give up.  Just because you gave a gift that bombed last year doesn’t mean you throw in the towel this year.  It means you try harder this year.

Happy Hunting!  Merry Christmas!