The holidays are just around the corner, and with the cooler temperatures comes glad tidings and good cheer. Shopping for the holidays is a big to-do, especially when your nice list is extra-long and includes extraordinary people.
Treating the people we love and admire with a gift at Christmas time not only spreads joy and is an investment in the relationships we've cultivated with our family, peers, and colleagues, but it is also an investment in ourselves.
The names at the top of your gift lists say a lot about the people in our lives. For one, it exposes who we truly value and care about. But it also shows that we are genuinely interested in learning more about those people.
What better way is there to get to know someone besides exploring what brings them joy?
Gifting a meaningful gift helps strengthen the bonds. It allows us to connect and deepen our relationship with others. Whether the person at the top of your list is your spouse or your boss, being thoughtful about your gift is more valuable than the value gift itself.
So what do you get the woman at the top of your list when she has everything already?
There are several approaches to gift-giving that can lead to a successful gift exchange, especially when the person you are gifting seemingly has everything they could ever want. The trick is to think outside of the [gift] box.
Breaking Down The Gift List
Gift-giving that goes beyond just giving an unsolicited "nice" gift can be broken down into three types of gifts: practical, beneficial, and experiential.
You could explore the practical means of gift-giving by getting that special person a gift that they truly want from the top of their must-have list. Giving someone a gift that they’ve always wanted is incredibly thoughtful and shows that you've taken the time to think about what that person in your life would honestly want.
You could also explore giving a beneficial gift. In a nutshell, a beneficial gift is something that would improve the life of the person you are gifting.
And lastly, you could check out what it means to give an experiential gift. An experiential gift is a gift that takes what the receiver loves and turns it into something they can experience.
We are going to break down these different types of gift giving so you can be on top of your gift-giving game this season by figuring out precisely what will delight and bring joy to the woman in your life who has, well, everything.
Practical gifts are gifts that fulfill a basic need. These gifts may seem like a cop-out at first thought, but a practical gift can be incredibly meaningful when it is tailored perfectly to the person you are gifting.
Things to think about when considering a practical gift are questions like:
- How do they spend their time?
- What would take some of the burden off of their day-to-day lives?
- Is there anything in their life that would improve if they just had a certain item or access to something?
Once you've considered these first few questions, you can begin to break down their needs to find something that would delight them and still be a practical gift.
Consider the following examples:
- Does this woman enjoy nature and commute to work? Would buying her a bicycle improve her commute?
- Does this person have self-improvement goals but won't take the plunge on a gym membership? Would getting them a few sessions with a personal trainer help them succeed at their goals?
- Does this person enjoy working with their hands? Would gifting them a new toolset or a specific tool help them explore the inspiration and work on projects they enjoy?
- Is this person a snazzy dresser? Would gifting them a new wallet or clutch complete their favorite outfit and show that you value their style?
- Is this woman a student? Do they have everything they need to start the new semester off, right? Would purchasing them a new laptop make completing their school work more successful?
- Or, if you know this person might be receiving a laptop from a family member, do they have a way to protect and carry their new laptop? Would a new designer tote for carrying their laptop make it easier for them to use their new gift?
There are hundreds of gift guides out there each holiday season that list ideas for practical gift-giving. But giving a practical gift doesn't have to be boring like the socks and underwear that grandma used to get us each year. It can be thoughtful and meaningful and still very useful to the person you are gifting.
An experiential gift is a gift that allows the receiver an opportunity to experience or enjoy an activity, feeling, or place that they don't usually have the opportunity to enjoy.
Research has shown that people are actually happier when receiving gifts that provide an experience beyond just a material gift. While material gifts can be thoughtful, gifting an experience can drastically change the life of the person receiving the gift and is, therefore, more thoughtful because it is more personal.
You had to take the time to think about experiences that the recipient would enjoy and then choose one that fits the receiver well. Yes, this may cause you more unnecessary stress than just simply choosing something beautiful and well made, but in the end, your bond with the receiver of the gift will grow, and you will feel joy in them being able to enjoy this experience.
In a sense, it's a gift that keeps on giving. You and the receiver experience mutual joy as they unwrap and experience the giving of the gift. Then you and the receiver get to experience that joy again when the receiver partakes in the experience and then shares what happened and how much they enjoyed it with you.
Some great examples of experiential gifts are:
- Is the recipient a workaholic who rarely takes time for themselves? Give them a one night stay at a fancy hotel with a gift certificate for room service so the recipient can take a night off and pamper themselves without having to worry about a thing.
- Or the recipient could be a mom who just needs a break from the chaos of raising their own personal entourage. A much-needed trip to a relaxing day spa is the perfect gift for the recipient to unwind from their daily stresses and enjoy the soothing calm and relaxation of a day that is totally focused on them, even if it is just for an afternoon.
- Is this person a thrill seeker? Do they love roller coasters, or have they always wanted to face their fears and go skydiving? Why not get them a season pass for their favorite theme park or plan an afternoon trip to go skydiving together? Jumping out of a plane together can be one of the scariest and yet most rewarding experiences.
- Does this person have a favorite sports team but hasn't been able to go enjoy a game? Why not get them some really nice tickets to the next home game and a gift certificate for some team merch?
- Do they love a certain musician or band but have never been able to go see them in concert? Concert tickets for the recipient and a friend to go enjoy their favorite band can be life-changing. You'd be giving them the gift of excitement and fulfilling an item on their bucket list at the same time.
- Does the recipient love to cook? Or maybe they don't have time to cook but are a real foodie and are always talking about their favorite chef. A cooking class pass for working with a renowned chef to create one of their favorite dishes from their favorite restaurant could be their perfect experience for the food connoisseur who wants to try everything.
Experiential gifts don't have to be extravagant. They just have to be something the person you are gifting would actually enjoy and most definitely use. You can even purchase yourself a seat in the class, a day at the spa, or a concert ticket so you can go with them and experience it together.
Experiences make memories, and memories that last a lifetime are worth their weight in gold.
Beneficial gifts, similarly to both experiential gifts and practical gifts, beneficial gifts meld the best of both worlds of gift-giving. Beneficial gifts improve the quality of life of the recipient but take it a step further by providing a need through an experience.
Beneficial gifts are those really feel-good gifts that take a weight off the recipient's shoulders while showering them with an experience. So how do you make this happen? Well, you have to give a whole lot of heart when you give a beneficial gift.
Some great examples of beneficial gift-giving are:
- Give them something as simple as filling up a person's gas tank so they can actually take their family to see their grandmother two states away for Christmas.
- It could be paying a portion of their student loans, so they don't have to work two jobs and get to spend that time with their family and friends instead.
- Does this person collect things like designer bags? Gifting them something to help them care for their bags or their collection would be meaningful and show that you appreciate what they love just as much as they do.
- Maybe they work a lot of overtime to make sure their family is comfortable and don't have the time to cook a proper Thanksgiving meal. You could also cook a holiday dinner for their family and be there to surprise them when they come home from work.
- If you aren't exactly sure what they need the most, you could contribute to or set up a college fund for their kids.
- Or if you work together, you could simply pick up some of their late-night shifts so they can spend time at home relaxing or enjoying time with family.
Beneficial gifts are outside of the box, and they can make you a little anxious and uncomfortable at first. But gifting from your heart will not only bring the person receiving the gift joy, but it will also bring you closer together. Gifting thoughtful, meaningful gifts shows just how much you care about those on your list, the people in their lives, and their lives in general.
A Thoughtful Gift Doesn't Always Fit In A Box
Being helpful and generous, especially during the holidays, makes us as humans feel good, feel needed. Some of our friends and family members experience great sadness throughout the holidays because it reminds them of people in their lives with whom they don't have the opportunity to enjoy the holidays.
Gifting in a thoughtful, practical, beneficial, or experiential way can change, for the better, how those friends and family members experience the holidays.
Humans are social creatures. Gift-giving is one of those quintessential social actions that bring people together. As humans, we thrive when our environments are healthy and fulfilling and when we are surrounded by people who care for us.
Gift-giving is also a powerful gift to ourselves. Not only can thinking of others help lift the burden of some of our own holiday grief, but we get to experience the joy of those gifts with those that we are gifting. Thoughtful gift-giving nurtures relationships and allows them to bloom and grow — creating friendships or partnerships that last a lifetime.
This holiday season, we challenge you to think outside the gift box and explore how a gift that you give can truly turn someone's day, week, or even their life around just by showing you care. And maybe, just maybe, we can make a change in someone else's life that will, in turn, make a change in our own lives.
Not only will you get the chance to stay on the nice list another year, but you’ll have friends there with you that feel valued and a part of your life.