Shopping for others can be very fun but it is not always so easy. People can be quite complex, some more than others. The degree to which you care about the person as well as how much you know about their current circumstances, limited by how much you’re willing to spend on the person, might determine what kind of gift you end up purchasing. Of course the rules for giving someone a gift are not nearly so hard and fast.
The easiest person to shop for is someone who is very vocal about their preferences. In my case, I make sure that everyone who I expect to know for an extended period of time knows that I like cats. I like many other things but if I tell them that I like cats then I might receive a lot of cat themed goods when someone decides to give me a gift. Receiving cat themed gifts pleases me and the cat gods alike. Of course if someone were to buy me the exact model of the laptop that I have been pining for or some gift that I didn’t even know would result in a massive improvement to my life, that would be welcome, but I don’t expect that. I only expect cat themed gifts since that is the signal I send out.
There are also a number of traps that one might fall into when shopping for another person and there is one in particular that I often fell into myself. Quite often we might buy gifts for other people that we actually would instead want for ourselves. Some people might in fact buy themselves the same gift the moment they buy the gift for the other person. I did this a lot in my early adulthood when I would buy my family gifts. I would often buy them really fancy electronics ranging from tablets to cellphones and even computers. Luckily, some of those gifts hit the mark, but there were certainly a number of them that did not. At that point there were no real winners. This is why it’s best to actually pay attention and consider what the person you’re buying for might actually need or want.
I rather enjoy buying gifts for people whom I care for and generally I try to buy them gifts that I know they will not go out of their way to buy themselves but could make good use of. The people who are the hardest to buy gifts for are the people who will impulsively just buy themselves whatever it is they want at any given moment. I know people like this and it can be very difficult to buy them any kind of gift since they already have most of what their heart desires from a material perspective. With such people it might be better to simply spend time with them or to do a more complicated gesture if you really want to invest time in them.
I would like to finish by saying that my favorite time to give gifts is when they are not expected. I grew up watching my father bring my mother gifts at seemingly random times. I say seemingly random because I don’t know if there was some unseen event that triggered it but it always seemed like the correct thing to do. It’s as they say, “It’s the thought that counts.”
hard and fast (idiom) – fixed or definite; unchangeable
vocal (adj.) – expressing opinions in a public and forceful way
pine for (phr. verb) – to want or desire (someone or something) very much
trap (noun) – a situation in which someone is tricked into doing or saying something
hit the mark (idiom) – be successful in an attempt or accurate in a guess