It doesn't take much effort to know what people love. You can have one conversation with a person and know what she is passionate about. If you know the person a little better, then pay attention to what they listen to, wear, eat and drink. If a person loves coffee, he will appreciate a travel mug. Last year I bought my secret sister a green tote bag stuffed with goodies. Her favorite color is green. She probably already has a green bag, but it was something she can use over and over again.
Give Something Useful
Do you have a junk drawer? You are not American unless you have a junk drawer. It is the place all the unwanted and useless gifts go to die. If you are unsure of whether your child's teacher would like another keychain for Christmas, then opt for a safer gift. Give a gift that the majority of people will use in their home or office.
Need examples of safe gifts?
Lotion (no funky smells)
Candles (again no funky smells)
People that are natual givers usually loath the idea of gift cards. The gift is a reflection of the person that is gifting and the way they feel about the recipent. For the rest of us, we love the idea of gift cards. They allow us to go shopping, pick out the perfect fit, or put several gift cards together to make one big purchase. If you are in doubt about where to get the gift card, then go with a Visa gift card.
Not every gift has to be a surprise. Ask for a list for birthday and Christmas gifts. You can pick from the list and the gift receiver is assured a gift she will love. My husband and I give each other a list every year for Christmas. We pick one item from each of the four categories (something to read, wear, want and need), so there is a little element of surprise. Spouses and friends cannot read minds, so use the list. It will save you money and it takes the guessing out of gift purchases.
What rules do you follow when buying gifts?