How to Buy Awesome Gifts

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Celebrating special occasions is one of the most memorable parts of life. During these events, you gather with family and friends to toast important milestones, celebrate notable accomplishments, and pay special attention to the important people in your life. Typically, these occasions call for a gift, which might be the only challenge preventing you from fully enjoying this occasion. Once you learn to embrace gift giving, you will know how to buy awesome gifts no matter the occasion. Read on to discover precisely how to find the perfect gift for everyone on your shopping list.

Understanding Gifting Etiquette

An invitation arrives in your mailbox. After checking your calendar to see if you can make the event, your mind instantly wanders to the gift. Whether you’ve been invited to a birthday party, housewarming, wedding, bridal shower, or retirement party, you probably want to show up with a gift in hand. However, all of these occasions call for different gifting expectations. While you likely wouldn’t attend a wedding without giving the couple a gift, other occasions aren’t as cut and dry. 

As a result, understanding gifting etiquette is the first step in learning how to buy awesome gifts. Consider these factors when determining the gift expectation for every event on your calendar.

Evaluating the Occasion

The occasion dictates gift expectations, including whether gifts are required and what types of gifts are appropriate. Let’s review common celebratory occasions to determine the right gift-buying strategy for any event.

  • Birthday: Gifts and birthday parties go hand in hand. If you’re invited to a birthday party, plan on bringing a gift. 
  • Wedding: Gifts are expected for weddings as well as pre-wedding events like bridal showers.
  • Engagement party: Engagement parties don’t call for a gift, but you can always bring something small if you’re particularly close with the couple.
  • Baby shower: Baby showers are gift-giving occasions with the purpose of delivering a practical gift to the parents-to-be.
  • Graduation party: Like engagement parties, graduation gifts are not expected, but you can certainly use your discretion when determining whether you’d like to give a gift.
  • Anniversary party: Anniversaries are typically an occasion celebrated between the couple, but a milestone anniversary might include a party with family and close friends. Gifts are not required for this type of event. 
  • Housewarming party: It’s customary to bring a small gift for a housewarming party. This gift typically is an item that the host can use in their new home.

As you can see, gifts are a must for some occasions, while they’re optional for others. But, keep in mind that you can buy awesome gifts for any occasion, even those optional ones, if you choose to do so. Other factors can help you decide not only when to buy, but also what to buy, so read on for more advice.

Considering the Recipient

Personalization is the key when learning how to buy awesome gifts. In many situations, you’ll know your recipient well—after all, you’re being invited to celebrate a special occasion. So, you’ll be able to customize the gift to suit their tastes, which ensures that it’ll be a hit. Admittedly, there may be some gifting situations when you don’t know the recipient well—for example, the wedding of a coworker who you’re only acquaintances with. While these situations might be a bit trickier, you can still deliver an awesome gift your recipient will love.

Before you shop for an awesome gift, consider this information about your recipient, which can help guide you to a gift they will love:

Interests and Hobbies

Start with your friend’s interests to think about gifts that could work. Do they have any hobbies like golf or tennis? Perhaps they love to craft and are always on the hunt for new supplies. Maybe you’re shopping for your always-trendy friend who would appreciate a new piece of jewelry. Let your recipient’s interests guide you as you shop for an awesome gift.

Favorite Teams

Shopping for a sports lover? Consider buying gifts featuring their favorite team’s logo. Or, choose an item showcasing their team colors that they can enjoy on gameday and beyond.

Lifestyle

How does your recipient spend their time? Perhaps they’re a workaholic who loves to invest in the latest tech gear. Maybe your friend is an outdoor enthusiast who spends as much time as they can in nature. Keep lifestyle in mind as you shop for your recipient.

Age

If you don’t know your recipient well enough to identify their interest or lifestyle preferences, then let age be the guide. Age can tell you a lot about how a person might spend their time, and finding an age-appropriate gift ensures that it’s appreciated. A gift you’d buy for a high school graduate probably won’t work for a 40th birthday party, for example.

Tips for Assessing Your Recipient

You might need to do a bit of sleuthing to help guide your research and secure the information you need to shop for a gift. When you spend time with your recipient, pay attention to the clothes they wear, the accessories they use, and the things they discuss that generate excitement. They might even hint at an item that they want or need. Paying careful attention to these items just might inspire your gift shopping.

If you won’t spend time with your recipient before it’s time to shop, consider doing a little research on their social media accounts. You might note that they’ve taken up a new hobby, love cheering for a college or pro sports team, or spend their weekends traveling and exploring. This research, too, can help narrow down your search for an awesome gift for the loved one on your shopping list.

Deciding Where to Shop

You’ve conducted some research, and you have a few potential gift ideas for the next celebration on your calendar. Now, you have to decide where you should shop. Consider these factors when making a plan for shopping for awesome gifts.

In Person vs. Online Shopping

Shopping at a physical store is a different experience than shopping online. Both types of shopping have advantages and disadvantages, so considering them is key when deciding how you want to find an awesome gift for a family member or friend. Plus, personal preference may play a role as well. If you’re strapped for time or don’t enjoy in-person shopping, then online can be particularly appealing. 

Shopping in your favorite store allows you to explore every aisle to discover various options. You’ll be able to pick up potential gifts to sample them. Perhaps you want to sample different scents of candles or try out a tech item before you invest in it. When you shop in person, you might end up finding a gift you weren’t even looking for since so many options are available. However, the downside of shopping in person is that you might have to visit multiple stores to find a gift—or you might strike out altogether.

Online shopping allows you to explore many options as well, but this type of shopping won’t engage your senses like in-person shopping. However, you can tap into online reviews of products, which can help you evaluate products based on customers’ experiences. Online shopping is also efficient, allowing you to check out multiple stores without ever stepping away from your computer or smartphone. So, you might end up spending less time shopping if you opt for purchasing from an online store.

Classic and Creative Gift Shops

Whether you live in a big city or small town, you can tap into various spots where you can shop for awesome gifts. If you live in an especially remote area, you can always access a range of stores virtually, too. 

Big box stores and department stores can be popular options when you’re shopping for a gift. After all, these stores offer an array of selections with various departments and offerings for various personalities and interests. However, you might want to get a bit more creative if you’re looking to give an awesome gift.

Consider choosing a local shop that can offer a more unique gift for your recipient. Other guests might also be shopping at big-name retailers, so choosing a local option offers more creative gift ideas. Plus, supporting a local business is always a thoughtful choice. Look for local shops in your area like a coffee shop that might offer freshly brewed blends as well as gear. Craft breweries, too, typically sell merchandise, along with beers by the can. Local beauty shops might feature eco-friendly beauty products or handcrafted jewelry. Check out a local boutique for your fashionable friend. Every area boasts different shopping options, so take some time to identify local spots that offer creative and unique gifts.

Awesome Gift Ideas for Any Occasion

Now that you know how to evaluate your recipient’s preference and where to look for gifts, it’s time to go shopping. Before you begin your search for an awesome gift, consider these gift ideas that are well suited for so many occasions. Make a wishlist for your family member or friend before you start shopping so that you can focus on those gift ideas that you think they’ll truly love.

Explore these categories to discover awesome gifts for different interests and occasions.

Gifts for the Traveler

If you’re shopping for anyone with a sense of wanderlust, let their love of travel inspire your gift shopping. Travel-inspired gifts are available at a variety of price points, making it easy to find a gift that fits your budget.

Staying organized when you’re traveling is important, so give a gift that helps make life on the road or in the air easier. A new passport holder or a leather case that stores chargers can be a practical gift for someone on the go. Monogrammed luggage tags make their bags stand out on the airport carousel. Toiletry bags and travel jewelry storage will also be appreciated by the traveler in your life.

If you know your recipient well and know that they need new luggage, a rolling suitcase or weekender bag will be much appreciated. Packing cubes make it easier to keep that suitcase organized and are a practical gift for any traveler. 

Thoughtful travel gifts allow your recipient to capture memories of their getaways. A scratch-off map allows them to document their travels by scratching off every state or country they visit. Create a canvas of a favorite travel photo to turn their vacation into a lasting memory that they can display in their home. 

Gifts for the Entertainer

If your recipient loves hosting family and friends for everyday gatherings and special occasions alike, then give them a gift that helps them entertain. Serveware and glassware are great places to start, especially if you know their style preferences. You can find marble cheese boards or spacious bamboo trays perfect for serving charcuterie. 

Pick up festive drinkware like colorful acrylic glasses perfect for backyard barbecues or stemless wine glasses that make happy hour more fun. If you choose glassware, pair it with a beverage. For instance, you can give a pair of champagne flutes with a bottle of bubbly or acrylic margarita glasses with a margarita mix. 

Personalized items always add a customized touch to home entertaining. Buy an avid baker or grillmaster a monogrammed apron. Decorate their kitchen with embroidered kitchen towels. Colorful cocktail napkins or printed plastic party cups can feature the family’s name or monogram, adding a personalized touch to their next gathering. 

Gifts for the Tech Savvy

Your high-tech friend or family member will appreciate tech-inspired gifts that are sure to keep them connected. Pick out a new accessory that they can use with their smartphone or tablet. A monogrammed case, wireless charging block, or a portable charger are practical additions to their tech toolkit.

Give a music lover a new pair of earbuds, or upgrade their current pair with a leather storage case for them. Video game fans will always appreciate a new game or an upgraded controller that makes gaming more fun and engaging. Virtual reality fans will love trying out a new piece of gear like a headset that takes their gaming experience to the next level. 

Gifts for the Beauty Enthusiast 

Let your recipient pamper themselves with new beauty products and accessories. If you’re shopping for someone who enjoys spa days, give them a gift that brings a little luxury into their home. Create a spa-themed gift basket filled with high-end beauty products like bath bombs, moisturizers, and face masks. Add in a scented candle to recreate the spa experience at home. 

Choose your favorite trusted beauty products and share them with family and friends. Perhaps you have a nighttime moisturizer that’s simply decadent or use an exfoliator that leaves your skin feeling oh-so soft. A nail polish set is a perfect gift for anyone who loves regular manicures and pedicures. Or, let your recipient sample a new perfume or cologne, lip gloss or shaving set, depending on their preferences. 

Gifts for the Creative

Creative friends and family members will appreciate gifts that channel that creativity and help them design, write, draw, or paint. Shop with your recipient’s interests in mind to ensure you give them a gift that they’ll truly love.

Give a writer a leather-bound journal with a new set of high-quality pens. A sketchbook and colored pencils can inspire new creations by an avid artist. Likewise, paints and canvases will certainly be appreciated by the painter in your life. You can also find craft sets for jewelry making and other hobbies, giving your recipient another option for a creative outlet. 

Gifts for the Happy Couple

A wedding brings with it several opportunities to celebrate with gifts, and the wedding registry typically points you to items that the couple needs to begin their life together. While the registry should certainly serve as your starting point as you explore gift options, you can focus your search in certain categories. The couple might want items for entertaining, including dinnerware, serveware, and glassware. Bath and bed linens instantly update their new home. Decorative accents, wall art, cookware, and small appliances are other options commonly found on wedding registries. Shopping the registry always ensures that you give the newlyweds precisely what they’re looking for.

Gifts for the New Parents

Celebrate a new addition by showering the parents-to-be with gifts for the baby. Many new parents create baby registries, especially if they’re having a shower, so check first to see if they’re registered anywhere. You can ask the baby shower host or the parents themselves for registry information. 

Consider gifting baby gear like a carseat, stroller, high chair, or bouncer. Make sure to choose these items off of a registry, as the parents have probably researched them to choose the right style for their needs. Diapers and wipes are always needed and appreciated, and designing a diaper cake can be fun for a shower gift. Cozy hooded towels, bath toys and even a baby bathtub are needed, too. 

Baby clothes are always fun to buy, but some couples might get overwhelmed with too many clothes. When choosing clothes, consider the season so that you don’t buy a summer outfit that’ll fit the baby during the cold winter months. Consider buying larger infant sizes 6 months and up since many people will focus on buying clothes the baby will wear right away. Many babies outgrow those tiny sizes quickly, so gifting clothes a few sizes up ensures that the family has a good supply of clothes to choose from for the baby’s first year.

Gifts for the Retiree

Celebrate a career well spent by giving a gift to the retiree. Consider your relationship with the retiree before you buy. You’ll choose a more personal gift for your mother than your supervisor, for example. Retirement gifts are often sentimental and can include framed mementos or photos from the retiree’s career. Consider, too, gifts that the retiree can use as they enter their next phase of life. Perhaps they plan to take up a hobby like golf or photography, and you can get them some gear to help get them started.

Gifts for the New Graduate

Graduation parties and announcements don’t necessarily require gifts, but you still might want to celebrate the new grad in your life. When shopping for a gift, think about items that the graduate can use as they enter their next phase of life. A high school graduate heading off to college might appreciate tech gear that makes life on campus easier or clothes and accessories sporting their college logo. College graduates embarking on the real world might appreciate housewares for their new home or apartment or accessories like portfolios or journals that they can use in their new job. 

Gifts for Kids

Shopping for children often seems easier than finding gifts for adults—after all, toys and games are always a hit. However, kids have many interests these days, and it’s always difficult to know which toys the child has and which ones they want. So, if you can’t ask the parents what the child is interested in, consider these gift ideas for kids of all ages.

  • Books – A favorite book set can be a gift that kids can enjoy again and again. Seek-and-find books, coloring books, and sticker books are fun options for toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Craft sets – Inspire kids’ creativity with craft sets and activities. Dough and sand kits are tactile activities that kids will enjoy. A wooden painting set, jewelry-making kit, and shrink art are other popular options that will delight kids who love to get creative.
  • Outdoor toys – Encourage kids to get outside and enjoy nature with outdoor gifts. Toddlers will love a child lawnmower toy or a wagon that they can use to tote around their toys. Chalk and bubbles are always a hit for kids. Big-ticket outdoor items include bicycles, ride-on toys, basketball hoops, and soccer goals.

Gifts for Tweens and Teens

Tweens and teens might seem like challenging people to give a gift to. Their interests are changing, and something they love one day might be forgotten about the next. But, these tried-and-true gift ideas are sure to make a tween or teen in your life smile. Consider these options.

  • Tech gifts – Technology is a must for this age group, so give tech accessories like smartphone cases or holders, a ring light, or earbuds.
  • Snack basket – Surprise tweens and teens by creating a gift basket filled with their favorite snacks and treats, along with a few they’ve never tried before.
  • LED lights – Add a cool and colorful vibe to the room with LED lights. You can find color-changing LED strips that stick to walls or bookshelves. Or, choose a light-up initial or a bright sign that illuminates an inspiring word or phrase.
  • Room upgrades – Tweens and teens love to spend time in their room, so make it fun. A mini refrigerator is the perfect spot to store extra drinks and snacks. A magnetic dartboard can attach to the back of the bedroom door. String lights add ambient lighting above their bed or mirror. 

Homemade Gifts

Homemade gifts can be a good option if you have a skill you’d like to share with family and friends. Perhaps you’re an expert baker who can create delicious treats. Maybe you’re a talented artist who can paint or draw a piece for someone special in your life. You can make jewelry, scented candles, or bath bombs. Create customized tumblers or t-shirts with a vinyl-cutting machine. Get your creative juices flowing and use your talents to create awesome homemade gifts for everyone on your list.

Experience Gifts

Gifts don’t always have to be tangible. In fact, experience gifts can be awesome gifts that deliver plenty of memories. Experience gifts come in many forms and should be tailored to your recipient and their interests. Consider a gift card to a new local restaurant or a wine or beer tasting at a local winery or brewery. Let your adventurous friend or family member enjoy a new activity, such as horseback riding or surfing lessons. Celebrate your parents’ milestone anniversary by sending them on a weekend getaway. Experience gifts can be small or large, lasting a few hours to a few days or more. Keep your recipient and your budget in mind when you’re choosing an experience gift.

Awesome Gift Presentation

You’ve learned how to buy awesome gifts, and now it’s time to wrap your gift and deliver it. You don’t have to be particularly crafty or artistic to present your gift beautifully, which adds the perfect finishing touch to your thoughtful gift. While a favorite wrapping paper and ribbon will certainly do, consider elevating your gift wrap with these ideas:

  • Use a fabric gift bag in a lovely print or pattern, which can serve as a reusable bag after the gift is opened.
  • Wrap a gift using plain brown paper, decorating it with twine or ribbon for a simple and timeless look.
  • Add a pop of color to any gift by adding a faux flower to the top of it.
  • If you’re skilled at hand lettering, let your words be a work of art on a solid colored wrapping paper.
  • Add a personalized touch to a gift by tying a wooden letter to the outside of the gift that features your recipient’s first or last initial. 

Conclusion

Never be fearful of gift shopping again. Thanks to this guide, you know all the basics about buying awesome gifts. Use these tips, along with a little bit of creativity, to shop confidently for gifts for everyone on your list. Understanding gifting etiquette, considering your recipient, and shopping at the right spots ensure that you find a gift that they’ll love.