Someone once told me there are three main ways that people like to receive love: verbal encouragement, physical affection, and receiving gifts from loved ones. These do not have to be expensive gifts, but they should be thoughtful. Simple gestures like cooking dinner when you know they’re short on time, or buying them something small you know they need can go a long way.
For those who are not great at expressing themselves verbally and have trouble showing physical affection, gestures are the best way to show their family, friends and partners that they love them, and Christmas is the perfect time of year to share the love.
On top of that, giving gifts often makes us a lot happier than if we’d saved that money for ourselves. Nothing can beat that moment when you give the perfect gift, and you see their eyes light up with excitement as a massive grin spreads across their whole face. Unfortunately, before that, comes the stress. What do I buy them? How do I make sure it’s something no one else will get them? Plus, a million other panicked questions flying through your head at a hundred miles a minute. Then there’s the crowded stores full of panicked shoppers, queues out the door, with presents falling off the shelves in pure chaos. Not the ideal environment when you’re trying to get into your perfect present buying zone…. which is exactly why online shopping is becoming more and more popular every year when it comes to the all-important Christmas shop.
This article is here to help ease your present buying stress, and answer any questions that may be running through your head. We’ll cover pretty much everything, from how to buy a unique gift tailored to personality, to homemade presents, to buying on a budget!
One of the most difficult tasks when Christmas shopping is making sure you buy something different. You want to make sure the recipient isn’t expecting it, but also that no one else has thought to buy them your gift. As much as I love walking around Flying Tiger and Topshop, their stock is everywhere and people end up with the same things, making them seem a lot less special and therefore less sentimental. So, where are the best places to buy Christmas gifts? Online stores such as Etsy and Not on the High Street have thrived in recent years, with an endless marketplace of bespoke homemade items and one time only offers. I once bought my friend a homemade magnet of Terry Crews sitting naked in a pot of yoghurt from Etsy (a reference from his favourite show. Extra points if you know what it is!) and it is still proudly on his fridge to this day. I’m not suggesting that you should buy your 90-year-old gran a magnet of naked Terry Crews, but I am suggesting that you should think about your recipient’s interests. What are their favourite shows, books, and board games? Pop-culture merchandise is everywhere, and from my brother’s many tattoos of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Pokémon and Marvel I can assure you that fans are extremely dedicated.
The simple answer to this is that your gift should be thoughtful. Shop by their personality and interests, and above all, pay attention to them. Here are a few of our top tips when buying an important gift this Christmas:
1. Something that is all too common when shopping for others is asking yourself what you would like, and buying that for your giftee. I’m sorry to tell you, it’s not that easy. Just because you love music doesn’t mean they do. Just because you think that top would look cute on you, does not mean it would suit them. We recommend making a list of all their interests and hobbies and going from there.
2. Another thing to take into consideration is what they may have mentioned before in passing conversation. Do they have a bucket list? Are they going to try a bungee jump or a helicopter ride one day in the future? Well, why not now? Have they ever said they’d love a spa day or a massage, but they could never justify spending that amount of money on themselves? Then buy it for them!
3. Make it personal. Why not include a little bit of you in the gift, a memory you have together that you know means a lot to both of you? Frame a treasured photo, write a poem, something specially from you. If you’re not naturally gifted at that sort of thing, you can always go to an art class or jewellery making workshop to make sure your gift is the best it can be. Be careful here though – it’s just like our first tip stated, its not all about you; it’s about you giving your time and effort to do something they’ll appreciate.
4. If you know they’re someone who likes a joke, add some humour! The gift of laughter is a brilliant one for everyone involved. Think of something they eat way too much of, Kit-Kats for example, and buy them 100. Their weird celebrity crush is Paul Hollywood? Buy them a life sized cut out. Novelty gifts like rubber fish slippers and naked aprons are always a bit of fun. One of our top selling gifts is Sausage Making in Northumberland, and I can tell you from the giggling customer on the phone and the reviews on the product that no one is taking this gift too seriously!
5. Turn into a social media detective for 15 minutes. If you aren’t super close to the person you’re buying a gift for, then use the tools at your disposal. Have a little scroll through their Instagram or Facebook to see what their favourite things to do are. My friend once made me a coffee and walnut cake for my birthday because he found a picture of one on my Instagram from 2015, and I was amazed he knew my favourite flavour.
6. Give things that taste good. Maybe I’m coming from a biased standpoint here because I love food, but doesn’t everyone? It’s a universal necessity to all human beings to keep us alive, where can you go wrong? There are exotic hot sauces, truffled cheeses and artisan chocolates everywhere. Introduce someone to something they’ve never tried before, and you’ll be the one that kickstarted a new food obsession! Even if they’re not a foodie, I bet they love a drink, right? Stop buying your mum and dad the same bottles of gin and whiskey every year, and get them a distillery tour or a gin making experience to mix it up a little.
We all know someone who says they already have everything they want and need. Let’s face it, that’s unlikely. What they really mean is please don’t buy me stuff I don’t want and won’t use. I must admit that I absolutely hate clutter, and the thought of people buying me loads of little unnecessary gifts that I’m going to need to find space for in my small flat fills me with dread.
1. Give them an experience. Giving people experiences over possessions is becoming more and more popular each year. As cheesy as it sounds, you really are giving them a memory they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. My mum loves musicals and ABBA, but she’d never been to the theatre before, so I took her to see Mama Mia in the West End with a theatre and dinner package. Around once a month, she still brings up how special it was! What if the person you’re buying a gift for has already done everything? They’ve travelled the world, been in helicopters and hot air balloons, jumped off cliffs, you name it. Well, have they been Alpaca trekking in Kent? Beekeeping and beer tasting in London? There are hundreds of weird and whacky activities around these days that will give them a new and interesting story to tell all their friends.
2. Give them your time. Quite often, they just want to make new memories with you! Experiencing new things that require you to work together is a great way to give your time and make some fun memories. Why not spend some time solving puzzles and finding clues to escape a locked room, or take a special date night cooking class where you can learn a new skill together alongside a cute candlelit meal?
3. This brings me on to my next great idea: the gift of learning! I’m not only talking about the cooking lessons, art & craft workshops and photography classes we sell (although obviously they’re great), has your giftee ever expressed an interest in learning a new skill? Maybe they have a goal they’re trying to reach in their career? My friend was keen to start vlogging, so I helped pay for a 5-day beginners’ course in video editing. This is a gift that gives someone who ‘has everything’ something they really need. Something that helps them for their future and shows them that you support them in what they’re trying to achieve.
4. Experiences aren’t for everyone. I’m sure you know someone who is always super busy; they have a stressful job, a family to look after and they simply do not have the time. For these people, I would recommend seeing what you can do to give the gift of time. Offer to pay for a babysitter for the night, send them some great time management apps, or if you’re feeling really generous you could even offer to do their chores for a week.
We all love giving and receiving gifts, but they are not the be-all and end-all of Christmas. The best way to address not having much money to spend on gifts this Christmas is to just be honest! Let your family and friends know that you don’t have as much as you’d like this year. They’ll understand; it’ll be about spending time together, not who can spend the most money! Here are a few of our tips for buying Christmas gifts on a budget.
1. Secret Santa it! If you have a large family, then it often ends up that everyone gets lots of little things that they didn’t need or want, because you simply can’t afford to spend more than £10 on everyone. So why not pull names out a hat and set a larger budget? Excluding a few toys for the younger children, that gives you a super low budget for Christmas, and everyone gets something nice!
2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, homemade gifts! Don’t be afraid to get creative, put in some effort and time, and save a bit of money. If you’re not a creative person, then a simple care package is a great way to go, filled with their favourite sweets, chocolates and cheap treats.
3. Create a budget and shop online. Shopping online makes it much easier to see exactly how much is in your basket and how much you’re spending on each person, as well as overall. It’s all too easy to get carried away in the shops, buying lots of little things without realising how much they’re adding up to.
4. Search for those all-important special offers and filter your searches by price. Under £50, under £30 & under £20 are all good places to start depending on your budget. Utilise the ever-growing Black Friday trend and make sure you subscribe to companies e-marketing newsletters, because they’re always full of deals!
5. Sell your old things. If you’re in need for a little extra cash, then Christmas is the perfect time of the year to sell, because there are a lot of people looking to buy! What about that present you got last year that you know you’ll never use? Flog it. Or those pair of jeans that you haven’t been able to fit into for 6 years? Maybe it’s finally time to let them go.
It’s important to be mindful when looking for gifts these days. I’m not going to go all preachy on you, but it never hurts to look after the environment and do what you can when you can, right?
The mass production of plastic as well as fast fashion is getting a little out of hand. The biggest thing here is to ask yourself if this gift is really needed. Buying second-hand doesn’t always mean your gifts will have been used before. Charity shops, eBay and Depop will all be full of unused gifts from last year, and take it from me, you can get some absolute bargains.
I’m sure you already saw it coming, but if you’re worried about your environmental footprint… why not buy an experience? Our e-voucher can be with you in minutes, with no delivery emissions, no unnecessary packaging and no waste.
Even better, you could always donate to a charity that your giftee supports. If they’re always giving to the homeless then give to Shelter, helping find houses for homeless people across the country. If they love animals, then sponsor an endangered species you know they love.
The ongoing environmental crisis isn’t getting any better (as I’m sure you know.) So, try to stop yourself buying unnecessary gifts and think about the bigger picture where you can. It’s always better to make small changes rather than no changes at all.
I hope I’ve helped ease your PPP (present-purchasing panic) and given you a few ideas for different gifts. If not, hopefully the ball is now at least rolling, and the cogs in your brain have started ticking. If you would like to browse our complete list of experience gifts, you can do so here. As long as you take the giftee’s interests into account and put as much thought and effort into your gift as possible, then I’m sure they’ll be delighted no matter what you come up with. If you have any questions about buying an experience gift this Christmas, please feel free to contact us.