Chickadee asked about a post of our own that we really liked. I looked back on this one from last year, and it is still appropriate. Gift buying can be hard, when you don't know someone well, or can't make up your mind. Here are some tips!
I thought I would help some people out by posting about what I think is appropriate and NOT so appropriate for gift buying. As a school teacher, I am given gifts at Christmas by many of my lovely students, and I do appreciate them. Mostly. And since I know many of you are Moms, I thought I would help you out when you are selecting gifts for your child's teacher. Although, this list can pretty much apply to buying any kind of gift for a woman, if I may be so bold, so if you need to, print this out and give it to your husband.
(This advice only applies if you are going to buy a gift. If you were not planning on it, or can't afford it, please ignore these tips. But I just know there are so many confused people out there that just don't know what to buy!)
1. Don't spend more than you can afford. Really. Don't. If I know you and know your financial status from things you've said like "I can't afford the good cable, I only have 8 channels" then I know you can't afford to buy me an expensive present. And I will feel guilty if you do. Don't go without food to get me a necklace. I'm ok with a card. And, you can ignore the other tips about what to buy if you just shouldn't be spending your money on gifts and you should be sending it to the credit card company. Dave Ramsey says so.
2. Homemade things are great. I love a great homemade bread or ornament, or craft that shows your personality. It shows you took time to make me something. Now, there is a sidenote to this when giving to teachers: cookies are great, but think about how many we will get. I have 700 students and while I don't get something from everyone, I do get gifts from about 50 families. If everyone made me cookies...see the problem here? And I am on a diet. And I might be allergic to nuts. So, unless you make something really unique and special, buy me some earrings.
3. Food should be combined with small tokens. Again, if you are going to make me food, keep me in mind. If you don't know me well, and don't know I'm on a diet, then you've given me something that I will have to throw away later. I'm sorry about that. But if you combine those cookies with an ornament, or those earrings, say, then I can have something to keep.
4. Know your audience. Don't buy a librarian a gift card to Best Buy unless you have overheard her say "I really need the latest and greatest 55 inch plasma flat screen tv to hang on my wall right next to the stockings." Think about what they like and stick to it. I promise you, I LOVE it when I get Barnes and Nobles cards.
5. If you don't know your audience, get a generic gift card. Everyone can use Target cards if you have a Target near you, but not everyone likes Cucumber Melon lotion/bubblebath/soap/candles/body spray, etc. I know they sell those gift packs EVERYWHERE, and that seems to be the go-to gift if you don't know what else to buy, but if I can't return it or exchange it, please, get a gift card or make me something. If you know me, then you know I get headaches from strongly scented stuff, and I only like citrus scented things.
6. Don't overspend. You may know that I want this $50 sweater cause we casually talked about it, but if you are only an aquaintance, and I'm just going to give you a card, don't buy me that sweater. Please. It will only make me feel bad that I didn't spend the same amount. That negates the pleasure I will get from the sweater.
7. Pottery Barn is also a safe choice. Well, not for everyone, just me. Again, know your audience. I really can't stress this enough.
8. Time is a great gift, but you have to follow up. If you give someone a night of free babysitting, call them in two weeks and set the date. Many people love this gift, but feel shy about redeeming it. Offer to pick up your mom's leaves or help paint a room, but follow up.
9. If you don't know someone well, but want to do something for the holiday, pick out a nice card and write a heartfelt note. For example "Dear Stranger, I am really glad that we met this year and I look forward to getting to know you better. Isn't it great that we have XYZ in common? I'm so thankful to whoever for introducing us and I hope you have a wonderful holiday." See? Friendship is a great gift.
10. Don't exchange gifts...just go out for coffee or the movies or dinner together. I think togetherness is an awesome gift. Don't get me a candle....but maybe you and I can go hit the after christmas sales together and have lunch. I'll buy your lunch and you buy mine. Deal?
11. Little things are special. An ornament from a unique place, a pair of silly socks, silver earrings, a pin, some gloves. A gesture is sometimes all you need.
12. When in doubt, ask. ASK! Say "Hey friend, I wanted to get you something for Christmas, but I don't know what you might like. Here are the ideas I had....is there something you would like?" By default the person will usually say "don't get me anything" cause they're being nice, but then usually they'll give you some hint. I think it's great when my mom asks me what I want instead of getting me a Snowman Sweater that I won't wear. This year when people asked we told them add to our adoption account. It's what we need right now. And I know some people will still give us gifts instead, but my family is sighing in relief that they can just give us cash. See? They know their audience.
Now, you don't have to take my advice, you don't. Not at all. But if you struggle every year to think of something to buy someone, read back through the tips again and then really think about that person. If you can't think of their hobbies or likes, then get a gift card to Target or a restaurant and put a bow on it. They will love you. I promise.