How do you find the perfect gift for anyone regardless of the recipient’s age? I’ve always believed that the general principle for finding the best gift ideas remains the same: thought about the receiver comes first—the gift itself just takes second place.
That basic principle essentially implies that the idea of a perfect gift actually doesn’t exist as a universalizable idea. Put another way, there’s no such thing as a standard “perfect gift” for anyone that matches a particular profile, demographic, or description. Every so-called best gift is as unique as the recipient and the purpose for which it is given.
To illustrate this, think of Christmas gift ideas to give to your spouse. If you intend to buy one online, you’ll probably browse tens or hundreds of gift registry sites that list Christmas gifts, gifts for husbands, gifts for wives, and the like. This pattern of gift searching relies on the process of elimination—that is, of narrowing down millions of gift items to just one or two—and then purchasing one while hoping that it will be the perfect present for the receiver. But, this method limits your search in a lot of ways. For instance, it limits your ideas to the season or holiday. Surely, you want to give the best gift not because of the holiday but despite the holiday.
An Easier Way
Is it wrong to search for great gift ideas in that manner? Of course, not. But, is there an easier, smoother way showing the deeper thought and reflection you’ve put into your gift giving act? Yes, there is.
Any present is perfect only insofar as it meets a specific purpose. Let’s take this statement a bit further. Different people have different purposes for the gifts that they give. Most of those purposes are practically laced with self-serving motives. Most people give gifts to satisfy another’s wants. Yet, the most thoughtful, noble, and special gift you can give is one that helps fulfill the recipient’s need.
Everyone has both wants and needs, and at the end of the day, it’s those gifts that fulfill a need that count and matter more (and are often fondly remembered). After all, everyone can live without getting what one wants. Imagine yourself as the recipient of a special gift. Can you say to the gift giver, “You do love me and care for me. You were there in my need”?
Taking the recipient’s need as your foremost consideration in deciding what gift to give lifts your gift giving several notches higher than routine, superficial, thoughtless, and meaningless giving. So, if you intend to practice a more loving and more genuinely human way of giving the best gift to your loved ones, try the needs-based approach.
The Liberating Formula
For brevity’s sake, I’ve summed it into a formulaic fill-in-the-blanks statement that goes like this:
“My gift’s receiver needs help with _____________________. I can help this person by giving her or him a _________________.”
That formula is a very liberating formula because it:
- frees you from the constraints of holiday-themed giving;
- frees you from the constraints of popularity-based gifts ideas;
- gives you more leeway to come up with a more intimate, more meaningful, and more useful gift idea;
- points you to a gift idea that fulfills a need (i.e., the receiver’s), for which the receiver will hopefully be grateful;
- frees you from the time-consuming, hit-or-miss process of sorting out gift suggestions because right from the start, you already have a clear idea of the specific purpose for the gift item that you intend to give; and
- frees you from the idea that a gift is always physical, material, or tangible. Not all gifts are tangible. In many situations, the best gift is the intangible kind: the gift of presence, the gift of time, the gift of reassurance, the gift of appreciation expressed in a handwritten note, etc.
Take note that the intended recipient may express her or his needs either explicitly or indirectly. Regardless, you have to know what those are. Sometimes, you even need to figure out those unexpressed needs on your own. Giving a helpful gift for someone’s unexpressed need often spices up your gift giving with the element of surprise, which always results in delight: “Oh, oh, oh! How did you know I needed this? Thank you! I do need this.”
In conclusion, do not start your search on a gift registry site or a themed listing of gift ideas. Instead, start your search from your mind and fill your thoughts with the recipient and his or her needs. Only then can you really begin a worthwhile search for perfect gift ideas for that person you care about.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/artotemsco/3713942772/