The giving season is starting in my family. We have seven birthdays coming up in the last quarter of the year . And of course, there is also Christmas to top it all up.
I’m one of those people who love to buy and give presents. The surprise on someone’s face followed by an honest bust of joy is one of the greatest gifts I receive back for giving. It’s good to know that you help someone by presenting them with something they truly crave or need.
But finding out those things and picking up presents takes time. And time is a commodity not many people have in a busy place like London.
So this is what I do to make gift-hunting enjoyable..
The Hidden Wishlist – How it works
I created a hidden wishlist, that contains all my notes about potential good present candidates for my relatives. By good presents I mean things that they will find useful or beautiful (or both!).
1. Spotting the present candidate:
- A relative mentioned something they would love to have, but cannot afford or find.
- When visiting their home, I notice something worn off, broken or incomplete.
- I find an interesting item in a shop and it instantly triggers a “Anne would love this!” type of thought.
2. Remember it. Writing it down
As soon as I can I write my ideas down in my “Hidden Wishlist” Google Doc or my thin and handy passport size notebook that I carry around everywhere. The key is to keep track in a way that will help you remember what these ideas were when you shop.
I also try and keep track of people’s favourite colours, cloths sizes and other variables that can make or brake that prefect present.
3. Getting (or making) the presents
- If you see one of the presents from your list consider buying it on the spot, without waiting until a occasion comes your way. You can store it till the giving-time comes.
- Buy with seasons. Almost anything goes through a sales season sometime throughout the year, which means you may be able to save money.
- Pre-order or reserve. Some of the items on your list may be those hot sellers that go in minutes (like tickets for a concert or a new gadget that everyone seems to want). To cut the stress keep your hand on the pulse and pre-order or reserve wherever possible.
4. Giving, with or without occasion
Most presents fit any occasions and can be put aside to wait. Some though, don’t.
Be mindful of the occasions and timing. Cultural differences also may play a part.
Also, if a present you acquired can really help someone right now or has a ‘eat by:’ date consider giving it without occasion. Aren’t thoughtful gifts given without occasion great?
There will always be friends and relatives who do not do anything like the hidden wishlist, and therefore struggle when it comes to buying presents. For them, I have a personal wishlist accessible on-line 24/7 365 days a year.
It’s an integral part of of my private site. My husband and I update it whenever we think of something we’d love to have in our lives, but cannot find and/or afford to buy this very moment. The list can be sorted by type, price and person. We try and give as much detail as possible where appropriate. We also give links to specific shops and have a few all-rounders like gift cards to big department stores.
There is more on there than we expect to get or buy in the next few years. But that’s ok, because it means we get the element of pleasant surprise when something gets to be ticked off. A longer diverse list also means that it’s easier for our relatives and friends to pick something they can easily buy and – most importantly – afford.
Other People’s Wishlists
My husband’s family is great at writing up and sharing wishlists before birthdays, Christmas and the like. It’s a great and helpful idea in principal, but since the wishlist is distributed only a week or two before the occasion it leaves little time to shop around. It also makes it harder to organize a group purchase of a larger thing, were the costs should be shared.
It’s doable of course, and with family used to it it may be a very efficient system.
I tend to transfer items from these provided wishlists to my hidden one. I then update it after the event, crossing out anything that was given. It pays of tenfold, since people seem to often skip things they didn’t get in the past, feeling that maybe they shouldn’t be asking for them…
If you are like my relatives and provide your family and friends with a occasion-based wishlist I would encourage you to try and keep your personal wishlist avaliable and up-to-day all year round. It’s rather unlikely you suddenly do not want the things you did not receive already. It also frees your up from thinking in terms of what your relatives can afford or what is appropriate this time round.
What was the last wishlist you made?
Did it go down well in your family?
Cover image by Sig Hafstrom.