Science has taught us that giving to others can actually make us happier than spending that same amount of money on yourself, and redditgifts was founded on that same principle—gifting makes everyone happier and makes the world a better place. The feedback we receive from participants every day tell us this is true.
But there's a small catch. Before that happiness, there can be a whole lot of stress.
Finding the perfect gift for someone is HARD. Especially when it's your mother-in-law who "doesn't want anything this year, honey, just having you home for Christmas is enough" or a complete stranger on the internet that you got matched to for Secret Santa and with whom you have no interests in common (you're welcome).
But it’s okay, because we’re here to save you! We at redditgifts have watched complete strangers put together, send, and receive hundreds of thousands of gifts in our online gift exchanges, and we’ve learned a thing or two (or twelve) about what makes a great gift. This is the ultimate guide to finding the perfect gift for everyone.
1. First things first: Make a list of all the things the person is interested in and things that define who they are.
Make this list long—spend at least two full minutes writing down as many things as you can. Now brainstorm something to go with every item on that list, small or big. You don’t have to give all of those gifts, but you’re going to hit on some cool ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise, and when you combine a few of them, your giftee will appreciate how personal and thoughtful you were. They like Doctor Who and are also a grammar nerd? Done. Love manga or anime and also interested in cooking? Here's a great place to start (which would go perfectly with this). Obsessed with Game of Thrones? Get them an awesome GOT-inspired art print or T-shirt. One exchange participant who suffers from depression, loves science fiction, and is also interested in male fashion got a potentially life-changing gift that was perfectly tailored to him. You can sort through all the products in our marketplace by interest to easily find something for everyone.
2. Look to the past.
One gift exchange participant received a special mug memorializing a special moment, and such a seemingly small and simple gift brought tears to her eyes. One person in last year's Secret Santa turned a gorgeous photo their match had taken into a large canvas print so he would be able to display it in his home. Another revived their match's childhood by Nintendo 64. Maybe someone on your list recently graduated from college, and you could frame his diploma for display. Or let them revel in nostalgia with a fun Pokemon, Sailor Moon, or a Nintendo-inspired gift. And what child hasn’t wished they could eat just the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms box?
3. Ask yourself what that person needs, and put together a care package.
I know what you’re saying. Stop it. They DO need something. In last year's Secret Santa, one person put together a care package to help his giftee, who was turning 18 in just a few days, become a man. For one participant who has aspirations of becoming a published author, her gifter sent her a writing-themed package with several gifts large and small to help her achieve her goals. The key is to think broader about what that person's needs, goals, and aspirations are. What does a super busy successful businessman need? Time, probably. There are tons of products out there to help people run their lives more efficiently. You could even ask other people you know what their pro tips are. Have a sister in nursing school? Put together a student nurse survival kit like one gifter did! Gift baskets are popular for a reason—there's something about a collection of themed gifts coming together in a cohesive way that is just really cool, and you can accomplish that same thing. Pick one thing, and rather than trying to find one perfect gift, put together several smaller gifts around that topic.
4. Do some stalking.
If all else fails, stalk. If you've participated in Secret Santa exchanges before, you're familiar with this concept. But have you ever tried it on your friends and family members? Most people have a wishlist on Amazon, and they’ll be pretty surprised and delighted if you somehow found just the thing they wanted without even asking—and that they may have even forgotten they wanted themselves. Look through their Facebook history for clues. How many people have posted something and gone "OMG I NEED DIS!" before? Probably a lot. If they have a Pinterest account, that's a gold mine of all their tastes and anything they want. If you know their reddit username, you can see what types of things they’ve posted and commented on before, and they might even have a wishlist on the redditgifts marketplace!
5. Make the present an event.
Get creative with the packaging! Rather than just handing them a gift in regular wrapping paper, turn it into an experience they will enjoy. Hide his gift and send him on a scavenger hunt to find it. Rather than just giving him a gift card, hide a secret message in a Twilight book that sends him to the gift card code. Or sew her present into a giant stuffed shark so she has to do surgery on it to get it out. And never, ever, underestimate the sheer fun of unwrapping presents. Sometimes, quantity can mean quality, when it’s a bunch of small individually wrapped items.
6. Now, literally give an experience.
She loves Les Mis but already has the book and the movie and the movie poster? Buy her tickets to see the show. One of my all-time favorite gifts I’ve seen was a step-by-step mystery guide that sent the giftee to a restaurant, bought him a Flying Spaghetti Monster dinner, and paid for him and his date to play at the arcade.
7. Make them laugh.
Don’t just give a Kindle. Give your super liberal friend a Kindle hidden inside a copy of Sarah Palin’s autobiography. Know someone who loves potatoes? Give her 22 pounds of them. Give them a a hilarious T-shirt or something completely novel like shark fin ice cube trays, 3D dinosaur cookie cutters, or a unicorn sprinkles dispenser.
8. Give the gift of learning.
Is there something they want to learn to do? Make it happen! Last year one of our participants' got to go to racing school as part of her secret dream of becoming a race car driver. Another Santa gave their match everything they needed to learn to play the guitar. Help them fulfill a lifelong dream.
9. Include a little bit of yourself.
Make it personal in a different way—personalized from you rather than for them. Create a piece of art, write a song, knit a scarf—you get the idea. Combine this with one (or more) of the above suggestions for an ultra-personalized gift. Last year, one match made the MOST AMAZING painting ever of their match's pets, while another participant took the time to record a field trip for her match who couldn't go outdoors.
10. Make it taste good.
Food is the universal pleaser, and no one is ever really going to be disappointed by something that tastes wildly delicious. The key is to stay away from the boring stuff they can and do get all the time or the super cliche box of chocolates and instead get something delightfully different and exciting. Try some chocolate bacon truffles, Mountain Dew fudge, delicious garlic sauce, sriracha mayo, a set of deluxe and exotic hot sauces, gourmet flavored sea salts, and more.
11. Give the gift that keeps on giving.
Give them a subscription to coffee, global tea taster delivery, or stock their "mantry"—you could even give them monthly deliveries of socks or ties and other accessories. Go back to that list you made in #1 and figure out which of those can be turned into a subscription. This will keep them thinking of you all year long and appreciating your gift even after the original Christmas gift-getting experience wears off.
12. Be charitable.
Ok, so someone on your list REALLY has everything he or she needs? I don’t believe you, but that’s okay, because there are a lot of other people out there who don’t have everything they need. Find something they’re passionate about, and then donate to that cause. Did she volunteer in Haiti? Donate to the charity she went over there with. Is he a dog lover? Donate to an animal rescue. There are thousands of charities helping teens get off the streets, curing cancer, rehabilitating drug addicts, fighting for women’s reproductive rights, and more. Make a gift to a cause that matters in their name. For Arbitrary Day this year, Nissan planted almost 17,000 trees in their match's name in the area where she is from because she is passionate about the environment. In last year's Secret Santa, Bill Gates also made headlines by donating to a charity on behalf of his match (and did we mention he's participating in Secret Santa again this year?).