My gift arsenal
When wandering around the mall or browsing stores online just doesn't seem to be cutting it, this my go-to gift arsenal. Many focus on experiences rather than things, and a large part relies on tailoring your thoughtfulness to the specific person in mind to give a fitting gift, and one the person will surely, surely love.
Concerts and shows and games
Who wouldn’t want to see Jerry Seinfeld (tickets currently on sale for his tour)? What about the hilarious and entertaining Book of Mormon that is offensive to all and therefore offensive to no one? Browse the lineups of local venues for concerts, or branch out a little with the idea of a mini getaway to go see a performer you love. Does your person have a favorite college or pro team, or a favorite sport to watch? Consider tickets to a matchup. Although these types of gifts may feel like a splurge, you’re treating yourself at the same time, and the experience you’ll share together is worth exponentially more than the price tag. It is also such an exciting thing to give—the excitement this kind of gift evokes is unparalleled and you REALLY feel like you ‘done good.’ Does the person’s favorite author or coach give talks or make other appearances? That would make a fantastic and unique gift.
THE COMBINED GIFT
Sometimes, bigger just is better. If you’re gifting to someone for whom smaller gifts don’t seem to be a great match (parents and grandparents often come to mind), it can be fruitful to go in on a bigger ticket item with your siblings or friends to get more bang for your buck and give something the person truly wants or needs and wouldn’t have expected to receive. My brothers and I tend to do this with our parents, and last year we got my mom a baller Weber grill. It didn’t cost each of us and our mates any more than buying individual gifts, but the result felt more worth it. My friends and I have also used this tactic for each other’s birthdays. Think: a nice wallet or watch, pricey electronics, jewelry, home accents, or in a different direction: plane tickets or a trip (PS: are you aware of the affordability of a trip to France currently? Look into it if you haven't yet).
A learning experience
Get the ball rolling on the dance classes you and your friends have always talked about trying; give yoga or barre passes to someone who’s been itching to try out some new exercise classes but has been hesitant to spend the dough. What about a cooking class at a local culinary center, or any other kind of instructional? Sailing lessons, guitar lessons, welding lessons, snowboarding lessons, pottery making, or photography classes. What would your person love to learn or try, especially with you by their side? Such a great gift!
When I was first living in Rochester after college, for my mom’s birthday I gave her gift certificates for all sorts of stuff to do on a visit to come see me. I made a series of flash cards revealing my plans for the trip, including things like a coffee shop gift certificate, a gift card to a favorite store for shopping, a manicure, gift certificates for lunch and dinner dates, as well as a great cocktail bar for drinks, movie passes to a local theatre, and other ideas for how we’d spend our time, even if the ideas wouldn’t cost any money. Even if you don’t cover the full cost of the activities, it’s just a super thoughtful way of treating someone to a special day or couple of days, and it will ensure that the trip actually happens! Think movie passes, museum passes, restaurant gift certificates, and other priceless options and ideas for exploring an an area.
spa day, wine tour, or other "treat yo' self" activities
This is the ultimate decadent and indulgent gift that, let’s be real, no one wants to buy for herself (or himself!). There is nothing quite as relaxing as a day at the spa or a day drinking wine with good company. These types of events truly feel like an escape from reality, and chances are they are a far cry from anyone's typical day. It's so exciting to be the recipient of such lavishness, and it's a much better excuse to indulge when someone has gifted it to you! Consider a couples treatment, a girls' wine tour, manicures for you and your mom, a wine tour for your parents, or a facial for your best friend. Although this may be a little pricier, it certainly packs a punch and would make a great “treat yo’self” gift.