Giving gifts should be a fun and personal experience. And as they say, "It's the thought that counts". So make sure you put the right amount of thought into the gifts you give for every person on your list by following our checklist of what NOT to give:
Rule #1: Avoid gifts of utility
In general, unless someone specifically asks for (or hints at) a gift like this, don't give it! It is really easy to take the gift the wrong way - a scale could imply the person is overweight or a vacuum cleaner could imply you think their house is messy.
Rule #2: Do preliminary research
Make sure you know the age and gender of the recipient; if you're buying for a coworker's child, for example, it makes a big difference if the child is a baby or a teenager! Also try to ask what other gift givers are giving so the person doesn't end up with duplicates. My grandpa used to love putting puzzles together and every Christmas would receive about 30 puzzles as gifts! It was funny at first but year after year it came to be way too much.
You may find the gift fun, original, and surprising, but the recipient might think it's tacky and will never use it. If you're unsure, then don't get it. Simpler is usually better. For example, you may think a Christmas-themed candle holder is absolutely perfect, but to make sure your gift is well-received, maybe you could get some solid-colored candles instead. It's the same idea but is less specific to your tastes.
Rule #4: Avoid the gift that keeps on taking
It may seem like a good idea to buy a child a themed Lego set, until they point out that they need the other boxes in the set in order to build anything worthwhile. Now the parents have to go out and buy MORE stuff in order to make the toy useful. Or a dartboard without the darts or martini glasses without a martini shaker. Same goes for things that require batteries. Either buy everything they need to make it useful or choose another gift. That isn't to say that you need to buy EVERYTHING - for example, you could give a dollhouse for a gift and then for years continue buying furniture and decorations for it. Presents like that will continue to give you gift ideas for years to come. Just be sure that the first gift you give is useful in itself and doesn't cost the person time or money to get use out of it.
Rule #5: Regifting
Regifting is actually a great way to put items to good use, while saving money and making someone happy at the same time. There's nothing wrong with regifting as long as you do it right. First, the item has to be new. This means that it's either in its original packaging or you can wrap it in a way that will feel like it's new - no one wants to know they've received a regifted gift! Second, make sure it's something you would want to give the person anyway. Don't just dig around your house for something you can get rid of. Make sure it's a gift they would truly enjoy. Wrap it up nicely and deliver with a thoughtful card and no one has to know you didn't buy it especially for that occasion!
Follow these tips and you should be able to avoid some of the surprisingly common pitfalls in gift-giving. And remember, when you're the recipient of a gift, no matter how zany it may be, always accept it graciously and be happy that someone cared enough to give a gift at all! At a minimum, it could make a great gift for someone else next year or could make for a great story!
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