Which means, as it does every year, that 2021 has now rounded third base and is headed for home.
In other words, the holiday season is here!
And while holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas are meant to elicit feelings of joy, humility, togetherness, merriment, and gratitude, we also know that there is some additional emotional baggage that often comes along for the ride ...
Namely: the pressure to find The Perfect Gift.
The pressure feels especially acute this year with supply chain problems causing inventory and distribution issues across the globe.
So even if you think of The Perfect Gift, will it be in stock and available in time for when you need it?
That's why I wanted to send this email this week.
You still have plenty of time to stay ahead of the game and get the gifts you need in time ... so that you can show up with more than an apologetic I.O.U.
And hey, my goal with this email is to help you think better. So if I can help you think of good gifts now, then I can help you prevent the build-up of anxiety, stress, and distraction that a partially filled (or *gasp* even empty) gift list adds to your mental load with each passing November and December day.
Let's do this.
To help you identify the Perfect Gifts for the most important people in your lives, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Has a product radically altered my life in some way this year?
This is a great place to start, because you'll have first-hand experience with whatever the product is.
For example, last year I got Allbirds shoes for the first time. They're amazing. Comfortable, eco-friendly, stylish, etc.
Plus they hit two big bullet points for me: you can wear them without socks and they are easy to wear and remove without untying the laces.
I've now given them as gifts to my mom, dad, brother, and aunt. And each person who has gotten them has loved them.
But beware: just because you love a product, doesn't mean that others necessarily will. So you need to combine your answer to this question with enough knowledge and empathy to know if it will actually be a good match.
If it is, this is low-hanging fruit for finding great gifts.
2. Has [insert person's name here] experienced a significant life change this year?
During this calendar year, my wife and I have moved houses and welcomed our second child into the world. So it's been a series of significant life changes.
Which is why my gift ideas list for my wife is filled with items for our house. I've been taking notes all year long of comments she's made, and I'll be turning those notes into gifts during the annual anniversary-birthday-Christmas triumvrate that occurs between November 25th and December 25th. :-)
How about the people on your list:
- Did someone change jobs?
- Did someone graduate from one level of school to the next?
- Did someone get married (or get divorced)?
- Did someone have kids?
- Did someone have their last kid move out?
All of these are examples of significant life changes that mean new experiences, opportunities, and desires are around the bend.
A little bit of time spent thinking about what gifts might complement these changes may lead you to The Perfect Gift.
And finally ...
3. What would help [insert person's name here] be more efficient/productive/healthy/successful in 2022?
This is an easy catch-all type question that will inevitably lead you to at least a Good Gift, and maybe even The Perfect Gift, if the previous two questions don't lead you to the answer.
What does everyone aspire to do in 2022? Simple: Be better.
It seems to be innate in human nature that as the calendar turns to the perceived fresh start of a new year, we find renewed sources of motivation to improve a bunch of different ways.
So you can't go wrong with a gift that will help people achieve their new (or resurrected) goals.
The challenge is knowing exactly what an individual person's new year goals might be. But that's okay. We can work with that.
Ask yourself this: what is one fundamental element of any improved behavior?
And hey, I think we both know of a product that can help out with that. ;-)
I hope those three questions help. My goal for you is the same goal I have for myself when it comes to choosing gifts: I want to have fun indulging in the spirit of gift giving while minimizing the stress and anxiety that come along for the ride.
The way I can give meaningful gifts and still have plenty of time and clarity of mind over the holidays to think about and appreciate what really matters.
In this week's THINKERS Roundup, I've collected a few articles that provide additional insight on how to think about choosing the right gifts.
Some additional questions to inspire your thinking
"Are they more short on money or time?
"Most people have either more disposable time or more disposable income. (Of course, some are short on both, but often one need is more pressing than the other.)
"Offer something that fills a gap where your gift recipient is 'less full.'"
Read: 12 Questions To Find The Perfect Gift For Everyone On Your List (Honestly Modern)
Remember that a gift doesn't always have to be a thing.
"Receiving gifts is not everyone's love language. A home-cooked meal, or an offer to walk their teacup pig while they’re on vacation, might do more for your relationship than anything tied with a bow. Also, there’s never a clear price tag on these types of gestures, but the effort can make them quite valuable."
Read: How to Give a Great Gift (The New York Times)
It really is the thought that counts
"We've been conditioned by holiday marketing campaigns to believe that the more money you spend on someone the better the gift or gifts will be, and the happier the recipient. Science says otherwise, however. You know that saying "It's the thought that counts?" When it comes to giving gifts, truer words were never spoken."
Read: Science Reveals How To Choose The Perfect Gift (The List)
Quote of the week
"The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value."
-- Charles Dudley Warner