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Ok, we’ve all been there. It’s only a few hours until a special occasion, and you suddenly realize that you’re gift-challenged. Where do you begin?

One tip I tell people is to keep a small notebook with you at all times. When family or friends off-handedly tell you about something they like, wish they had, or admire – make a note. Several weeks or months later you have a handy list to which to refer for a perfect gift!

If you haven’t been that proactive, there’s always asking people for a list of items, but that kind of eliminates the element of surprise. Nonetheless, if its something someone wants and needs you shouldn’t feel awkward. Just be clever in how you package it so they’re still surprised (you know, the old box within a ball, within a tube trick?).

The third option is a well-considered gift certificate. I know, sounds like a wimpy item, but really people love these. Think about magazines, memberships, pre-paid tuitions, books, music, gourmet foods, wine, or whatever! The beauty of a gift certificate is that you can often order it online and have it in your hand minutes later, and still have something incredibly personalized. The only downside is that people know how much you spent, which is sometimes perceived as a social faux pas.

Gift Certificate
Gift Certificate

Fourth, how about making the intended person something? If you cook, for example, you could put together a special “gift in a jar” or similar item that really speaks to the recipients taste buds. I have many friends who are vegetarian, for example, who love getting sensitively made foods where no meat products are even in the same prep space. You don’t have to be a great chef to make a really great tasting gift. One illustration is maple, cinnamon honey butter. Get a nice crock on the way home from work, blend soft butter in equal parts with honey, add maple/cinnamon spice and you’re done! If you feel really creative, package it with crackers or bread mix. The entire prep time here? Less than 20 minutes!

Just because you’re short on time, doesn’t mean you’re short on memory or consideration. THINK. What about this person stands out? Do they love their yard? Then maybe a pair of binoculars would fit the occasion (or a book on bird/butterfly watching). Are they avid cooks? Grab a few pots of fresh herbs and a nice container and make them a mini-kitchen garden. What’s most important here isn’t the timeline, its knowing the person to whom the gift is going, and tailoring your choice accordingly. Believe me, they’ll appreciate the thoughtfulness.


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