After the holiday season is over, there comes the potential for the dreaded re-gift. If people are smart, they’re re-gifting into a separate social circle, but if you’ve ever run across a gift in someone else’s house, or even a thrift shop, that you know you got for someone, you know the feeling. It isn’t fun. One easy way to avoid this is pre-gifting, or figuring out what people want and need well in advance. It’s a more extensive form of, you know, actively listening, but for people you don’t get to talk to enough.
The Holiday Spy Method
Alright, this is a little less sneaky than it probably sounds. The key is – especially if you don’t know certain people as well you do others – to talk to the people who do. By getting a sample from three to five people they know of what their interests are, and maybe some things they already have, you can get a good sampling of what they like and combine some of those things into one – if you know their favorite TV shows, or favorite sports teams, and you also know they love hoodies? You’ve got your gift right there.
The Over Coffee Method
This is that “active listening” thing in action, but you can still be a spy about it. Catch up with someone who is hard to buy for over coffee, and find out what they’ve been up to, including their hobbies, or who is important in their life. If their aunt or uncle was important in their life, you can play spy with someone in their family who can get you a photo of that aunt or uncle, and you have your custom gift ready to go. Who knows? Maybe your coffee becomes a fun tradition, and adds to the whole holiday spirit.
The Innocent Text Method
If you communicate with a hard to shop for person over text or instant message a lot, and especially if you’re always sharing funny things, it’s really easy to segue into, “wow, look at this” territory if you have something specific in mind. Of course, you run the risk of them being thoughtful and just getting that thing for you, instead, but you can be sneaky – maybe you suspect someone has already gotten it for you, but you still want to know what Mrs. or Mr. Hard to Buy For thinks.
The Friend Survey
If you don’t want to be sneaky, put together a survey on any number of free survey sites with gift types, subject matter, brands, etc that you think people might like, and send it out. You can be honest and say you’re shopping for them but you want some options – then you can do the mental math yourself when you get the survey back.
The Edible Method
No one throws away delicious food unless they’re allergic to it. Do your research and get/make them some delicious food. They’ll eat it, but they’ll also expect more next year, so be prepared!