Tamra Booth, Keeeps
There was a time when the practice of “re-gifting” was looked down upon. Times have changed and a “present drawer” is now as commonplace as a sock drawer. The backlash against the throw-away society has removed the shame of passing on unwanted or unneeded gifts. The embarrassment of re-using wrapping paper is also now gone as we re-wrap and re-use gift bags with pride rather than fear of exposure.
But whilst we all embrace re-wrapping and re-gifting, let’s face it, no-one wants their lovingly selected gifts to be met with an insincere “Oooh it’s lovely” and a grimace that really says, “Oh my god it’s awful”. At worst, the giver feels like they have wasted precious time and effort, and the recipient feels like the giver does not really understand their wants and needs. Not good.
I am terrible at disguising my dislike of unwanted presents. I think it is because I am crap at lying to my loved ones, I am too much of an open book. My whole family brace themselves at birthdays and Christmas as I open presents. I am not ungrateful, far from it, I just don’t want them to waste their money on something destined for the present drawer. Secondly, I don’t want to get into a spiral of years of inappropriate gifts and insincere thanks.
So, what do I do? I just say, “Oh god, I’m so sorry, I just don’t think I am going to use this.” So rude, I know, but there it is. Subsequently, I no longer have a present drawer and I also seem to receive more gifts vouchers, which are great presents! And I also often get a gift receipt thrown in with the wrapped present which is an easy way to save everyone any embarrassment. I love a gift receipt!
Here are my Top 10 Tips for buying gifts that will not leave you and the recipient feeling awkward or misunderstood:
- Really think about the recipient and what their style, likes and dislikes are. What do they talk about? Think about recent chats you’ve had with them - inspiration can come from the most flippant comment – “My dog knocked over my beautiful vase last week”, “My handbag is so old”, “I haven’t been to the cinema in years”, “I’ve been thinking of taking up yoga”.
- Try and stay focussed on what they like and do not get distracted subconsciously on what you like. Look around their home, check out what they follow on Instagram and Facebook.
- For inspiration, browse websites that specialise in unique and unusual gifts for the home – Not on the High Street, Keeeps, Etsy and Folksy all have a wide range of handmade homeware gifts to suit most tastes and budgets.
- Don’t view a gift voucher as a last-minute cop-out – for many, a voucher is a decadent treat – the recipient can now get that item they couldn’t justify spending their own hard-earned cash on. John Lewis is great because if they don’t like the shop, they can always spend it in Waitrose! White Company vouchers usually go down well, and Selfridges present their vouchers in a nice gift box.
- Unless you know the person well, avoid beauty products, toiletries and perfume – people tend to have specific brands and products that they like, plus this helps you avoid the minefield of allergies. If you really want to buy smellies, then Space NK is expensive but excellent. Or try Feel Unique online. And if you stick to lip glosses and lipsticks, you can’t go too far wrong.
- Food and beverage (especially of the alcoholic kind) are usually well-received but go for luxury versions from say Fortnum & Mason or just pop into a wine and spirit merchants that has excellent customer service like Majestic or Laithwaites. Or even kitchenware and stylish containers for food and drink, try the Conran Shop or Keeeps.
- Flowers are so beautiful, who doesn’t love flowers? But how about also buying a vase or plant pot that they can then keep. You can never have too many vases.
- Candles, candles and more candles. But don’t be thrifty. Good candles are expensive for a reason, there’s a real science to mastering scents and wax. Jo Malone and Neom Organics are two of my favourite scented candle companies.
- For last minute shopping, look for websites that post direct to the recipient and who gift wrap, but who do it well. Amazon gift wrap but the quality is a bit hit-and-miss. Gift wrapping is something we take pretty seriously at Keeeps. You can’t beat the rustle of tissue and the excitement of the grand unveiling of a special present.
- Remember to ask for a gift receipt and wrap it with the present. It tells the recipient that you have tried hard to choose something they like, but that you don’t mind if you didn’t get it quite right and they want to change it. Big sigh of relief all round!
Let me know of other places to buy amazing gifts and presents, I always like learning of new ideas for giving.