If you are a type-A personality, that is to say you are hyper-organized, ambitious, hard-working, and self-driven, then you already know that gift-buying season is upon us. If, on the other hand, you’re a procrastinator, consider this your friendly reminder to take Santa’s advice to heart. The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are the perfect time to make your list and check it twice. You won’t want to miss out on Black Friday sales, during which retailers deeply discount merchandize for you holiday shopping pleasure.
You also want to make sure that you give yourself enough time to gather all the gifts you’ll give, wrap them, and if you live with the people you are shopping for, to hide them until it’s time to open them. Whether you plan on physically going to shops to purchase gifts or to order them over the internet, a list is your friend. It will allow you to budget, mark off accomplished tasks, and ensure that every special person in your life is getting something they will truly appreciate.
When you feel the holidays approaching, do you immediately think of (or worry about) the people in your life who are especially hard to shop for? Those who are so practical and pragmatic that a gift must truly fulfill a purpose to be truly appreciated? Like everyone else, I have a few of these people in my life: friends and family who are focussed on their interests and unmoved by generic gifts (chocolate, wine, socks). Chances are these individuals are themselves obsessive, hyper-driven people who already have exactly what they need. So what could a self-sufficient person possibly want?
First, there are two bits of good news for online shoppers. If you are like me and cannot justify the hours spent going to shops and fighting the crowds, shopping online is a lifesaver. But until recently, using a service like Amazon Prime automatically revealed the items you browsed and bought everyone else sharing your account. This made surprising your partner or your teenager difficult. Now, you have the option to lock your profile on Amazon, so that your loved one can keep using your sign in, without ruining the surprise for themselves.
If shopping online triggers your guilt about the carbon footprint our commercial behavior leaves behind, start now and request that the items be grouped together for shipping. With more retailers becoming conscious of the environmental impact of our consumption of goods, this is an option that will save time, boxes, packaging plastics, and the fuel necessary to get the items to you. Since you will be individually wrapping each gift, this strategy will work wonderfully, but only if you start planning early enough to make it work.
So, now that some of the technical aspects of getting holiday gift-ready have been addressed, what are you looking for? What is there to get for busy, driven family and friends this holiday season? Since being busy and staying organized has become aspirational for those not born with these traits, totemic for those who are, there is now a vast range of high design, enjoyable, practical products even for the most stressed out people in your life. Here are some ideas:
Take your list to the Container Store. This organizational mecca offers tools to get every nook and cranny of one’s home or office poised for action. Chances are that browsing this store with your list in hand will provide many opportunities to check things off as you realize that they sell suitable containers for knitting, sewing, art, office, kitchen, closet, children, adults, etc. For an even more elaborate gift, the store also provides consulting services for closet design and other logistical design, an all-in-one gift for loved ones in the midst of redesigning their space.
You know how inspiration has the habit of hitting while you’re under the stream of the shower and by the time you towel off, it often has escaped? This waterproof notepad will ensure no more ideas get washed away and will save you those spare minutes spent looking for a notepad in the morning.
Multitaskers unite in support of this two-in-one product. These soft and fluffy slippers will keep your toes warm and your floors buffed, making you feel much better about shuffling around in a bathrobe all day on a Sunday.
Help your hyper-organized friend stay that way, with an awesome, fill-in calendar that doubles as a journal and a set of colored, felt-tip markers.
For your consummate traveler friends, Away makes super easy-to-pack, easy-to-roll hard cases in Pantone colors. No more guessing which black back is yours at the carousel, and, if you go with a carry aboard, it features a built-in battery charger so you can leave the one available outlet to the other passengers crowding around it.
Neat-freaks in your life need love, too. How about a clean up kit, featuring some of the most effective products on the market? You can throw in a few Mr. Clean Magic Erasers for scuff removal around the house; Tide sticks for on-the-spot spot clean up; Fancy, scented liquid soap from your favorite brand; and a screen-and-eyeglass cleaning device that works like a lint roller, picking up dirt and bacteria without the mess of a liquid.
For those whose deep sense of order deprives them of spontaneity and surprise, a subscription service is the gift tailored to their interest — cooking kits, wine, beer, clothes, accessories, cheese, chocolate, flowers, etc. They will start to look forward to their monthly surprise to break up the monotony.
If the type-A person in your life is a minimalist, and try as you may you can think of no object they would like to have, think about gifting an experience instead. You might renew a museum-lover’s membership or buy them the concert tickets they would love but can’t justify spending on. New parents would benefit from a trusted sitter so they can have a night off and very busy people would likely enjoy a spa day, so long as they can schedule it when convenient.
Then again, if your loved one is so busy that you can’t imagine them taking a whole day for themselves, how about bringing bits of the spa experience home for them? Gift an aromatherapy diffuser and the essential oils that promote relaxation. Include in the package an eye mask, a meditation cushion, and a relaxation guide, such as an app suggestion, a yoga video, or a recording of a guided meditation. You might inspire them to stop and smell the roses.
What is one of the secrets to the success of successful people? Being on time. Your successful person would love a new watch or even a gentle alarm clock — self-motivated people need not be jarred awake. Using an increasingly bright light or a soothing sound that crescendos in volume, these devices are all far more tolerable than the ringtone on your phone.
You have your list. You’ve checked it twice, thrice, four times. There are still some wonderfully demanding types you haven’t been able to cross off. The holidays are now upon you and you’re out of ideas. It’s time to finish the task.
Cash is the answer. Get the stragglers on the list a gift certificate to their favorite shop, or even better, get them a gift card from Mastercard or American Express, which they can use anywhere. Yes, a personal gift is much more, well, personal. But we all have someone in our life, a teenage kid, a spouse, or a friend, whose happiness is in making their own choices. As much as you might want to wrap your gift in a box, sometimes that chance to make a choice is the best holiday treats we can give.