Do you often see the forced smiles on your children’s faces when they open your gifts? Do you find out later on from your spouse that the kitchen playset that you bought is no longer appropriate for your twelve-year-old daughter? Or that the costume you gave son is two sizes too small? If this situation sounds all too familiar to you, keep on reading.
Dads don’t mean to be bad gift-givers, but sometimes they just are, and not just to their own family members either. It doesn’t mean you’re less of a partner or a father, but of course, all of us want the best for the people we love.
So, if you have a track record of buying terrible presents, here are some great tips for you:
1. Buy your kids something to remember you by
Your kids may not love the books you got them last Christmas or the out-of-trend shirts you gave them for their birthday, but you can repair your reputation by giving them something to remember you; something that will remind them of how much you love them.
Son or daughter jewelry items from dad are always a great option. They can wear it everywhere and always be reminded of you, even when you are long gone. And when they grow up, they can keep the gift as a precious memento to remind them of their best memories with you.
2. Stop buying too-practical gifts
Sure, everyone needs a bottle of body wash or a new pair of socks every once in a while, but do they really want to receive it as a gift? Unless they specifically ask for something practical, try to stray from giving your loved ones a too-practical gift, even if it seems like the safest option. It may appear as if you haven’t put much thought into the gift or don’t know them well enough to choose a more elaborate one.
3. Pay attention
Paying attention is the only way you will know what your kids and spouse really want. The same goes for your friends, colleagues, bosses, and other people in your life. Ask yourself questions like: what kind of lifestyle do they lead? What are their interests and hobbies? What kind of style do they wear? And so on.
Sometimes, the answers are simple, especially when it comes to your own family. If your child is obsessed with Legos, then the obvious answer is more Legos. But what about the people you don’t know that deeply? The best solution is to just observe and be mindful of their lifestyles. If your co-worker likes to lift weights, a great gift may be a pair of weightlifting gloves. If your friend is always talking about their painting hobby, perhaps you could give them a new set of brushes. Pay attention to what they talk about, what they do, or better yet, gather information during normal conversations by asking subtle questions.
4. Refrain from asking what they want
It can be tempting to just ask people for what they want, especially when it comes to your children and spouse. However, most people are uncomfortable with asking for exactly what they want, and you would likely get the answer “I don’t want anything” or “Any gift is fine.”
And with these types of answers, you have little to no clue what to get your loved ones. Hence, it may be better off to just not ask. Moreover, your spouse, in particular, may appreciate it more if you put more effort into thinking about their gift instead of just outright asking for what they want. Furthermore, opening surprise gifts are definitely more exciting than when you already know what’s in the box.
You could ask probing questions to get a feel of what they would like. For example, ask your child what kind of toys the kids their age like nowadays (and make it as subtle as possible). With your spouse, try engaging them in a seemingly random conversation about their interest or hobbies and listen for things that they might like. If you can, you can also snoop around their wishlists on online shopping sites, and maybe perhaps make an “off-hand” comment about that particular item to see their reaction (if they seem excited about it, then it will likely make for a great gift).
Giving great gifts is a difficult thing to master, especially if you are a bad gift-giver from the get-go. However, you don’t have to be stuck being the notorious bad gift-giver during birthdays, holidays, or company parties. With these simple tips, you can develop a better sense of what people might like, and thus be able to give gifts that you can be confident that people will love.