How To Give Non-Material Gifts That Your Friends & Family Actually Want

With holiday specials and gift set releases happening earlier every year (Seriously, how is Christmas in July a thing?), we could all use a reminder about gift-giving. 

When it comes to giving presents, don’t ask any questions you don’t want to hear the f*cking answers to.

We’ve all been there: You’re chilling with a friend or loved one when you oh-so-casually ask, “What would you like for [insert gift-giving occasion here?]” They start thinking, and you get excited. Suddenly, they say something that you totally didn’t expect.

Before you start panicking, though, stop and breathe. Remember that gift-giving is not about you.

You should gift presents that the receiver wants but may never buy for themselves. Otherwise, go for something that your friend doesn’t even know exists but would actually love. To surprise someone, you have to pay attention and notice what the gift recipient cares about. 

Since figuring out what presents to give is hard, though, most of us just ask our friends what they want. The problem is that sometimes we don’t like what we hear. Instead, we buy our loved ones something that we think they will like and unintentionally end up giving them a gift that they didn’t want in the first place.

This year, give yourself permission to stop giving crummy gifts. 

Instead of buying someone more useless items this holiday season, consider one of these gestures:

Donate to a charity they care about. Whether it’s a well-known cause like Doctors Without Borders or  a small local animal shelter, find a donation to a charity that aligns with your loved one’s values is the perfect gift. Your friend or family member will absolutely appreciate your generosity.

Take them out for dinner… and put your phone away. Since we rarely give our friends our undivided attention these days, suggest dinner and phone-free quality time this holiday season. Your loved one will appreciate your time and attention (not to mention the free food).

Volunteer together. Nowadays, every city has a soup kitchen or food bank. As depressing as that knowledge sounds, you can go visit one of those places and help others together this holiday season instead of arguing over the best way to stack leftovers.

Give them an experience voucher. There’s a company for every service, from paragliding to afternoon tea. Buy your friend or family member a gift card for a pleasant adventure and help your local economy at the same time. After all, your mother may not usually pay for a manicure, let alone an eco-friendly one, but she may very well enjoy a “nail day” as a special treat.

Don’t like any of these suggestions? Well, then just listen to your relatives and give them what they actually ask for. In fact, I hear that giving gifts your friends actually want makes for a surprisingly stress-free holiday seasons.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash


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