The gift of (no) returns

With a culture of returning purchases whether for yourself or others, its become almost acceptable for people to hand over a Christmas present with the words “don’t worry if you don’t like it, you can always take it back and swap it”. I find this so upsetting as it takes the love and joy out of giving. That fear of disappointment has been swapped for a cop out accompanied by an apology. Do we REALLY have such little faith in our ability to choose something wonderful for a friend or loved one that we have to have a back-up plan?

Care – full

There are so many ways that a gift can be accepted with a smile that isn’t fake. Whatever you buy (or make) as a gift, if you show care in the way you package it- half your job is done! There’s no need to spend a lot of money on glitzy, non-recyclable paper with large bows and ribbons. Simple brown paper tied up with string and a sprig of nature will look just as effective as you show a little creativity.

If you don’t know the person well enough – buy something edible. Personally I’d rather have a bottle of Tesco finest olive oil than a bottle of perfume that I’ve never worn before and doesn’t necessarily suit my skin. Perfume really is too personal a present to buy unless you’re buying someone’s favourite.

Make a wish

In the weeks before Christmas, it’s tradition for children to write to Santa Claus and let him know what you might want to receive in your stocking. Why don’t we let adults do that too? During my many years in retail it was a pleasure to help customers find the right clothing and accessories for themselves, so when it came to Christmas we asked our regulars to complete a Wish List which would be just a few ideas to help their loved ones choose a gift. There was still the element of surprise but just narrowed down a bit to avoid getting the wrong size or something they already had.

Keep to a budget

Whether buying for friends or family, we all know Christmas is an expensive time of year so agree to stick to a certain amount. It could be £10 or £500 depending on who you’re buying for and your budget. This certainly avoids the embarrassment of you buying a token box of chocolate biscuits only to find they’ve splashed out of jewellery for you!

Armed with information

Never go shopping without a list. Have you ever been to the supermarket without your list only to return with bags of items you already have in the cupboard but nothing to actually eat for dinner. Going Christmas shopping without a list of who you’re buying for plus a few ideas of what you might be looking for will result in a lot of aimless shopping and not necessarily any results.

Think independent

With the large stores taking the lion’s share of profits most of the year, wouldn’t it be lovely to know you’re supporting independent businesses to carry on trading for another year? Independents provide great personable knowledge in their product area and often source those unique, special things that aren’t readily available from large chains and department stores and make extra special gifts.

Think outside the (gift) box

It might be worth considering a gift which can’t be wrapped. An experience or a course for mind/body self-improvement. Maybe a gym membership or personal coaching would be the ideal present? I’ve wanted to do a bread- making course for some years now, so if someone should gift that to me I’d be very happy (hint hint). I have clients who have been gifted a personal styling session with me so their 2020 is going to start in such a positive way!

The greatest and most valuable gift of all is time. If you take that bit of extra time to REALLY consider what someone wants for Christmas, then your gift won’t need to be returned and you can spend more time together over the festive period.

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