When I was 15, I went shopping with my Dad to a very cool, hipster-before-hipsters shop in Belfast called Cult. While I tried (and failed) to convince him to pay for clothes that I was way too young to wear, I had exclaimed how much I loved the music that was playing. It was a DJ mash-up of everything from Destiny’s Child to Iggy Pop and I just loved it. 

About 6 months later, under the Christmas tree was a CD (remember those?) called 2manyDJs. It turns out, that unbeknownst to me at the time, my Dad had gone back to the shop a few days later and asked the staff what the music could have been. He then bought the CD and stashed it for Christmas. My Dad is the best at buying thoughtful gifts.

More recently, I have befriended my yoga teacher. She is an incredibly kind and thoughtful soul. We’ve only really been friends a matter of months. Which makes it all the more lovely that she not only remembered my birthday but handed me a gift bag containing my favourite biscuits (dark chocolate gingers, of course), some decaf tea (of the brand that I drink) and bamboo socks with a little note to ‘put my feet up’. I was blown away by how sweet and thoughtful this gift was. 

I hate to admit it, but I don’t think I have historically fallen into the thoughtful gifter category. I tend to remember a few weeks before. Think “I really must get that sorted this week”. Guaranteed… I’ll then forget about it until two days before. I’ll panic-buy something that I *think* they’ll like, pick up a card in ASDA and hope that if I post it, it will arrive on time. 

This really was a trait about myself that I was keen to change, so last year, I implemented some tactics. And here are the three simple things I did to make the gift buying process not only easier, but much more thoughtful. 

  • I have 3 week reminders set up on my calendar for upcoming birthdays or important dates. If I don’t have time to act on it when I get the reminder, I set it again for a few days later or when I know I’ll have time.
  • I have a little note on my phone with a list of my nearest and dearest. If at any stage, they mention something that’s their ‘favourite’ or they would like to do/try/buy, I try my best to jot that down under their name so I’ve got a little running list of ideas.
  • If I’m browsing online and I see something that I know would make the ideal gift, I pin it to a secret Pinterest board I have called ‘Gift Ideas’ – unique labelling, I know. I then pop the name of the person I’m thinking of in the description box. This came in very handy at Christmas when I did a lot of online shopping for a lot of gifts.

These tips worked for me when my brother told me that his favourite Zippo lighter was confiscated on a trip to Vietnam (don’t ask), so for his 30th I bought him a Zippo with his much loved Beatles lyrics etched on the side. They also worked when my Mum mentioned last year that she had none of our wedding photos framed. For Christmas, I bought a big gallery frame that would suit her decor and filled it with all the best wedding pictures of our family. 

All thanks to the handy little notes in my phone. 

I honestly wish I was one of those people who just naturally remembered everyone and could conjure up the perfect gift with zero effort, but for me and the way my brain works… That’s just never going to happen. So lists and notes it is. 

Do you have excellent gift buying skills? If so, what are your trade secrets?
Who is the most thoughtful gift buyer you know?