Giving a gift to someone you know and love is hard enough, but sometimes there are occasions when you may feel obliged to give a gift to someone you barely know at all. Perhaps you are meeting your partner’s family for the first time on their mother’s birthday, or maybe you’ve made a new friend at work and the holidays are just around the corner. Whatever your situation is, there is no need to panic. Finding the perfect gift for someone you hardly know is not the goal. Instead, you should aim to give them something they’ll appreciate without burdening them with unwanted junk or seeming over-familiar with a gift that’s a little too extravagant. Here’s how to strike a balance and figure out a gift that is just right.
Ask a Mutual Friend
If you and your new acquaintance have any mutual contacts, speak to these people about what gift would be best. Your partner most likely knows their mother well enough to make some suggestions or your other colleagues could share what they know about the new recruit. You want to learn more about this person without delving too deep into their personal life, as this is a bad way to make a good impression.
Don’t Assume Universal Appeal
Not everyone has the same tastes and assuming that something is universally loved could make your gift less appealing. Before you simply assume that the recipient will love fruit-filled chocolate because you do, think about the possibility that they once told you their actual preferences. You may love scented candles, but the recipient might have allergies that make any candle a poor gift choice. Of course, you aren’t expected to know their exact preferences in detail but try to give something that reflects the small amount of information you do have about them rather than jumping to conclusions.
Give Something Practical
A great way to avoid falling into the trap of assuming universal appeal is to give something extremely practical. Gifts that a person will actually use are far more appreciated. Do you know that they cycle to work? Give them a miniature puncture-repair kit. Did they mention having trouble getting to sleep because of noisy neighbors? Give them some highly rated earplugs. The more you think that they will actually use the gift, the better.
Send Them a Consumable Selection
It is relatively easy to find out what snacks a person likes most. This could come up in casual conversation or be passed on by a mutual friend. Similarly, many people like luxury toiletries. If you know the recipient likes sugary treats or scented soaps, visit Awesome Hamper Company and choose a hamper to suit their tastes. One of the best aspects of giving people food and toiletries as gifts is the fact that they are perishable and therefore not a burden for long if the recipient doesn’t appreciate them. They will either love the items or give them to someone else. They can eat the food and use the toiletries without cluttering up their living space.
Find Something Unusual
A strange puzzle from a vintage shop or a mysterious-looking book could be a great gift without any need to know what the recipient’s preferences are. Unusual gifts don’t need to be inherently practical since they function as conversation starters when they are opened.
A Small Gesture Could Be Enough
Simply paying for lunch or giving them a lift home could be enough to show that you want to acknowledge the person without giving them a traditional gift. Offer to help them put up shelves or look after their plants while they’re away. These little gestures can mean more than objects.
Money is Always Appreciated
It might feel impersonal to give someone money, but the fact that you don’t know them well yet means you can’t realistically come up with truly thoughtful gifts. It would be strange and perhaps even off-putting if you give a new acquaintance something they’ve always wanted. Money shows that you want to give a gift while allowing the recipient to make a decision about how it’s spent. It is also better than giving a gift card since you may not know yet where the recipient likes to shop, so a gift card to somewhere they never visit could be more of a hassle than a present.
A Gift for Their Pet
Of course, not everyone will have a pet, but even new friends reach this topic of conversation sooner rather than later so you can easily find out if they have one without prying too much. Learn the basics such as what kind of animal it is and how it behaves. For example, if your new friend tells you they have a dog that prefers to sleep rather than to play, consider giving a soft dog blanket rather than a squeaky toy. This is a thoughtful gesture without overstepping or becoming familiar too early.
Ask What They Want
If the occasion truly calls for it and you have no other way of finding out, asking the new friend what they want directly is an option. If their birthday is coming up, let them know that you would like to give them a gift and ask what they would appreciate most. Listen to their response, even if they say they don’t want anything.
Giving gifts is fraught with complications. The relationship between the giver and the recipient dictates what gifts would be appropriate, but knowing where those lines are and still making a positive impression can be hard. The first step is to talk to people who know the person better and check if they have any good ideas. If not, solve a problem by giving a practical gift rather than assuming that they have the same preferences as you. A small gesture, money, or something peculiar could also help to make a good impression. If all else fails, simply ask the person themselves. Remember that gifts are about showing appreciation for each other, and expense or extravagance don’t necessarily translate into good gifts.
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