It's the season of giving, but what if you're just plain horrible at gift giving? I've heard so many people complain about how difficult it is for them to find gifts for people and how much they struggle while gift shopping. Although I do enjoy receiving gift cards (they're so practical!) they just feel so impersonal to give. I hate giving away gift cards, even though I love their practicality, since it's just a lot more exciting to open a gift and see something more than a piece of plastic. I've been told that I'm a pretty decent gift giver, so hopefully my advice comes in handy. If you're not the best at gift giving, fear not, because I have a guide to how to gift shop like a pro for you to nail this holiday season.

Step One: Figuring Out What They Want

Think of this like Clue, like you're being a detective, trying to look for the little clues that you can use to figure out what to get someone for the holidays. Pay attention to the little things that they might mention and/or try and recall things that they have said in the past. This is definitely a lot easier if you're observant, which I am, plus I can remember a lot of little details, like something that someone might have mentioned in that past about liking. For example, I got a velvet skirt for my sister, because I remember shopping with her one time and her telling me about how much she loves anything velvet. Sometimes you just need to think about a conversation that you might have had quite a long time ago in order to figure out a perfect gift. It's all about a great memory and staying observant. If you can't remember anything in particular, try to listen to what they say for the next few days, trying to observe what they say or what they do. Maybe you notice that your friend's wallet is getting a bit beaten up - easy fix, get her a new one!

If you want a personalized gift that's more than just what's on the gift guides, you need to put in the effort to sleuth out what they might enjoy. Although the basic gift guides are helpful, the best gifts are the thoughtful ones. I wish that I could give you more help towards figuring out the perfect personalized gift, except that's the thing about them, they're personalized, and it's a little bit different depending on each person. Look for these cues:
What do they like to do?
What do they do often?
Is there something that they use often and could be replaced?
What have they been talking about lately?
What do they wear often? 
What's in their daily routine? 

Can't Figure Out What They Want? 

Go for something basic and useful!

My go-to gift for people that I'm stumped on is usually a mug. They are so useful and everyone can enjoy them, since they're so simple. I'll go for a decorative mug, because there are some amazing ones out there (Anthropologie has a ton and Target does as well) that are the kinds of things that people get excited about when they first open the gift, but they can also find great use in a mug. The great thing about them is that they're pretty inexpensive and you can always fill up the mug with various things that best cater to the person, or just hot chocolate mix or maybe some candy. Pick out a gift that someone can definitely use. Another idea for something basic and useful might be pajamas (assuming that you know their size) or a blanket. Look for things that can be special in the sense that they can be a bit more decorative and unique, but can also be very simple and useful at the same time. Everyone loves blankets, they're super cozy, so where could you go wrong with one? Although it's a very simple gift idea, you can get a lot of different ones out there, with different patterns and designs as well as different material.

Go for something quirky!

I love getting quirky gifts, they're usually things that are absolutely adorable and/or funny that I absolutely do not need. These are the kinds of things that I always see in stores and think, "That's cute", but I never purchase, because I'm practical and I know that I wouldn't actually have any use for these things. Which is why they make the perfect gifts. These are the kinds of things that we all secretly want, but can never bring ourselves to buy for ourselves. Make someone smile with something that might make them laugh, something that's cute and unique!

Last resort: Gift cards, but with a wow-factor!

I call gift cards the last resort, but if you're planning on giving a gift card, I highly suggest that you jazz it up a little bit. Throw in a little present along with the gift card, maybe something cute from the Target dollar section or maybe some edible cookie dough (it exists and it's so good, I promise), something that will give your gift card a bit more of a wow-factor. Gift cards are practical and I enjoy receiving them, but it's nice to have something as an added bonus, that is in a way a little reminder that you put some thought into it. In addition, you can jazz up a gift card by bringing along a classy card. I love the ones at Paper Source or at Anthropologie, but you can also find some funny ones at Urban Outfitters. I like to make my own cards for an extra wow-factor, (here's a super easy DIY card for the holidays that I highly recommend making) but if that's not your thing, I made some printable holiday cards last year that I love and I think others might love too. All you have to do is get some nice cardstock and print them out. (here's a link to the post) The cards are below and are downloadable!


Step Two: Purchasing the Gift

Cash Back Sites

Gift shopping is fun, but why would you overpay for something when you can get it cheaper? There are tons of cash back websites, such as Ebates and Fat Wallet, these are sites where all you have to do is click on their link to the store's site before making your purchase and you can get cash back. (not sponsored by either of these sites, just plain appreciation for cash back sites) This generally ranges up to 10%, which is basically kind of like a 10% off coupon! Although some of these cash back sites seem like nothing, I mean, 3% doesn't seem like a lot, but it all adds up! Since you'll be doing a lot of spending during the holiday season, you can save a ton by purchasing through these cash back websites. Even if you spend just $100 (which you can easily do with the amount of gifts you need to buy this holiday season), you already get $3 back. That's enough for a tall coffee (if you don't get the fancy stuff) or 3 things at the dollar store - a little, but it can still make a difference.


While you're out shopping for gifts, you can make money by just walking into the store! I downloaded this app, Shopstyle (ps this isn't sponsored by them, I SWEAR) and you can earn points through the app by just walking into participating stores. Turn on your bluetooth and walk in to earn points. As you earn points, you can earn giftcards to participating stores, you pick the gift card. You can also earn more points by scanning specific things in the store or by linking the app to your credit card, earning points from select stores as you make purchases from them. So far, I've earned about 1800 points, which is about enough for a $10 gift card. Although you need to earn a lot of points in order to receive a reward, it's worth it, considering that all you need to do is walk into a store to earn!

Student discounts

Still a student? You can get student discounts at tons of stores! I have an account at Unidays, which is a website that offers student discounts to lots of stores, including Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Express, For Love and Lemons, and more. I usually check before making purchases to see if it offers a student discount, which a lot of stores do. Some places need an in-store visit in order to get a student discount, which is why sites like Unidays are helpful for online shopping. (Not sponsored by Unidays, just appreciation) In stores, sometimes you have to ask them about a student discount, because they don't always mention it. This website and this website have long lists of stores that have student discounts, for your convenience.

But don't forget, it's the thought that counts! Put in effort into making this gift fantastic and you'll be gifting like a pro in no time. Sometimes it takes a little time to figure out what would be the perfect gift for someone, but usually, it's worth it. Happy gifting and happy holidays!

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