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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

How To Buy The Perfect Birthday Present

2nd July 2021

We all have that one person in life that we struggle to buy gifts for. Their birthday is looming and you are starting to ask that familiar question: "What on earth can I buy for X's birthday present this year?"

Some people are extremely easy to buy birthday presents for, particularly your friends. You might share an interest, play a sport together or like the same things. But how do you buy the perfect present for the most difficult person?

5 Tips To Buy The Perfect Birthday Present

  1. The Useful Gift

We generally steer clear of these types of gifts because we find them boring. But, for the recipient, finding out something that they need or finding a solution to a problem they are experiencing, is a really valuable gift. The trick here is to remember who you are buying for. It isn't about what you like, it's all about the recipient. And, there is no harm in asking someone what they would particularly like - it's actually a win-win situation, as you get a solution to your annual 'I don't know what to get' dilemma and the recipient gets exactly what they want.

But what exactly is a useful gift? It will be very different things to different types of people. When I passed my driving test, one of my college friends bought me a kit of car cleaning things for my next birthday. It sounds really boring, but it was a really useful gift at the time as I was a student and things like care washes were far too extravagant, so the only way to keep my car clean was to get outside with a bucket of water and a chamois and do it myself.

One year I remember my Dad asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I had just bought my first house, I had no disposable income and I had just adopted my first rescue cat - I needed a vacuum cleaner. Again, it sounds a really boring present, but I couldn't afford to buy one myself and it made such a difference for me.

2. The Meaningful Gift

Showing that you really know the recipient is what a meaningful gift is all about. You can get on their level. You know how they feel about different topics. You know what pushes their buttons to spark different emotional responses.

An example of a meaningful gift I received for my birthday from a close friend when I was going through the divorce for my first marriage comprised two books. If you know me, you will know that I just love books, so that was a huge tick straight away. But, the topics were so poignant for me at that particular point in my life (and I hadn't heard of either of the books at the time). One was The Secret - at the time it helped me to think more positively during a very difficult period in my life. Years later, it actually changed my life - it randomly came up in a conversation one day and I thought I'll re-read it and as a result, I started to keep a daily gratitude journal and I think that each day, taking time out to think about all the blessings you have changes your mindset. It made me more positive and it calmed me down at a time I was going through a period of depression, I was angry and had a very fiery temper. Now, I'm the complete opposite!

The second book was Eat. Pray. Love. (several years before the film was produced). Right at the start of the book Elizabeth Gilbert describes the time she realised her marriage was over. As I read those first few pages, I was dumbfounded, that was how I was feeling (the situation was totally different, but the feelings were the same). I felt like I wasn't alone, that someone else actually understood what I was going through. If you know the book and/or the film, you'll know that it's a true story about realization, taking action, trusting and resilient. My dear friend knew me, understood my situation and knew what I needed. Meaningful gifts that I still treasure to this day.

3. The Connection Gift

This is a gift which reflects the relationship that you share with the recipient. It is also a meaningful gift because it is something you share together. It could be an item relating to that connection or it could be something you make.

An example of a connection gift: When I was in college one of my friends was older and already driving, so she used to pick me up and take me to/from college when our timetables synced. She drove an iconic VW Beetle. It was her pride and joy. For her birthday, I found a beautiful picture of a VW Beetle and had it framed for her.

Alternatively, you could get prints of the photos you have of yourself and the recipient and create a montage, a timeline of your relationship or simply choose your favourite, get it framed and add a message inside the frame along the lines of 'my favourite memory with you'.

4. The Experience Gift

This type of gift can be interpreted in all kinds of ways. Maybe you'll gift them an experience you know they will enjoy or maybe you can create your own experience which you can enjoy together. Or, for an elderly person, who you perhaps can't see in person at the moment, just giving up your time to have a conversation via video call or on the phone. Experience gifts are great because they create memories for the recipient to cherish.

5. The Personalised Gift

Who doesn't like seeing their own name? A quick story here: The British Business Group in Abu Dhabi creates a quarterly magazine which features photos of its members at events during the previous three months, at the back. When the members get the newest magazine, they flick straight to the back to see if they are in any of the photos, looking to see themselves.

There is a certain comfort in having something with your name on it. It belongs to you. Children particularly love things with their names on. I remember looking in souvenir shops when I was on holiday as a child at all of the knick knacks that were personalised just to see if they had anything with my name on it and if it was spelled the same way.

Gifting a present with a special photo; an item with a name on it; or, something which relates to the recipient - perhaps a hobby or particular phase / word they use; AND in their favourite colours or to match their home decor; emphasizes the effort you have gone to in order to have their gift made to order, especially for them. Something which is totally unique.

At Gateway Art Sales we have just introduced a selection of personalised gifts and more will be added in the coming weeks and months. These are each carefully and lovingly created, especially for you. This is a beautiful way of gifting something which the recipient can treasure and have as a keepsake.

Alternatively, whilst we have a selection of ready-made pom pom-filled shapes, you can also choose to have them filled with your choice of colours. What a lovely way to give a new baby gift, by giving the new parents a beautiful shape in colours to match their nursery. Or gifting someone a poignant shape filled with pom pom balls in their favourite colours. The perfect birthday gift, made to order, especially for them. How special!

Here are some examples of our personalised gifts, home decor and seasonal decorations.

Do let me know how you choose birthday presents in the comments below.

In the meantime, Happy Gifting!

Written by Jenny Hunt

Founding Partner & CEO, Gateway Art Sales LLC & FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women In The Middle East

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