Giving gifts can be an extremely rewarding act. There is scientific confirmation of this. As Jessica Cassity writes for “When you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver, according to research from Emory University.” You should take time to be thoughtful and mindful about gift giving and enjoy the physiological response in your brain’s pleasure center. 

But do you find yourself running out of ideas for gifts for friends and family? If you are like me, you have given gifts to the same folks year after year. There are several ways to breathe new life into gift giving. Here are just a few suggestions:

1. Purchase Gifts When You Travel

Even if you only take one trip per year you can purchase interesting gifts while on vacation. The gifts will be considered interesting because you bought them out of town and carry a story with them. You can include a nice card about the shop you purchased the gift in and why it spoke to you.

2. Give Theme-based Gifts

Create a theme for the year, either for birthdays or the holiday season. Your theme could be favorite college, favorite athletic team, movies, music, framed family picture, art; the choices are limitless. Creating a theme for the year allows for a couple of opportunities: you can purchase gifts early and you can purchase them all at once. How cool would it be to be done shopping for the year in one shopping trip?

3. Listen, Listen, Listen

All year long folks talk about what they want. Make a running list of other people’s wish lists. This will allow you to buy them something they expressed a need or want for. Again, include a personal note.

4. Give Living Gifts

Plants are a great idea. Make them personal by purchasing a nice pot or by decorating one yourself. Take clippings from your garden to make your gift or visit a local nursery or home improvement store. This is another opportunity to write a note. Include interesting facts about the plant and the process you went through to create it. People will be impressed by you—and so will your budget.

5. Give Practical Gifts

Don’t be afraid to give a practical gift. Of course, know your receiver, but know also that most people appreciate a bit of relief to their budget especially around the holidays. Purchase grocery store gift cards, or if you notice something in someone’s home that needs replacing, get it for them. I would love for someone to give me a House Cleaning coupon! I always appreciate practical gifts, and I am sure some people on your list will too.

6. Give Books

What are the people in your life interested in? Give a book, book on tape, eBook, or DVD with information about their favorite subject. Your gift list might include someone interested in basketball, or yoga, or wine, or basket weaving. They will appreciate that you recognized and took an interest in their hobby or interest.

7. Give the Gift of Time

This is a gift you might want to reserve for only certain people on your list. If you love to spend time with everyone on your list, then create several lists and rotate years. Odd years could be for female friends and family and even years for males, or something like that. Write a beautiful card that includes an invitation to join you for a manicure, pedicure, spa time, golf, movie, or a meal at a restaurant. Take advantage of sites like Groupon or Living Social to get a great deal.

Take delight in shopping! Gift giving is fun and healthy for the giver and the receiver. It is a way to share a part of you with another person. Be creative and innovative, and your gifts will always be memorable. 


Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

About the Author

Tanynya Hekymara is a lifestyle and change coach, diversity consultant, speaker, and workshop facilitator, as well as an instructor in yoga, meditation, mindfulness and wellness techniques. Connect with Tanynya on LinkedIn or Twitter.