Presents shouldn’t be a problem but they often are. A large proportion of people’s clutter is caused by unsuitable gifts, but this problem could easily be remedied with a little thought. There are eight awful errors that people make when buying presents: 

1. Buying What You Like.

Some people seem to forget the adage that a gift is meant to please the receiver, not the giver. Just because you like pottery figures or woven baskets, doesn’t mean that everyone else does. A relative of mine used to receive a box of Ferrero Rocher every Christmas for ten years from her brother. He loved that brand of chocolates, but unfortunately she did not! The moral: don’t assume that everyone has similar tastes to you.

2. Not Knowing What the Recipient Likes

A little bit of research can avoid potential problems with presents. What are the hobbies and interests of the recipient? Do they like painting, reading or golfing? Are they interested in history, trains or films? This can guide you towards buying a more appropriate present. The moral: if you don’t know then find out.

3. Ignorance of Another’s Lifestyle

Find out about their lifestyle; come on, it’s not rocket science. Don’t buy them chocolates if they’re on a diet, or wine if they’re teetotal. Don’t buy them marmalade if they never touch the stuff. Don’t buy them fussy cushions if they like a minimal look. The moral: don’t make assumptions about what someone else will like.

4. Not Finding Out What Someone Already Has

How many wallets, ties, socks, toiletries, or scarves can any one person wear? Neglecting to do a little bit of basic research can lead to someone being inundated with things they already possess. Even if you’ve established that someone likes painting, a book on painting techniques may not be ideal if they possess 12 already. The moral: it’s not enough to find out what someone likes, you have to find out what they already possess.

5. Resorting to Cliches

When shopping for presents, those who haven’t taken the trouble or have been unable to find out, may resort to cliches. You know the type of thing I mean. The sort of gifts that shops and department stores encourage people to buy at Christmas or on Mother’s Day.

But cliches are not usually the best gift for a person. Not all mothers like boy band CDs, cuddly teddies, pink heart cushions, or perfume. Not all fathers like novelty socks and ties, aftershave, joke books, or wooden puzzles in a box. The moral: putting a bit of thought into a gift is more likely to result in success.

6. Leaving it to the Last Minute

We’ve all done it. We’ve suddenly remembered that it’s someone’s birthday or we’ve missed someone off our Christmas list. So we rush to the shops thinking ‘I’ve got to buy something’. Stop. Those last minute decisions are always a disaster.

If you don’t have time to do any planning or research, then do the person a favour and give them money. Even a gift voucher can be unsuitable if it’s for a shop that they never ever shop in. You can’t go wrong with money, as everyone likes being able to choose something for themselves. The moral: if you run out of time then money is always welcome.

7. Never Buy Clothes

There are some things which a person should always choose for themselves in my opinion, because they are very individual. Clothes are a prime example. I have enough trouble buying them for myself, let alone for other people. I may like something on the rail, try it on and either it’s too loose or too tight, makes me look a peculiar shape, the colour doesn’t suit me, or it’s too young or too old for me. Typically out of ten items I take into a changing room, I will end up buying one.

Now what are the chances of a clothing gift being appropriate for me? Another example of a gift you should never buy for another is underwear, for reasons which I really shouldn’t have to explain! The moral: never buy clothes as a gift. I mean never.

8. Avoid Decisions on Decor

Furniture or furnishings is another category which is very personal. I like a modern, minimal look, my mother likes a traditional country look and my sister likes an eclectic look. We all have different tastes when it comes to décor.

If I’m given a traditional style of vase then it won’t look right in my house and I won’t display it. What my home looks like is very important to me, and no amount of politeness will make me display an item which stands out like a sore thumb. The moral: unless you know exactly what someone’s taste in decor is, don’t even try and get this one right.

The Final Flourish

There you have it, the eight awful errors which result in dreadful gifts. With so many pitfalls to fall into, you may be afraid to shop for presents at all. However when you get it right, it’s a wonderful feeling. So put in some effort and time to get it right.

But if you really can’t be bothered, then show them the colour of your money, as it beats an awful gift any day.