We all know that special someone whom we love to receive a gift from because they know us so well and have a knack for picking out just the right gift. For me, it was my mom – the ultimate hostess and consummate gift giver – who turned the giving of a present into an art form. This lovely woman had an innate ability to pick out a perfect present for everyone in her life, from the mailman to her best friend, always matching the individual’s taste and preferences while reflecting their distinct personality.

It Really Is The Thought That Counts

Looking back now, I recognize the secret to my mom’s gift-giving panache; she studied people and took the time to observe and note what set that person apart. She asked people questions, and she watched and listened. When it came time to present a seasonal offering, my mom was ready because she had invested the time and energy in their relational connection.

Although my mother wasn’t a follower of Christ, her generous and hospitable nature was very much a reflection of God’s love. My mother modeled to me how intentionality is the best gift I can offer someone. Overspending or falling into the debt trap isn’t necessary to show love and thankfulness, but a thoughtful gift from the heart speaks volumes.

So how can you pick a great gift for someone in your life? Don’t leave it to the last minute and panic; you’ll inevitably put yourself into the position of buying whatever is left on the shelf regardless of the cost. Instead, take the time to brainstorm and choose a considerate and purposeful present they will never forget.

For Your Special Someone

Think about what the person you care about the most is interested in. What are they passionate about? Where do they spend their time, talent and energy? Are they a sports enthusiast, a video game junkie or the fancy type whose idea of fun is a pedicure, shopping and a trendy restaurant? Consider what they watch, listen to and follow. Where do they volunteer, work or hang out?

If you are just getting to know someone, this rule still applies. Ask good questions and take your cues from their answers. Good gift givers are simply good listeners.

One of my husband’s favorite gifts was our family offering to him last year because it was both creative and uniquely personal. Tim loves to garden. It is more than an outlet for him; it’s a way he experiences God and processes life. But after a busy and painful season, our garden had fallen into neglect. So, the kids and I secretly replanted our plot in the community garden. We bought new plants for the beds, laid down fresh soil and mulch, and the girls painted ceramic garden trolls, butterflies and a plaque that said “Daddy’s Garden.” I got all three kids involved, although my teenage son and I did the heavy lifting.

On the day we presented him with our gift, we blindfolded daddy and led him into the garden. There, we set up a little picnic with music playing and his favorite treats. When the blindfold came off, tears poured down my husband’s face. Our gift wasn’t super-expensive, but it did take some sweat equity, coordination and planning. I’m positive that no daddy was ever more surprised, or more content.

For The Littles

These days, kids get so many trinkets and gifts that are played with for a few weeks and then left to collect dust. Because of this, it’s almost a waste of money to buy one more plastic item unless you are willing to play the game with them.

So, before you give another “thing,” ask yourself “How they will experience it?” Will you get on your knees and dress the Barbies or build the Lego spaceship with them? Try reading the books for your kids before you buy them. Or, consider investing in experiences to connect with the little people in your life.

This year, we purchased a Disneyland pass for our youngest daughter and found that stealing away to the happiest place on earth was truly a treat we all cherished. My oldest son loves to snowboard, so helping him to plan a trip each year with his friends is a gift he receives tremendous joy from. Maybe it’s a concert ticket with a corresponding CD, a plush animal holding a water park ticket, ice skates with lessons, or tickets to a special sports event. Try to incorporate your time into your gifts; remember, the gift of relationship blesses both the giver and the recipient.

For Mom And Dad

Parents could generally care less about another tie or sweater; mostly, they just want to be with you. So, plan a trip to their favorite diner and share a Sudoku puzzle over breakfast. Find a baseball game to take your dad to or plan a road trip with mom. Invest in a plane ticket home and set aside some time to be with the ones you love. Bake cookies with your mom or take her bowling; whatever she is interested in will be better with you at her side.

Find simple ways to communicate love to your parents that show how much you value being with them. Expensive gifts are put on the shelf, but an experience with your parent is a memory that lasts forever.

Giving the perfect gift is simply about caring enough to be attentive to the person you are giving to. What great gift ideas have you come up with for this year?

You may also be interested in What God Wants Us To Focus On During The Holiday Season

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