Ask them, I know, controversial isn’t it? To actually ask someone what they would like, but seriously do we not have enough crap in our lives to have to keep that gross, monstrous vase the mother-in-law gave you? It is easy enough, a simple ‘do you have some ideas that you would like for your birthday/Christmas?’ or ask if they have a wish list on Pinterest, Amazon, Crimson Tiger…… I would suggest, if you can, to also add a little something as a surprise, does not have to be anything major, but it is always nice to open something that you are not expecting, no matter how small.
Go shopping with them leading up to their birthday or Christmas. As you walk around, you will soon see what attracts them, or they may say something that will offer a prompt to you. If you have a particularly hard person to buy for it may well be far less stressful to book a shopping trip with them even if it is not what you would normally. It is so much easier to distinguish peoples tastes when you are walking around shops with them than trying to spy around their house, especially if they live with other people. This is issued with a warning, when you go shopping with someone around Christmas, do be careful what you pick up and look interested in as that could easily be something that they will gift you!
Listen carefully to what someone says. They may tell you about a problem they have, and that might lead you to find a gift that could solve that problem. Do stay clear of anything to help with a medical issue, when someone has a long-term condition as often the last thing they will want is something to do with their illness, they want to be reminded they are more than that illness. We often mention things that we like in casual conversation but so often we are not tuning into such comments, often too busy just chatting rather than listening.
Think about their hobbies: is there something, a tool, or a book, an expansion kit for something they enjoy? Avoid experience days, as so often these are left unused and unclaimed. Lovely thought but actually finding time to do them, or to remember to book them before they expire is tough. It is different if you are booking the actual event for someone like your teen who you live with and know that you are taking them there to do it.
Avoid buying something you want thinking that they will want it as well. I know you have coveted that scarf for ages but is it something they want? Is it suitable for their colouring? Their taste?
Unless you are that good a friend of theirs that you know them very, very well, do not buy them clothes! Getting their size wrong is a minefield, too big and you are saying that you think they are larger than they are. Too small, you can upset them just as much. There will be no winning and we all know how erratic clothes sizing is in shops, not even consistent within their own ranges.
So to recap:
Further ideas and blogs for you to explore:
To Gift List or Not to Gift ListTo Gift List Or Not To Gift List
How to Perfect your Gift Face
Gift Training My Husband