UNITED STATES—What makes the perfect gift? Last week we chatted about the notion of overspending for Christmas, but this week I really want to turn the focus to the notion on what one should or should NOT do when it comes to purchasing gifts. This goes for newborns, toddlers, kids, tweens, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults and the elderly. Let me be crystal clear, I love purchasing gifts for kids because the opportunities of what you can buy are endless: clothing, toys, electronics, food, etc. I think when kids are between the ages of 6 and 9 it is SO EASY to purchase the perfect Christmas gift.

I think I have the biggest difficulty purchasing gifts for my teenage nieces. Why? They have an eclectic taste when it comes to clothing, so I’m no fashion genius so I stay away from that realm. They are not too big on electronics, and I’d rather not even attempt the idea of purchasing any type of shoes. So I’m left in a bind: either I give them money or I give them a gift card. Let me be honest I hate both of those as options. A gift card is almost a way of saying I really didn’t want to take the time to find the perfect gift for you, while cash is also saying the same thing in so many words without actually saying it.

Ugh, just listening to myself I sound like a major hypocrite. Why? I always tell people to get me money cause I can always use it and then they don’t have to worry about me holding onto an item that I never plan or have no desire to actually use. For newborns and toddlers it’s all about purchasing clothing or baby toys that help the child to start to develop learning skills. So those are always the easiest for me to buy for. Tweens are a bit like teens, but I think it’s possible to reach common ground because they will at least tell you what they want and if the budget can afford it, why not go for it.

Young adults tend to crave money because they need it the most especially, if they are struggling to make ends meet or are in college and need a few extra bucks to get by. Now those middle-aged adults, they are the most stressful and difficult for me. Each year I find myself tearing out my hair to find the perfect gift for my mother and father. My dad is so much easier because it’s either cologne, electronics, movies, shoes or any type of clothing in most cases he is ok with.

My mother, she likes jewelry, but the very expensive kind and when it comes to purses, she is always a fan, but she is extremely picky about things. So what does that mean? It’s best to allow her to select the item, but her actually buying it is a better thing. There is something about people buying her the item that she is never that enthused about, and I don’t get it. Yeah, it’s quite complicated to say the least, which is something I actually hate. She tends to be a fan of money as well, so I’m starting to come to the conclusion that money tends to make all people happy; they can buy what they want and you don’t have to worry about the headache of trying to find the perfect gift so to speak.

When it comes to my grandparents, they seem to just be enthused by the thought of having family in their presence. They don’t care so much about receiving something. Most of the time it tends to be an item for the household that they request the most. Rather it’s a toaster, a microwave, coffee maker, espresso machine, iron, a knife set; the house tends to win in the end. Not always a fan of that because it’s not a personal gift it’s something for the household, and may or may not benefit all parties involved. The best advice I can give when it comes to gift giving is to listen to people when they share thoughts of items on their list. It’s the biggest hint to what you should do and what you should NOT do!