Social Gift-Giving 101: How to Wow your Friends with the Perfect Holiday Gift

With the holiday season underway, the cold days of winter are starting to feel a little more festive! Friend groups looking to get in the spirit will find plenty of ways to have some holiday fun in the coming weeks. This could mean throwing a holiday party, getting together to bake cookies and drink hot cocoa, or organizing a group volunteer project. For a lot of groups, it means planning a Secret Santa exchange. That’s where things can get tricky.

Choosing a gift for a friend can be stressful. Whether it’s part of a Secret Santa exchange, or you’re simply trying to make a nice gesture, you may find yourself puzzling over the perfect gift. Luckily, there are a few steps you can follow to make the whole process a lot less stressful, and a lot more fun!

1. Use what you Know: As you choose your gift, always be sure to keep the recipient in mind. It’s a good idea for your gift to reflect your friend’s hobbies, interests, and/or personality. Is she an animal lover? An athlete? A fan of superheroes? This kind of information can be really useful when it’s time to make your selection. As you shop, try to imagine things from your friend’s point of view. And remember, just because you like something, doesn’t mean your friend will like it too. Getting into your friend’s mindset may take a little effort, but it’ll give you the best possible chance of making your gift a hit!

2. Make it Personal: There are some gifts that are universally useful such as school agendas, keychains, journals and calendars. Gifts like these can be good options since you know your friend will find a use for them. And just as important, they are super easy to personalize! Look for patterns and designs that include your friend’s favorite colors, or reflect their interests. This will help you turn an everyday item into something more meaningful!

3. Get Crafting: A homemade gift can take a little extra time and effort, but it’s a great way to show your friends that they are appreciated! Consider the talents/skills that could help you make an awesome gift. Do you have a knack for drawing? Spend some time creating a picture, or personalized comic book. Do you love baking? A plate of homemade cookies can make a delicious gift (just make sure you know your friend’s dietary restrictions). The possibilities are endless so have some fun, and let your creativity flow!

4. Don’t Break the Bank: Price can play a big role in choosing the perfect gift. If you’re participating in a Secret Santa exchange, your friends will likely agree on a price range. If that’s the case, make sure you stick to it. If you’re left to decide on your own price range, consider the phrase, it’s the thought that counts. Aim for a thoughtful gift, instead of an expensive one. If you go too big, your friend may feel uncomfortable (especially if she didn’t spend as much). So make sure the focus is on the meaning of the gift, and not on the money!

While choosing a gift for a friend can take some time and planning, it shouldn’t add stress to your holiday season. If anything, it’s a great chance to show your friends how well you know them, and how much they mean to you. So relax, get creative, and have fun! By following the steps above, you’re sure to find a gift that brings a little extra cheer to your friend’s holiday!

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More