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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Falcon’s guide to gift-giving during the holiday season

Shirina Cao
The Christmas season means an impending list of gifts to get.

It’s now December, Christmas is coming up and you might not know what to buy for your friends and family. Well, don’t worry, because The Falcon’s got your back. Sometimes ideas for gifts naturally come up in conversations, but for others, brainstorming takes a lot more effort. 

When it comes to gift-giving, context is everything. Simpler gifts that have meaning for some people might not have the same meaning for others. People often fall into the trap of extravagance, buying items solely for the ta-da! moment. Spending more money may seem to equate to higher-quality gifts, but that isn’t necessarily true. Good gifts have meaning, are useful and show that you care.

To figure out what people’s preferences are, you need to be attentive — take mental notes of people’s interests. For example, when you ask someone about their weekend, what is the first thing they mention? Also keep an eye out for what they have trouble with; consider what could be useful in their daily lives.

Now that we have pondered the deep questions of gift-giving, I’ll toss some ideas your way!

Say you have a crush — the gift-giving season is the perfect time to drop some hints. If you’re feeling bold, you can take the time to write a nice card and put together a gift basket full of chocolates and flowers. Don’t want to make it obvious? Get them a cactus! ($13) They will be sure to enjoy a plant that does not easily wilt on them. Since the cactus won’t ever die, they will be constantly reminded of you when they look at it.

Presents for siblings are harder. How do you get a gift for someone who has annoyed you your whole life? Something like a soft, fluffy blanket can be great for family movie nights.

For brothers, now is the perfect time to upgrade their closet with a nice sweater. ($25) If you are willing to spend a little more money, small electronics like headphones ($100), drones ($70) or VR headsets ($250) are some high-end options. If worst comes to worst, I suggest buying something you would want for yourself. Since you live in the same house, you can steal it from them whenever you want.

For sisters, general gifts like makeup, skincare or jewelry are easy to find, but keep in mind that everyone has different preferences. Specific skincare products are likely particular to a certain skin type, but a jade roller or gua sha tools ($17) can be used by anyone. You can always check your sister’s collection of skincare and makeup products to see if she’s running low on anything. If so, you can surprise her with a restock, or a different fun item from a brand she loves. As for jewelry, the minimalism of a sleek necklace ($48) or simple bracelet ($35) suffices; you can also opt for make-up ($58) or jewelry organizers ($32) if she already has too much of the above. 

The same goes for parents. What kind of gift can repay the support they have given throughout your lifetime? Whenever I ask my mom what she wants, she just replies that she already has everything she wants. However, I’ve noticed that my mom gets cold easily, so if you face a similar dilemma, you can get them some warm slippers ($58) or thermal gloves ($13). I know my mom would also like to spend more time reading, but she rarely has the time to sit down and open a book. If you have a smaller budget, making an audio recording of a book you think she might enjoy is incredibly thoughtful.

As for dads, one of the harsh realities of fatherhood and aging is the gradual manifestation of aching muscles and joint pain. Thus, a back massager contraption ($63.55) with built-in heating can help alleviate some of the discomfort. As avid coffee lovers, dads would love a new coffee machine ($120) or a coffee blend ($29). Additionally, dads aren’t known for their advanced skincare routines (you’re lucky if they even wash their face at all), so a general cleanser ($14.71) or moisturizer ($16) does the job too.

On the other side of the spectrum, sometimes you may end up with a Secret Santa that you don’t know very well. People love getting useful items, so some seasonal ideas are fuzzy socks ($24), a scarf ($25) or a warm hat ($20). If they prefer food, you can get them hot cocoa bombs ($8) or a nice basket ($30) full of little snacks will look thought-out even if it’s put together on short notice.

Unfortunately, some people just “like to be surprised.” Of course, they’ll still be expecting something to their liking, and I have just the idea for you: Get them something like a jack-in-the-box ($19) that pops out and surprises them! On the more serious side, you can gift them a pot of dirt with a pre-planted seed. This way, they won’t know what kind of plant it is until it sprouts out of the soil. Also, some stores offer mystery packages  online ($17), in which the gift becomes both a surprise for you and the recipient.

As a reminder, giving gifts should serve as a way to express love for someone, and thought and effort should be put into picking out gifts for people. Throughout the year, note the things that certain people enjoy and brainstorm possible gift ideas well before December. One last-minute idea could always be to get a gift card or send money. However, keep in mind these gifts are boring — avoid a gift card as much as possible.

If you’re really stumped, just ask! At the end of the day, people just want what they want. Fulfilling someone’s wishlist triumphs over an unthoughtful gift that was thrown together carelessly. It’s the perfect time to show your appreciation for your loved ones this holiday season with a new and improved gift selection!

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