The Analytical Guide to Gift Giving: How to Give Great Gifts for Anyone

Great gifts are also wrapped!
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With Thanksgiving over and the holidays fast approaching, it’s easy to get stressed out about gift giving. If you’re like me, (someone who is naturally lazy), it’s tempting to take the easy way out and buy everyone gift cards, or even worse, venmo. However, with only a little extra critical thinking you can give great gifts for your family and friends that they’ll actually appreciate.

Why is it important give good gifts?

It may be obvious, but worth reiterating: gift giving is important because it helps us maintain and develop relationships: it’s even one of the five love languages. Great gift giving shows our loved ones how much we care about them. Mediocre gift giving might send the wrong signal. Conclusion: it’s important to be a great gift giver.

So What Makes a Gift Good?

Here’s where people get tripped up. A lot of us fall back on one metric since it’s the most objective and the one that’s on our minds as we’re shopping: price. However, price really has nothing to do with how good a gift is. Sure, it could be interpreted as a proxy by how much you care about someone, by how much you’re willing to spend on them, but that’s a superficial approach that feeds into our toxic consumer culture. If you have folks in your life that care about the price of their gifts beyond these other factors, I’d encourage you to rethink those relationships. In fact, some of the best gifts are priceless.


Great gifts should always be specific to the person receiving them–this is why gift cards are always such a cop out. When thinking of what gift to give, you should think about what that person is interested in: do they have a hobby / obsession that you can support? Is there anything they’ve talked about doing but haven’t yet? Giving someone a gift that speaks to their hobbies shows that you understand and care about them far more than a gift card ever could.

Share Your Passion

If you can’t think of a hobby that you can shop for, consider sharing something that you enjoy instead. For creatives, this can also be a frugal decision as well: it’s typically cheaper to make some jam or paint a painting than it is to go out and spend $50 on some junk. Plus you’ll be giving them a unique gift that speaks to your passion and talents. Even if you’re not creative, sharing something you’ve enjoyed like a good book is a way to further deepen your relationship.

When in Doubt, Go Practical

So your brother doesn’t have any hobbies outside of binge watching and you’re not a creative person, now what? Is there anything he needs that you notice he’s missing? Maybe he doesn’t love cooking, but you notice he could use a new knife set? Or maybe his wallet is ratty looking and he could use a new one? Buying one of these items is much more impactful than a gift card because it shows that you’re thinking about them and their needs. Plus, if it’s a durable item (like a knife set), every time your brother chops an onion, he’ll be thinking of you. That’s a pretty good gift if you ask me, and much better than that novelty T shirt you were thinking of getting.


There’s nothing revolutionary here: good gifts show that you know, care, and think about the person that you’re giving the gift to. For minimal extra effort (try a 30 minute brainstorming session) you can give your loved ones gifts that they actually appreciate, improving your relationships and helping you live a meaningful life.

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