One of the hardest, most fraught parts of the holidays is that age-old tradition of gift giving.
Few things stress in quite the same way as nervously shuffling through a store on Dec. 23 looking for a present that’s not going to look like you bought it nervously on Dec. 23.
That’s why Her Hacks is here — to get you to Dec. 20, or with a little luck, Dec. 15.
Here are a few hacks to get you through every part of the gift-giving-gift-receiving process.
It’s not a science, but the Her Hacks Team is going to try and apply a method to the madness.
Restrictions breed creativity. Sure it’s an aphorism — along the lines of “I’ll forgive but never forget” (thank you for that ominous, vengeful forgiveness) and “You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs” (unless, you know, you’re using egg beaters or eating out) — but it’s one that makes a lot of sense.
After all, what’s scarier than a blank page to an artist? Maybe badgers, but that’s only for plein air events.
And, if there’s one blank page that’s particularly powerful in its puissance it’s not knowing where to start with finding a gift.
The Social Lights has a few tips at tinyurl.com/y2xm3xve, but there’s one in particular that stands out as too obvious: Be a creep.
No, not the MRA kind, the kind that creeps on social media. After all, social media isn’t just a record of our thoughts, opinions and tendencies that will live on long after our deaths, it’s also a great place to figure out that Tammi lost her KitchenAid mixer in a terrible cement-mixing incident.
And, it’s extra handy because we’ve got access to just such information right in the palm of our hands.
Finding the right one
OK, you’ve got an idea for someone, it’s solid and you’re ready to hit the hallowed halls of Target to pick it up.
But what if there are multiple colors? Or levels of fanciness? Or a choice between full screen and wide screen (that’s a joke, always go wide screen).
LifeHacker posted an interesting tidbit titled “Fancy Versions of Inexpensive Items Make the Best Gifts” (tinyurl.com/y6j65t7w).
It’s an interesting read in its entirety, but the gist is that, if someone is into socks, a really nice pair of artisanal foot gloves are probably going to make for a nice, well-remembered gift without breaking any banks.
Prepping the gift
There are a lot of ways to prep homemade gifts for the perfect giving scenario (never underestimate how much people like it when they get handmade mod podged coasters featuring your face).
But there are ways to prep non-DIY gifts as well.
The classic that everyone knows is being prepared with batteries if the gift requires them. But, why not take the aforementioned LifeHacker article to heart and get a nice set of rechargeable batteries?
Also, if you’re giving the gift of a phone, laptop, tablet, video game console or other similar device, go ahead and open it up ahead of time and make sure all the software updates are installed. That way, the giftee gets to jump right in without having to wait an hour and a half for security updates. And, bonus, you can boot up some of the games while you’re “waiting” to “test” them out.
Finally, never underestimate the effect of a little extra care when it comes to our next category: The wrapping.
Wrapping the gift
Wrapping gifts well is a particular talent that not all of us necessarily have. The Her Hacks Team, in particular, is known for mismatched paper bits strewn about presents, with random bits of tape keeping the whole concoction from falling apart.
There are about 5.6 million tutorials online to teach you how to wrap better (here are a couple: tinyurl.com/y2lr42zb and tinyurl.com/y3ue2pr3). but why do that when you can just involve candy in the process?
The Krazy Coupon Lady blog has a fairly extensive list of hacks at tinyurl.com/y8fxkqac, but the two that really get sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) ringing are using candy as a bow topper and sealing gift bags with candy canes. Also, don’t miss using toys and crayons as box decorations, which opens up all sorts of fun possibilities.
Giving the gift
It’s too easy to neglect the importance of how a gift actually makes it from the hands of the gifter to the hands of the giftee.
A lot of families have long-established traditions for the holidays — light-viewing tours, caroling, opening gifts at a certain time or in a certain way — so one option is to develop a tradition of your own.
Modern Simplicity — whose tagline “Creating a life free from chaos” puts its purpose entirely on front street — has a list of ideas for creating holiday traditions at tinyurl.com/y68n9uk8. The best advice it gives, though, applies to any tradition: Make it personal.
Yoga by Candace has a list of very practical gift hacks at tinyurl.com/y2b5nym8. A couple highlights are using a rewards program credit card and using the reward to fund gift cards and shopping local.
But the really interesting tidbit comes in tip No. 2: memories are greater than things.
It’s a sentiment shared in an article on the Fun Cheap or Free blog at tinyurl.com/yxvshp3x.
Besides the very good advice that no one’s ever been disappointed with a gift card (sage advice), the author also hits on the concept of experiential gifts.
What’s better than golf equipment? Golf lessons. What’s better than a new kitchen set? Cooking classes. And if it’s the right sort of person, maybe classes or lessons for two?
Now that all the work’s done and you’ve successfully gifted, there’s nothing left to do but put your feet up, brew up some hot chocolate and enjoy that post-giving glow.
Oh, and also check out these gifts for cat lovers — tinyurl.com/y3oglgae — and these for dog lovers — tinyurl.com/y4znwh37.
After all, there’s no time like the present to get started for next year.
Anthony Frenzel writes for the Telegraph Herald.