Do I Really Need to Buy a Gift for Her?

Do I Really Need to Buy a Gift for Her?

Avoid the holiday awkwardness by consulting our guide and being prepared for any gifting situation.


By: Adam Easterling

You look down at the unexpected gift thrust into your hands by that neighbor lady you see once every month or two. Was her name Gladys? Glenda? You're sure it begins with a G, but the rest is fuzzy.

It doesn't matter, because that cheery look of expectant reciprocation on Gladys/Glenda (maybe Gertrude?) starts to disappear as she studies your reaction. That sheepish, furrowed half grin you're throwing off seems to confirm that you didn't get her anything. Boy, this is awkward.

A scenario like this is all too common during the holidays. As your world expands to include in-laws, kids, neighbors, co-workers, parents of the kids who play with your kids, mail carriers, hairdressers, nannies — the list goes on.

Where does it end? How do you know whom to lavish with tokens of appreciation during the holidays? Where do you draw the line? Well, while there's no foolproof way of knowing for sure, let's take a look at a few suggestions. 

Where to Start
Start by making a list of all the people you will definitely give a gift. This would include immediate family, your closest friends, in-laws (no getting around that), and anyone else locked in. You'll have a nice baseline to expand from as you go along, and can get those gifts out of the way early. 

Where to Add 
Now for the trickier part: Whom do I add to the list?

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Co-workers: At work, you can ask around if there's a policy in place. Find out if other people are getting the boss a gift, or if co-workers are pitching in for each other.

Neighbors: A sly inquiry when chatting with a neighbor can give you the lay of the land around the block as far as gifts go, for each other or even a mail carrier you all share.

Coaches and teachers: Drop them a small gift! This can be something small or homemade. It’s really the thought that counts with this group.

People you see every so often: A hair stylist, bank teller or that bus driver you see every day before work. A token of appreciation during the holidays can be a nice touch. Do yourself a favor and make a few stock gifts ahead of time to hand out to these people. Homemade cookie jars, hand scrubsand tins of holiday cookies make awesome gifts for this situation. 

Unexpected gift givers: Be ready! Keep a handful of signed holiday cards around with small gift certificates inside a blank envelope, ready for those moments when you need to hastily address them to that person ringing the doorbell. What was her name again? Glenda?

Tip: As you expand your list, keep your budget in mind. The further down the list, the less you need to spend. Your outlay for a close friend will be greater than for a neighborly acquaintance, so plan accordingly. And if your list exceeds your budget, feel free to snip it a bit. You can't please everyone.

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