Specifically, when it comes to figuring out what to get that person who claims they don’t want anything. It may be for your co-worker during secret Santa. Maybe it’s your partner. Maybe it’s a parent who has gotten the same gift from you for a few decades running. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to sidestep their stoic demeanor and blow their effing socks off (hey, cool socks could work).
Pay attention to stuff they may mention in passing. People subconsciously drop hints about things they secretly covet all the time. See if they mention a book they want to read or a movie they missed when it was in the theaters. If you’re at the store with them, pay attention to anything they pick up or linger over but neglect to drop in the cart. Start keeping a running tally in your head or even jot it down in your phone with a notes app or a text to yourself.
Shocking statement: people love to complain. At least most of us do. Pay attention to their griping and see if you can find something that solves a problem, even if it’s an issue they don’t realize they talk about. “I can never fit all this stuff in my bag for work.” “Every time I hike, I feel like my thighs are building inch-thick calluses.” “Don’t you hate it when your toaster tries to electrocute you every morning?” Phrases like these could be the answers to all your holiday gift-giving woes. Key in on a need or complaint and find a thoughtful way to fix it. Especially that second example.
There is a product or service for nearly anything a person could ever require, and a lot of crazy stuff that no one will ever truly need, but hell—looks like a lot of fun. Track down something that fits in either category by finding items that are off the beaten path. It might be some weird new tech from Kickstarter or a quirky handmade item from Etsy. Unless they’re constantly on the hunt for unique one-off items, chances are your recipient of choice hasn’t stumbled across these particular goods.
No, don’t follow them to their car or stake out their place. But you can see what brands they follow on social media. This should clue you into a category of gifts they’d be interested in. At the very least, you’ll get them an item from a company they like. Bonus tip: sign up for that brand’s newsletter. They’ll often send out exclusive offers or let you know about items before they’re available to the public at large.
Stuff is cool. Most all of us like it. But if you truly want to blow the mind of your holiday target, treat them to an experience. It might be something they see as too extravagant but know they would love, like a visit to the spa or a hotel getaway in their own city. Up the ante by giving them a once-in-a-lifetime happening. Depending on your budget, it might be something simple like an outdoor excursion in a remote area near you. Get crazier with something like bungee jumping, skydiving or front-row seats at an epic show or sporting event. Some of these experiences may only last hours (some minutes), but the recipient will be sure to remember them forever.
Nostalgia is a very powerful thing. If they ever talk about an item from their youth as “the toy that got away,” there’s a great chance they’d love to have it again. Because who doesn’t want to feel like a kid again? While this tactic may take a bit more planning, online tools like eBay can be your best friend here—even with a tight turn around. You never know what you can find on there. If you’d rather take a more hands on approach, antique shops(or even thrift stores) can land you some pretty crazy stuff.