We've spent nearly two decades thinking about what makes a great gift great, here are the common threads relating to rules of gift giving that we've found:
Rule #1 - Give something people actually want
We've all been there - that awkward moment when you open up a gift and realize you'll be waiting for the day when you can throw this thing away. Material goods are ubiquitous in our time, and sometimes more stuff feels like more burden.
To help find a gift that the recipient truly wants, think about how this person likes to spend their time and what they value in life. If you can find a gift that aligns with someone's passions or interests, you've found a winner. This can work as a negative filter as well, does a coffee table book filled with useless facts really enhance your recipient's life?
Rule #2 - Put meaning behind the gift
The second rule is all about putting meaning behind the gift; think of it as the difference between between getting your friend who loves beer a six pack from the gas station versus stopping in to a speciality store, talking to the beer aficionado there about your friend's tastes and getting a special recommendation.
The key here is to demonstrate that you went the extra mile to consider the recipient as an individual human being. If you're feeling stuck here, consider looking into the values of different vendors--my father spent years working in manufacturing and so I make sure every gift I get him is U.S.A. made.
Rule #3 - Make it personal
So you have something the recipient wants, and it has meaning behind it, but to make a gift truly transcendant requires one more step - a personal touch. At the end of the day, the best gifts aren't about the object itself but an exchange of gratitude, love and appreciation.
Set aside some time to think about the recipient, why you are getting them a gift, why it matters they are in your life, then find a way to express that: write a letter, paint a picture, read a poem. When all is said and done, our lives aren't valued by material objects but by the relationships we form.
By following these rules your gifts will be desired by the recipient and convey your gratitude, love and appreciation. Happy gifting!