As much as you’d like to dish presents out like Santa on steroids, the cycle of birthdays, farewell of colleague #10, Valentine’s day, #monthsary, anniversary, Mother & Father’s Day, baby shower, housewarming & secret Santa can take quite a toll on your wallet. You want to cry inside when you look at our bank account balance but then again the smile on your loved ones’ faces is priceless, right?
Rank your relationships
Not all relationships are made equal and it just doesn’t make sense to put in the same amount of effort for both your significant other and Jim Something from Accounting. With limited money and time, here’s one way to prioritize:
A NOTE FROM THE MINISTRY OF COMMON SENSE: Rank them in your head and do not read your list out loud.
Bronze Tier: Not So Important People (NSIP)
People in this tier are elevator-friendly – good enough for small talks in the lift but if it breaks down, you’ll quickly run out of topics (especially since you can’t see the weather from within the lift). Still, you are socially obligated to include them on your shopping list, otherwise, you’d be blacklisted as the asshole acquaintance.
Who they might be: Colleagues you don’t work closely with, once-a-year cliques
Silver Tier: Quite Important People (QIP)
Most people you care about fall in this category. These are people you know quite well and genuinely hope that your gift would make them happy. However since there are probably quite a number of people in the silver tier, you’d still have to keep things affordable.
Who they might be: Your colleagues & teammates, regular social cliques, cousins, business partners, friends whom you’ve remained in close contact with.
Gold Tier: Very Important People (VIP)
This is for the people you feel comfortable burping and farting around. You probably share quite a bit of history and already have a good grasp of each other’s quirks and likings. They love you and have been there for you and now it’s time to give back. Since this is reserved for the select few, it’s okay to splurge and spend a little more time on the gift.
Who they might be: Your parents, grandparents, mentors, best friends, significant other
The Value of a Gift: The Budget-Thoughtfulness Axis
Generally, a gift’s value can be judged based on:
Budget: How much money it cost. Naturally, the higher the budget of the gift, the higher it’s value. However, if you are getting something expensive, make sure it’s something the receiver can appreciate. There’s no point getting someone a $500 bottle of wine if a $20 bottle of wine is all the same to him.
Thoughtfulness: How much thought went into selecting the gift or how much time was spent making it. The right gift is often more cherished than a grand gift. When a gift is well-thought out, it doesn’t have to be expensive but it will be immensely meaningful. Something that only you will think of because of the experiences you’ve had with your giftee. We strongly recommend in putting more thought in getting someone a gift, especially in the higher tiers, because expensive junk is still junk.
Hacking the Low-Budget Silver Zone
As seen above, thoughtfulness is a great way to gift your silver tier without breaking the bank. However, thoughtfulness takes time. Keep a mental note for gold or even silver tier relationships and take note whenever they express interest in something or when you have a gift in mind. This way, you can make or buy your gift way ahead of time and even leverage on online sales since you have time to spare.
With this in mind, we take a look at some gifting strategies for each tier.
Bronze Tier Gifts: The Obligatory Mehs
Let’s keep our budget and thoughtfulness low here, they are probably doing the same.
Perfect if you have any useless gifts that remains in its packaging. Return it back into the ever-flowing current of regifted generic gifts and pray it doesn’t come back to you the next year. If you feel any guilt, keep chanting “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle” until it goes away.
The Bulk Purchase Gifts
This is approaching gifts with the mindset of a stock market pundit – buy low, gift whenever. From stores that are closing down to mega online events (Black Friday, 11/11, 12/12), there’s always sales happening if you keep your eyes peeled. Take advantage of these and stock up on generic presents that would make a decent gift for just about anyone.
The Last Minute Gift
This is really more of a last resort, but one that we are all too familiar with. When you’re out of time, the only option you have is a last-minute shopping spree. It’ll be the same generic gifts as you’d get online, just be expected to pay a little more as a penalty for not planning ahead.
Examples of bronze tier gifts: Fancy Notebooks, Cookies, Towels, Body Wash sets, Water Bottles
The Shared Gift
The Kickstarter of the gift-sharing world. Everyone wants their gift to look good but don’t want to spend too much on it. Gather these ‘everyone’ and chip in for a collectively impressive gift while keeping your budget low. This is great when the celebration revolves around one person like a 21st birthday party or a housewarming.
Silver & Gold Tier Gifts: The Good Stuff
Chances are, there are quite a bit of people in the silver tier so try to overcompensate with thoughtfulness to keep your budget on the low side. Gold tier gifts, on the other hand, is where you can really amp up on both thoughtfulness and budget and unleash that inner Santa.
The I-Know-You-Well Gift
This gift can only be given if you know the person well and you chose it specifically to show just that. It could be something based on an inside joke only the two of you know or a gift that plays to your receiver’s quirks and obscure tastes. At the silver tier, there are many budget-friendly options to show your thoughtfulness and if you pump up your budget, it becomes a big gesture worthy of a gold tier gift.
The Handmade Gift
The handmade gift is a good way to keep the budget low while still leaving quite an impression. At the silver tier, consider home-made creations that can easily be made in batches and given to groups while saving the really customized craft-heavy creation for the gold tier.
One way to keep things fresh for Gold tier gift is to step out of your comfort zone and attempt something you have no experience making. You probably know people in your Gold Tier for a while already so this has an added effect of being something unexpected. Also, since it’s beyond your comfort zone, you wouldn’t be expected to create a masterpiece and something passable should be enough to impress.
The Gift of Being “Present”
Once the adulthood train is in motion, we find ourselves with less and less time for the people around us. So sometimes, one of the best gifts is to plan for a day together and actually set aside time just for it. These are experiential gifts and can range from something simple like a meal at the silver tier all the way to an all-expenses-paid vacation at the gold tier. Either way, it’s the memories and time spent together here that is truly important.
The Wildcard Gift
Unlike the standard gift, the wildcard gift’s value lies heavily in its reveal. The wildcard gift is an unexpected novelty, like a pair of Spongebob boxers or a Supreme brick. It’s something tongue-in-cheek that you can only give to someone you are already close to. Anyone else and it’d be awkward, but because you’re on the same wavelengths, it’s a good laugh and makes for a good memory.
When they say, “it’s the thought that counts”, what they actually mean is that the thought put into a gift counts (for the unconvinced, try giving “thoughts” as a gift at your company’s secret Santa and see how it pans out). At the end of the day, a gift is an expression to show that you care and if you can show that in one form or another, that’s really all that matters.