A Guide to Buying Gifts December 05 2016

5 December 2016. How do you decide what to get someone as a gift, especially if you don't know the person well? An age-old question that has stymied the best of 'em. With two easy steps, you can get a lot closer to painless gift-giving.

Step 1: Accept that it really is the thought that counts. Reverse psychology is helpful here. Have you ever received a gift from someone you don't know well (so not your best friend or partner) that actually made you think less of that person? Chances are you haven't. A gift, even if it's not your style, almost always makes you feel warm and fuzzy and appreciated. The feeling that someone thought of you and made an effort on your behalf is part of the gift. 

Now switch the psychology back to the normal direction. You're putting time and thought towards someone, and that is a kindness in and of itself. The gift could be a broad range of things, and it would still convey the desired message: I care about you. 

Step 2: Plants, food, and experiences are winners. Plants: olive, rose geranium, and succulents are a few of our favorites. Food: a bottle of small-batch olive oil, pâte de fruit, or panforte. Experiences: a gift certificate to a new, local shop, a three-month long subscription to a spice/craft/coffee of the month club, or passes to a museum or theater. 

Most people, even the most finicky, will appreciate something that brings beauty, flavor, or a new experience into their life. And if they don't, that's where "it's the thought that counts" comes in and saves the day.

This holiday season, don't agonize -- shop wise!