There are two types of people in this world. Those who love buying presents, and those who want to curl up in a ball at the very thought of entering a shopping centre to find someone a birthday gift. I am someone who loves planning, buying and giving presents. There’s something about seeing people’s faces when they receive a carefully planned gift that makes all the organisation and labouring worthwhile.
As a student, I find myself limited to a pitiful budget. But now, with a few good years of gift addiction under my belt, I feel like I have a stash of handy tips to pass round.
When I sense someone is dropping a hint (subtle or otherwise), at any point in the year, I’ll jot the idea down for later
Firstly, make note of what your friends like. If you see a friend eyeing something up when shopping, take note. If you notice them online shopping in lectures, try to remember which sites they visit. I also have a list in the notes application on my phone for each of my friends and family members.
When I sense someone is dropping a hint (subtle or otherwise), at any point in the year, I’ll jot the idea down for later. If I spot a product that I think they’ll like when I’m out shopping, I’ll write it down. I also like to add their favourite things from the year – a new favourite music artist or film for example. This saves a lot of time, effort and saves you from panicking before the big day comes around.
I have a few favourite websites I like to turn to when it’s time to start gift planning: Pinterest, Etsy and Thortful. Pinterest is great for creative ideas which are both relatively cheap and easy. I have a secret board on mine where I hoard ideas.
If you’re not the creative type, Etsy is a gold mine. Even with the ‘UK only’ and ‘Price: Low to high’ filters active, there are still thousands of independent and artisanal gifts available. From jewellery to personalised beers, you’re almost guaranteed to find a good bargain that will make even the most discerning of friends or family very happy.
If you’re really in a pinch, or don’t know the recipient thoroughly enough, I recommend Thortful – hilarious independently designed cards for all sorts of occasions (who wouldn’t want a birthday card featuring Captain Holt?). They also offer very affordable next day delivery, to either you, or the recipient. You can send chocolates, cakes, and jazzy socks too.
With a few well-thought-out ideas, you can piece together a really lovely and affordable gift
If you’re still looking for inspiration, I’ll offer up a few of my go-to ideas. I love a good gift hamper. They may seem to be a very American as a concept, but with a few well-thought-out ideas, and a trip to a variety of shops (Supermarkets, Wilko, Tiger) you can piece together a really lovely and affordable gift.
When my two best friends left for their years abroad, I sent them off with my homemade gift hampers. For the one, I created an ‘Oh Sh*t Kit’: the perfect combination of items to save her during and after a night out, including hand sanitiser, paracetamol, face wipes, mints, instant coffee and a mini vodka, amongst other things.
For my other friend, who is a travel and art junkie, I made an ‘Explorers Kit’: a diary so she could share her adventures with us, sun cream, mini paints, mints, wet wipes and a mini money bank so she could save up her spare change for a drink on the last night of her year abroad. With a note attached to the front of the bag to explain its use, it was a really fulfilling gift to give. Other options could include a Movie Night Kit, Spa Night Kit, or a cheeky Date Night Kit.
You’ll be giving them a book of great memories to cherish for years
Another concept which is both meaningful and almost free is the ‘Open When…’ letters. The concept is simple; you write letters for certain situations- ‘Open When.. You are happy!’, ‘Open When… You are hungover’, and so on. Fill with cute sentiments and little tokens (a tissue and a tea bag for ‘Open When.. You are Sad’), and put them in a box with an explanation. This is great for long distance friendships and relationships or just if you want to be able to make your friends or family smile during their day.
My final proposal is a photo-book. You can either make these online, and get them delivered, or pop into Wilko or Paperchase and pick up a nice notebook. Using an app like ‘FreePrints’ you can upload and get sent high quality photo prints, and the first 45 prints are for free! Glue them in, with a few funny captions and doodles, and you’ll be giving them a book of great memories to cherish for years!