Friday, May 11, 2012

Getting Good at Buying Gifts

It is hard to believe that I have been helping people purchase special gifts for people they care about for almost nine years at Creative Genius Art Gallery and Studio. It seems like yesterday that someone asked me for help for the first time and I was frozen, unsure of how to help them connect with the perfect present.

Today, I am far more confident and very experienced at connecting people with a gift that not only works but earns them high praise from recipients for their great choices. There is no real secret to gift buying but it is amazing how many people really struggle with finding something that works. After thinking about it, I decided it might be helpful for women (and men!) to have a handy list of tips that I use to help make gift buying easy, painless and kind of fun for my clients.

1. Know your budget
It always helps to have a starting point or a range that you want to stick to spending. This helps anyone assisting you to narrow down your choices. If you are open to going slightly out of budget that is great but definitely have a range in mind to start off your gift buying adventure.

2. Describe your gift recipient with key words
The first question I always ask my gift buyer is to describe who they are buying a gift for with three words. Are they artsy, creative, unusual? Conservative, classic and elegant? If someone is elegant, I am not showing that funky, large outrageously creative necklace right off the bat because it might not be the best fit. By the same token, a small classic pearl necklace isn't a good fit for a funky creative type either. Having a description helps connect the person helping you with your recipient.

3. Know his/her hobbies
Knowing a person's hobbies can actually help narrow down decisions. This is kind of like the key word description (see #2). Is your recipient a red hatter? Is she an artist? does she like to cook or entertain? Does he play golf? Enjoy wine? Take pride in the custom bar in his home? All these items can help connect you to the perfect gift or at the very least, great options.

4. Know sizes, colors, personal preferences
If you know that the person you are buying for hates silver jewelry, or loves bracelets or doesn't have her ears pierced, certainly it helps eliminate wasting time on items that don't work. By the same token, knowing that someone has a large wrist or dislikes pottery on principle is helpful too. Knowing a person's favorite colors just adds to this.

5. Imagine the gift recipient's home environment
Do they like contemporary items? Prefer country style decor? It helps the person assisting you to learn about the person and be able to guide you accordingly. I certainly wouldn't show someone in a country style house a contemporary item unless I was asked about it. Although there are exceptions, generally a home is a reflection of a person's personality and can be a helpful clue in the gift buying process.

6. Does your recipient prefer function over decoration? 
I always ask if the person entertains because then I can guide the buyer towards items that will help the person entertain with nice functional pieces. Plus a person who entertains needs things like cheese plates, wine racks, etc. This helps open up many unique possibilities that a buyer may not have considered.

7. Don't be afraid to get adventurous
Most people appreciate receiving gifts that aren't something they might buy for themselves but are still unique, interesting or useful. Yes, there are instances when you need something specific but isn't it fun to get surprised once in a while and receive something unique that you never thought about? I think so and I encourage this to the gift buyers in my gallery. Because the gallery is filled with hand-made American art and creations, there is always something unique. The person you are buying for might never have considered what you choose but will appreciate and love it nonetheless.

Those are just a few of the many helpful tips that can make your gift buying journey easier.
And of course, don't forget the gift Creative Genius, gift wrapping is always free!

Julie Basello-Holt is the owner/operator of Creative Genius Art Gallery and Studio, located at 32 North Main Street in Medford, NJ. 609-714-1131

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