I am laughably bad at choosing gifts for people. It’s very, very hard for me to come up with gift ideas, even for people I know well (most relatives, including my wife.) It’s almost like a form of aphasia! When one of my kids develops a new interest, I can use that to help choose, but most of the time I either have no ideas, or bad ideas. Having just been through another disastrous holiday season, I’m determined to improve.

So my question: could you please explain, as if to a Martian, how you’d go about choosing a pile of presents for your significant other for a birthday, etc. How can I choose eight gifts for Hannukah? Where do the ideas come from?

Note that I’m not interested in gift suggestions!

  • This is really broad... Can you narrow it down a bit?
    – apaul
    Jan 7, 2018 at 19:17
  • @apaul I think I created a better title, but the question as framed at the end of the post is exactly what I need to learn. Jan 7, 2018 at 19:39
  • I get that, but it's still too broad to be answered well in this format. Perhaps narrowing to one specific gift for one specific person could help? Also some context about this one specific person could help.
    – apaul
    Jan 7, 2018 at 19:46
  • Who deleted my previous comment about asking? Surely it was a relevant clarification?
    – user6818
    Jan 8, 2018 at 6:30

1 Answer 1


I'm going to focus on the bit where you say: where do the ideas come from?

I try not to buy holiday gifts near the holidays. Instead, all year round, I keep a weather eye out for things I think my loved ones would like. Come December, I have something for almost everyone. I also listen carefully to what they say and what they look at in shops. If they express a desire for something then that goes on the "possible" list. This especially works for things that they'd like but they can't justify buying for themselves for whatever reason. Another check if they use them is wishlists on Amazon or other online stores, if they use those.

If you know they have a particular hobby, you could try looking at related items. If you're bewildered by their hobby (easily possible!) then internet forums specific to it might help you out some.

Finally, if you're aiming for a "pile" remember that not all the gifts need be really significant/different. My parents almost always buy me some socks and small clothing like that, and some chocolates/other food, to make something that looks like a "pile".

  • Great answer. Most of my best successes have come from picking up this or that throughout the year. The key is to have a hiding place where you can collect these things, so you don't forget where you put them. Jan 9, 2018 at 5:21

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