Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ideas for the Hard to Shop for to Help You Finish Off Your Holiday Shopping List

Well, it’s officially the last week before Christmas. How ready are you? If you’ve been smart and organized maybe all you have left is a little wrapping and a meal to prepare for. If that's the case, pat yourself on the back and go make yourself an eggnog. You don't need to read this. But, if you’re like many of us, the pressure of the clock counting down may be starting create anxiety about being ready. And nothing kills the Christmas spirit faster than stress, so let’s get busy so when Christmas arrives, you can relax, have an eggnog and enjoy the day.

So, if you haven’t done so already, grab a pen and paper and start writing down everyone you still need a gift for. If you have any plans or ideas of what you’d like to get for any of them, jot that down next to their name as you go. If you already have a list, get it out and take stock.

Focus first on the ones with the notes and ideas around their names. Is there anyone you have already pretty much decided what to get, but haven’t gotten around to it yet? Rather than put them off to focus on the ones you have no clue about, thinking they’ll be easy to take care of at the last minute, tackle them first. You know what you want, or at least have an idea, so find and purchase that gift now. If you hurry, there's still just enough time that you have the option to buy it online and spare yourself hours of crowds and traffic, and dealing with things being all sold out in the style or size you need. It’s a far more efficient and relaxing way to shop, and you have a much bigger selection to choose from, more time to browse, and you can do it all from the comfort of home. Hop online now and do a little price comparison shopping, clarify any details you may need to know and order those gifts today. Not only will you be thanking yourself a week from now, you’ll find yourself breathing easier and enjoying yourself more tonight.

Once that’s handled, and you know those gifts will be coming in time to wrap and tuck under the tree, fix yourself a treat or have some dinner, and then sit down with the rest of the list. These are the people who leave you stumped for ideas, in some cases year after year. Those are the chronically impossible to shop for, and one of the greatest causes of holiday stress.

For a moment, set aside the thoughts about shopping and strategy and what to buy and just think about the people on that impossible list. Think about each of them as individuals. What kind of person are they, and what makes them tick? You still have time to collect some very useful information that should help you shop and increase your odds of picking the perfect gift.

So instead of focusing on gifts, put your psychologist hat on and focus on the people themselves. Take a deeper look and start noticing things about them you might not have thought about before.

Here’s a List of Things To Start Noticing As Of Right Now

Color preferences

What colors do they wear most of the time? What colors do they choose whenever there’s a choice? What colors do they select for key chains, notebooks, bags and accessories or game pieces? What color is their vehicle? (or other mode of transportation?) Here in America folks really identify with their cars,( or bikes or skateboards.) They see them as extensions of their personality. If they have a car, did they pick it out themselves? Or are they younger and still stuck using Mom’s hand-me-downs? If the latter, what would they be driving if they had their ‘druthers? Most of them will know the answer to that and be happy to share. That will tell you something about their personal style as they see it.

Style of clothing

How do they like to dress? What are they wearing not just when you see them on special occasions, but most of the time in their everyday lives? Are they urban hip, all natural, professionally stylish, casual elegant, teen trendsetter in leopard and glitter, black on black glam or Goth, or perhaps a minimalist gray is the new black look? Whatever their style, the older they are, the more fixed or set their style will be. The goal is to get them something that feels like them. Something comfortable and familiar that they can identify with.

Style of home décor

Is their home all put together in a matching style or motif, or is it more of a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs? Is it centered around Grandma’s antique furniture sets or new sleek modern entertainment centers to coordinate a mass of technology and toys? Do they go more for aluminum and glass or leather and lots of wood? And is the wood light, medium or dark? Sleek and adjustable or heavy , substantial and made to last? And, (as I often find myself wondering,) did they choose their couch based on how it looks or how comfortable it feels when you sit on it? You can learn a lot about someone by studying the space they create, about their personal style, and even whether their style is important to them.

What stage of development is their home décor? For example, is every square inch of their wall space covered? If so, they probably don’t need another calendar, or a cute clock, let alone a wrapped canvas wall hanging. Are the cupboards packed to overflowing, mugs and glasses stacked 3 or 4 high? Maybe another cute cat mug isn’t going to add much of value, here, no matter how much they love cats.

What's their "thing"?

Do they have a “thing” that they’re into? This could either be a hobby or activity they value or something they collect or identify with. What’s their special interest? For example, lots of cat lovers collect cat things. They like cat calendars and cat statues and cats on aprons and oven mitts (and clothes!) and cat notebooks, checkbooks and wall art. So anything with a cat on it is likely to be a hit. Bonus points if it’s useful and something they could actually use. Extra super duper bonus points if it’s got a picture of THEIR cat. Other not-cat people might be into owls or butterflies or vampires or zombies or vintage airplanes or sports memorabilia or statues of the Buddha. Whatever their “thing” is, it has special meaning and attraction for them, and they’ll love things that remind them of it or are associated with it.

What stage of life are they in?

Are they retired? Established in their home and not likely to move again if they can help it? Or transitioning from the teens to the twenties, just starting out, getting a place of their own for the first time? Or fresh out of college ready to set out on some grand adventure before “settling down” and making those kinds of commitments that start narrowing one's choices and possibilities? Are they just beginning to focus on finding their true life path? Or reaching the Pinnacle of it and just starting to wonder about what will come after? As far as their living situation, are they in a small apartment that still needs to be either filled up or squeezed into, or a big house crammed full of memories and too much stuff?

Some life stages are more conducive to collecting "stuff" than others. A collectible that will last for years is lovely and makes for a gift with traction. But, for someone in a transitional stage who may even be getting rid of things or putting them in storage it just becomes another thing to deal with. Something transitory, but useful, will be much more appropriate, like a calendar or day planner, a special notebook, digital music, even a scarf or sweatshirt for the cold weather. Practical, useful, and fits in a suitcase are more valuable traits than long lasting and full of memories.

Do they entertain at home?

If so, are they older, established and well practiced at it? (In which case they undoubtedly have matching sets of table settings, coasters, serving trays and dining decor.) But, if they’re younger, in their first house or apartment, and don’t already have collections of items for home entertaining, think about what colors and styles will match with their current furnishings, style and personality.

Often the people hardest to shop for are the ones who are older, grandparents and other elderly family members. Most likely if you ask them what they want they’ll say it doesn’t matter or tell you not to get them anything. (Unlike the little ones who will remind you of their list every chance the get, lol! ;-) Grandparents are likely to have been collecting household items for decades, have full sets of everything and back-ups, too. The only thing they may be out of is room in the cupboards and closets for more. They also probably don't care much about the latest fashions, the current Top 40 Hits or trendy new music, and it's highly unlikely they lie awake at night dreaming of the latest new tech gadget. However if they do have a computer, cell phone or tablet, or have been considering getting one, the is an area where your knowledge could be really helpful to them, so some things to consider are:

1.  What technology do they currently use?
  • Cell Phone?
  • Computer?
  • Mobile computer/laptop?
  • Tablet?
2.  How do they connect?
  • Cable? 
  • Satellite? 
  • Old fashioned phone line? (Yes, people still do!)
3.  Where do they use it?
    For instance, do they have a computer that sits on a desk at home its whole life, or something smaller that gets to go with them everywhere? If your knowledge and understanding of modern mobile technology is greater than theirs, you can almost certainly add something of value to their mix. It might be something as simple as the ubiquitously needed sturdy 16 gig flash drive to back up all their computer files on. Or maybe something a little bit more fun.

    You may need to ask some questions to determine what technology they’re currently using and what things they might be open to exploring. Now is the time to ask. And you might need to be prepared for the possibility that they are not open to trying something new. But, if they are learning or interested in learning to use a computer or mobile device, the guidance you could give them and the knowledge you could share might be a truly valuable gift when it comes to technology. A lot of seniors are intimidated by computers and the Internet because it's so unfamiliar that it feels hopelessly complicated and hard to learn. They get lost listening to younger folks talking about just because there are too many words they don't know the meaning to that it all starts to sound like gibberish. Chances are that a better understanding of a few basic concepts and terms and a couple of hours on Pinterest will show them that many things are not that difficult and can be interesting, useful and a lot of fun. Helping to set things up and then taking them on a few test drives before they’re ready to hop on that proverbial superhighway on go off on their own adventure could make all the difference in whether they actually learn to use and enjoy a new toy.

    I actually believe the Internet can be an incredibly powerful and positive influence for seniors, especially if they live alone, or just don't get out much any more. Unless they are living with family, (and even if they are) they are apt to become increasingly isolated, leading to loneliness and depression. The Internet gives them a way to connect with people, literally all over the planet, and learn about and share things they are interested in. They can meet new people and stay in touch with old friends, share pictures, stories, remedies and ways of coping with issues that many others may be experiencing. If someone you care about is becoming more isolated as they age, and is still unfamiliar with or easily confused by how to use a computer and navigate the web, sharing some of your time and knowledge might be the very best gift you could possibly give them. Once they're online you can continue to share and turn them on to new things, and make it easier on yourself to stay in touch, but someone needs to show them the way there, first.

    Often the people that are the hardest to shop for are in a different stage of life than we are. If they are older and already have everything they want that you could possibly afford to give them, then there are three ways you can approach finding them an appropriate and worthy gift:

    1. find something they’ll enjoy having that expresses the sentiment that you love them, and that they deserve fabulous and grand gifts far beyond what you could offer, but instead they’ll have something they see every day that reminds them of you and how much you love them. Things with family pictures, pet names, things with sentimental meaning to them, or something that symbolizes the love of family will make them feel loved and appreciated. Or if they have a “thing” or special interest like we discussed earlier, you can add to their collection.

    2. Find something they don’t know they want. Something invented recently they’re not familiar with, but that could really be useful and add value, even in a small way. Keep in mind that you may need to explain it to them, show them how to use it and even convince them that this new, unfamiliar item will be worth spending the time to learn something new.

    3. Instead of buying them something, figure out something they need that you can do for them. Spend some time with them not just hanging out, but taking care of something that they might have trouble doing themselves. You could help them with certain maintenance chores like cleaning out rain gutters or the backs of closets, or washing the car, or other things that they might have more trouble doing for themselves than even a few years ago. Getting old affects different people differently, but often physical and mental tasks become increasingly more difficult for the elderly, and if they're used to being independent, they may find it difficult to ask for help. You might need to do some asking to identify what things are giving them trouble. There might be some small thing you never even considered that they've been struggling with or ignoring for awhile. It's not a traditional gift, but it might be more valuable to them than piles of expensive stuff.

    If they’re younger than you, have less financial resources and are less “established” where they live that’s a different ball game. Perhaps you can afford to spoil them, if you want to. Or you may prefer to use your wisdom gained from many years of living and give them something truly valuable, educational or that will in some way benefit their future ability to create the life they want, even if they don’t appreciate its value now. (For instance, some grandparents may prefer to put money in a college fund and just buy a small gift for under the tree. Others may offer to pay for private music lessons for a gifted student) This becomes a different kind of personal choice about the relationship you have with this person. Is it more important for you to be loved and appreciated in the here and now, or to give them an opportunity to make a better life over time? And the answer to that question depends on so many things, including whether they already have a lot of options and opportunities or not.

    If they're under 18, and you really have no clue what to get them, you'll rarely find a teenager who minds getting money instead of a traditional gift. They'll almost certainly appreciate it far more than something that doesn't fit their current taste or lifestyle. Or you can a way to let them pick it out themselves, and if you have the opportunity to be with them when they do, you might learn a lot about what they like, which will come in handy for next time. Because unless they're your own kids, giving money becomes less appropriate once they become young adults, and, of course, it's not nearly as much fun as surprising them by picking out the perfect gift.

    More Gift Ideas
    I asked some of the more successful prosellers at Zazzle for ideas on finding the best gift for those hardest to shop for folks, and they had some great suggestions, both traditional and some more unconventional. The old classic is, of course, themed calendars around a topic of interest. We all need a couple this time of year, and it's rarely a problem to find a place for an extra. Here are some fun ones From Bebop's Place and Fun Nature Photography for nature and wildlife lovers, gardeners, musicians, vegetarians, chefs, and folks into medicinal herbs and rural landscapes and architecture. You can find hundreds more, on almost any theme you can imagine in the calendar section of our shop.

    Calendars from Bebop's Place

    Cute Life Lessons Calenders from Fun Nature Photography and Year at Glance Mandala Poster Calendars from Celtic Revival

    For new families, or folks you don't know quite well enough personally to know what they really are hoping to see under the tree, a custom ornament is a lovely gift. It's a revered tradition and a gift that can stay in a family for many years. Here are some new ornaments for musicians, mystics and mandala lovers, astrology buffs or people and families with a Celtic heritage. You can find these and many more ornaments here.

     Silver Music Clefs Snowflake Christmas OrnamentLearn More Red Music Clefs Snowflake Christmas OrnamentLearn More Music Clefs Purple Glitter Christmas OrnamentLearn More Red Music Clefs Snowflake Christmas OrnamentLearn More Swirling Purple Music Clef Holiday OrnamentLearn More Electric Guitar Magic Music Holiday OrnamentLearn More Purple Treble Clef Spiral Heart Holiday OrnamentLearn More Gold Treble Clef Swirl Heart Holiday OrnamentLearn More Silver Double Bass Clef Fractal Snowflake OrnamentLearn More Swirling Golden Music Clef Snowflake OrnamentLearn More Purple Glitter Christmas Bass Clef Snowflake OrnamentsLearn More Swirling Golden Pink Music Clef Snowflake OrnamentLearn More Gold Zodiac Sign Cancer on Purple Glitter OrnamentLearn More Green Zodiac Sign Virgo on Purple Glitter OrnamentLearn More Zodiac Sign Pisces on Purple Glitter OrnamentLearn More Zodiac Sign Sagittarius on Purple Glitter OrnamentLearn More Yin-Yang OM Moon Mandala Christmas OrnamentLearn More Teal and Purple Celtic Mandala Christmas OrnamentLearn More Celtic Symbolic Mandala Christmas OrnamentLearn More Aqua Purple Celtic Knot Christmas OrnamentLearn More Zodiac Sign Scorpio Christmas OrnamentLearn More Silver Music Treble Clef Snowflake OrnamentLearn More Red Glitter Christmas Music Heart Clef Snowflake OrnamentsLearn More Aqua Celtic Knot Snowflake Christmas OrnamentLearn More Mint Green Celtic Trinity Knot Christmas OrnamentLearn More Turquoise Celtic Knot Mandala Christmas OrnamentLearn More Celtic Knot Mandala Christmas OrnamentLearn More Yin-Yang Celtic Mandala Christmas OrnamentLearn More Joyful Holiday Trombone Player OrnamentLearn More Ballerina Ornament in Lavender Blue and GreenLearn More Golden Treble Clef on Colorful Holiday OrnamentLearn More Mint and Lavender Yin-Yang OrnamentLearn More Teal and Purple Metallic Celtic Knot OrnamentLearn More Lavender Celtic Mandala Mystic Symbols OrnamentLearn More Rainbow Cord Celtic Knot OrnamentLearn More Blue, Gold and Purple Celtic Mandala OrnamentLearn More

    Rural France shared a darling vintage photo mousepad featuring her grandmother. (I love this!) If you have a family photo you can also create your own personalized version.

    Custom Mugs in Favorite Themes are A Christmas Classic

    See more custom mugs here.

    Fun Cards suggested these cute scarves for the animal lover or activist

    Another great idea from Fun Cards for people who have to travel a lot, custom luggage tags:

    Luggage Tags
     Baseball Artwork Luggage TagSee Details Golf Bag TagSee Details Butterfly and FlowersSee Details Basketball Orange/Black Bag TagSee Details Awesome Blue Nebula Tag For BagsSee Details polar bear Luggage Tag with your infoSee Details Electric Green Tiger BrigadeSee Details Autumn MoonSee Details Steam Train Customizable Luggage TagSee Details Rainbow Lights Gold Stone Celtic Shield KnotSee Details CardinalSee Details Mahogany Bay Horse Pastel Tag For LuggageSee Details ViolinSee Details Peacock Feather Glittery Art Print Luggage TagSee Details Jade Green Metal Celtic KnotSee Details Mug of BeerSee Details Redwood Trees Luggage TagsSee Details Briliiant Red Sunset Under The Bonsai Tree Luggage TagSee Details Pink Bloom Bag TagSee Details Beautiful tiger face tags for bagsSee Details Indian Lily garden Bag TagSee Details Purple Heart Flower Tags For LuggageSee Details Red tulip and yellow flowers tags for luggageSee Details Purple Allium Luggage TagSee Details

    See more scarves and luggage tags.

    Valerie's Gallery suggested sweatshirts are a good gift for grandparents, and I know at least one Mom who'll be getting another this year. And of course pet lovers feel proud of their "kids" too.

    And when all else fails, everybody likes food. If only everyone liked the same food, huh? (Thankfully. no one mentioned fruitcake!) Check out the Custard Creme Shortbread Cookie Pillow from Pillows4u

    Hopefully, this has given you some ideas to help you finish up your shopping and get back to enjoying the holiday. Wishing everyone a great one! Don't forget to stop by our store UROCK! Design the World to check out many more custom gift ideas.