I love Christmas! The music, the decorations, the time spent with family… it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. If there’s snow, even better.
I love the giving nature of the season, too. As a kid, you enjoy getting presents for Christmas, because that’s all you know. As you mature, the joy of giving should quickly eclipse the joy of receiving. It’s what happens naturally as we start showing consideration for others.
Selecting the right gift for someone can be a challenge. Like any task or project, this challenge can be improved by keeping good notes. Here’s how you can set up a gift-giving reference file in Evernote that will make your Christmas (or birthday) shopping a breeze.
Create a separate note for each person (or couple) for whom you regularly purchase a gift. Use “Gift Ideas for (name)” for the title and tag it with “gift idea”. The tag serves two purposes: it makes it easy to search for all the gift ideas and you can tag random notes to have them show up, too. (I’ll do that if I find something that is so awesome I want to get it for someone but I don’t know who yet.)
In each note, create three sections.
Section 1: Recipient Profile
The first section is the recipient profile. This is where you can put reference information in case you need to check specifics or want to brainstorm. Include information like:
- What size clothes do they wear?
- What is their favorite color? Scent? Team?
- When is their birthday?
- What other interests and hobbies do they enjoy?
Armed with this information, you won’t be caught unprepared when it comes time to make a selection. Should I get the small or the medium? The lavender or the sage? Puppies or kittens? Yes, you probably know some of this off the top of your head, but you shouldn’t have to know it off the top of your head, and you’d be surprised how much you think you remember that you really don’t.
Section 2: Gift Ideas
When you have brilliant ideas for the perfect gift at the wrong time of year, don’t try to remember it. It won’t happen. Instead, write it down!
My favorite way to remember a gift for later is to bookmark the product page. Then, when it’s time to buy the gift, I’m just a click or two away from checking out.
You can capture the gift idea in a few words, like “fuzzy checkered wool scarf”. If you see a specific scarf they’d love, snap a picture! Evernote is flexible; capture anything you want that will help future you out.
In addition to gift ideas, try storing ideas for anti-gifts: things they have plenty of (or don’t like) and aren’t going to like.
Section 3: Gift History
Have you ever walked through the same gift-selection thought process and arrived at the perfect gift, only to find out you gave them the same gift last year? And the year before? It’s embarrassing.
In the third section, keep a list of what you have given them and when. You don’t want to give the same gift twice, but complementary gifts are fair game. You’re not only thoughtful but capable of executing a plan over several years.
You might also consider keeping a list of what they’ve given you. No matter how common your interests are, you don’t want to give them the same gift they gave you last year. Worst-case, it comes across as giving their gift back to them. (Though if it happens in the same year, it’s funny; it shows how much you understand each other.)
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. —Winston Churchill
If you’ve ever gone shopping for someone and thought, “I have no idea what to get them!”, you’re only halfway right. The truth is, you’ve had plenty of great ideas for what to get them. You just haven’t had the ideas at the right time. Treat gift ideas like any other idea you have: if you can’t act on it now, capture it in your trusted system to act on it later.
Giving gifts should be one of the most enjoyable things you do all year. It shouldn’t stress you out and ruin your holiday season! Take notes, give thoughtfully, and enjoy this act of service and love.