Kitty Lemieux’s Guide to Great Gift-Giving

As kids, we waited all year for Christmas morning. Presents! We were easy to please, excited by anything new and shiny. As adults, our enthusiasm is tougher to provoke. So, what can you do to ensure that your generosity results in more than an obligatory, hollow “thank-you?” Keep these tips in mind when venturing to pick the perfect present.


What Makes a Great Gift?

In a few words, truly great gift-giving is:

  • Thoughtful
  • Personal
  • An expression of investment

It really is the thought that counts, so think intimately.

The best way to give a gift that communicates “I care about you” is to give one that demonstrates “I know you.” An extraordinary gift shows that you get the person, that you pay close attention to their interests, obsessions, and preferences. Practical items are just that—practical (and forgettable). Don’t give someone what they need; give them what they want (or perhaps don’t even know they want!).

The best gifts are carefully curated by the giver and, yes, smiles are awarded for originality. They need not be expensive, but they involve an investment of time and energy. They say, “I used my intimate knowledge of what pleases you and put significant thought, time and effort into selecting or creating this specific thing.”

Wrap it. Wrap it good.

Unwrapping is a crucial part of the gifting experience. Colorful paper folded into crisp edges, a big beautiful bow—these are the images we picture in our minds when we think “gift.” For this reason, I prefer the visual impact of a box covered in paper, topped with a hand-tied bow over a bag stuffed with tissue. When appropriate, I’ll remove ugly pre-packaging in favor of a totally different presentation (think about, say, various items presented in a gorgeous, overflowing basket versus a bunch of separate, plastic-coated pieces).

Whatever the style, go the extra mile and give it your own unique touch. A handsomely packaged gift increases the anticipation and adds pleasure to the ceremony of slowly unwrapping it.

Always include a handwritten note.

Don’t just sign your name on a store-bought card. Please, please don’t. Not only is it impersonal, but it’s a huge missed opportunity. In a digital world full of text messages and emails, handwritten notes get rarer by the day. Drafting one takes time and consideration —it’s a brilliant reminder to the recipient that you value your relationship.

I’m a big believer in handwritten notes for all occasions and, for that matter, no occasion at all. But, when it comes to gift-giving, they’re an absolute must. I completely avoid the pitfalls of the generic Hallmark route by buying pretty blank cards. That way, the message is 100% personalized. A skillfully crafted, sincere message has the potential to be more meaningful and memorable than the gift itself. Aim to give a card that will make its way to the shoebox or the mantle, not the trashcan.

Gift-giving should be an exercise in love that brings joy to both the giver and the recipient. When it’s done right, it can be one of the most rewarding exchanges two people can experience. Be thoughtful, be generous and take the time to make your special someone feel cherished. A little wholehearted effort goes a long way.

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