As a former professional organizer, it was common to see an over-abundance of stuff in people’s homes. Something that always surprised me though was all of the wasted gifts that I saw over the years. I can remember a junk drawer full of gift cards given to someone who didn’t value them, or a closet full of cheap trinkets that were reserved to give anyone and everyone when the occasion would arise. One year in July while working with a client I noticed unopened gifts under her kitchen table. When I asked her about them she said, “I got those for Christmas and never opened them because I don’t need anything else.” 

For years I have felt that people either have the skill of good gift giving or they don’t. However, now I realize that if you’re willing, you can learn it. The most important step in becoming a good gift-giver is to practice active listening. When you hear someone close to you say what they want, need or like, consider writing it down so you can remember and be intentional about your purchases for them. 

Remember that not every gift has to be tangible. Treat a friend to a dinner out or give your kids a zoo or museum pass. Pay for music lessons for your sister who has always wanted to learn guitar. Get your spouse’s car detailed. Consider what the people in your life appreciate and value. 

When my daughter was five years old she received a Christmas gift, looked at me, and asked, “Can I return this?” I told her she could but she would have to do it herself. I remember watching her walk up to the counter, hand the gift and receipt to the cashier and the biggest smile came across her face when she was handed money in exchange. I loved watching her learn independence and knew she was getting exactly what she wanted! 

We never want to make people feel bad if they want to exchange or return something. The point of giving a gift is to bless someone with something they need, want, or love. I challenge you to start actively listening to the people you care about and be a great gift giver this holiday season!