Wednesday, November 16th, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Gift-Giving Tips & Tricks

If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of giving a really fantastic gift, it’s know how amazing it can be.  It’s so fulfilling and satisfying to know you picked just the right thing for that one special person.  Similarly, when you receive a gift that’s exactly what you wanted/needed, you get a sense of how much thought the giver put into the gift.  It seemed like several readers struggled trying to figure out what kind of gifts to give friends and family when it came to beauty, particularly because they weren’t sure what colors to choose.  I thought I would touch on some tips born from past experience on that particular issue as well as some more generalized tips and tricks when it comes to the art of great gift giving.

Little Touches Count

The little things can add tremendous value and appeal to your gift. Think about when someone takes an amazing gift but throws it into a paper bag at the last minute; or how about the time you totally forgot to grab a card and just shoved a gift in someone’s face?  Fancy wrapping or expensive greeting cards are by no means necessary to a great gift, but remembering to take as much time in the presentation of the gift as you did in the acquisition of it is important. You can also keep an eye out for gifts that already come in festive packaging or bags.

I do, personally, splurge on fancier gift wrap, because I have a thing for Christmas decor and like to see lots of shine and color under the tree.  Holidays come earlier and earlier each year, so you can find great bargains on wrapping paper at local discount stores as well as online.  You can also stock up right after the holidays for the next year if you have some storage space!  I also like festive ribbons for smaller gifts or awkward-to-wrap gifts.   I often make my own cards to attach to gifts with colored card stock and simply scrawl a short and sweet note to the recipient.

It’s Not About the Money

I cannot emphasize it enough, but it is the thought that really counts, especially when you’re not gifting to a five-year-old who’s been dreaming of the latest gaming system for the past 364 days.  But in all seriousness, the majority of people, and hopefully, your dearest friends and family, are not googling what you bought them to see how much you spent on them.  Your best friend who is the girliest girl you can imagine doesn’t want to receive a weed wacker for the holidays, and it’s just important to know your recipient and find a gift that would resonate with them.  Don’t get caught up in the idea that more is better or that bigger is better!  Keep gift ideas in mind all year round, even pricier ones (that are just outside your budget), because if you know your partner has their eye on such-and-such electronic, you can keep an eye out for price drops towards the second half of the year.

Sales, Sales, Sales

Stemming from looking out for deals on must-give gifts much earlier than the last two months of the year is taking advantage of sales, but I will caution you not to let them take advantage of you!  Just because there’s a sale doesn’t mean you have to find something for someone there.  November is the time for Friends & Family sales and events, several having already taken place, but there are more to come.  Similarly, the infamous Black Friday is nearing (along with Cyber Monday), which can be a good opportunity to take advantage of sales.

Use Social Media and Networking

So much of our lives are now online, from the photos and videos of our lives to our favorite interests.  Many people have their favorite social networking sites that they use, and you can learn more about their various interests from a profile.  I’m totally serious here!  Sometimes you bond with someone over certain common interests (say, beauty), but you might not know their favorite music or movies.  If you have friends or family members who are really active, you might be able to see what kind of things they’ve liked in the past couple of months to help give you an idea of where to start your search from!

Gift Guides from Everyone

Almost everyone has some sort of gift guide these days, and I don’t mean bloggers but major retailers and individual brands.  Most of them have a section on their website for gift sets/value sets as well as gift guides broken out by price or “personality.”   Perhaps you have a favorite brand you want a friend to experience or you know your friend’s favorite brand but you’ve never used anything by them; either way, you can peruse through recommendations from the brand as a great jumping off point.

5-Minute Primer on Beauty Products for Others

You have your beauty partner in crime, but you’re just not confident about buying them something because you don’t know if they’ll good in it or if it’s a shade they’d like.   There are fantastic items that are more neutral and general that work across skin tones and undertones, but there are certainly plenty of products that just tend to look better on a certain skin tone/undertone.

  • Stealthily get a grasp on their skin tone:  if your friend wears a bracelet or watch, you can try to get a look at the underside of their wrist/forearm by asking to see their bracelet/watch close-up.  Green veins indicate warmer undertones, while blue veins indicate cooler undertones; if you can’t really tell, they may be neutral.  You can also use the jewelry trick; does your friend wear a lot of gold or silver jewelry?  Is there one they look better in?  Gold looks better on warmer skin tones, while silver looks better on cooler skin tones–but be careful, a lot of people prefer a metal over the other, regardless of their undertone!
  • Think about the colors/styles/products you see them in most:  if you’ve never seen your friend wear red lipstick and only baby pinks and barely-there nudes, buying them a red isn’t necessarily the best way to go (unless you’re deliberately prodding them to finally wear one and you know the perfect one for them!).  Do they wear bold eyes? cheeks? lips? What feature do they emphasize?
  • Something old or something new?  Consider whether you’re trying to simply buy them something they would love to wear, which means it is likely to be similar to other shades they already own (so go see if you can snoop through their makeup bag!) or if you’re trying to get them to try something they wouldn’t normally wear (perhaps something they’ve been curious about).
  • Warm undertones look best in shades like earthy neutrals, coppers and bronzes, yellowy greens, metallic golds, corals, oranges, and yellow-based pinks.  I believe anyone can wear anything–it’s just a matter of pairing it with the right products; this is merely a quickie guideline to pick the most-likely-to-suit products.
  • Cool undertones look best in shades like sooty neutrals, beiges and taupes, charcoal browns and grays, blues, blue-based teals, blue-based reds, fuchsia pinks, berries, cotton candy pinks.  Again, this is a mere snapshot of common colors that often work well on those with cooler complexions but you should feel free to wear whatever you like!

 Share your gift-giving tips & tricks in the comments!

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9 thoughts on “Holiday Gift Guide: Gift-Giving Tips & Tricks

  1. Avatar of Ana Ana G.

    Such great advices Christine!Thank you..they will be very helpful!

  2. Laura R

    Thanks for writing all these gifts guides, Christine, especially this one! I love finding the perfect gift for people, but it’s often hit-or-miss for me, and few of my friends love makeup as much as I do, so when shopping for them I often give something beauty-related in addition to the main gift item, just as a little bonus.

    These suggestions are excellent!

  3. Ashley

    Christine, will Mac ever have a F&F sale?:(

  4. Judey N

    I really like using online wishlists. No, the gift recipient won’t be totally surprised, but it does have some element of surprise (not knowing which gifts you will get), plus you already know that they will be happy to receive that gift. For example, my mom and I get gifts for each other each Christmas from our Sephora wishlists.

  5. Hi, those are some really smart tips for someone looking for gifts. I never really put so much thought in it before. Now I know what to get for my cousin this holiday. Thanks for the tips! :)