1. Everyone wants their desires met.
This is the biggest no-brainer gift idea that all the brainiacs in research labs find again and again in their studies:
The best gift is whatever they ask for.
So act like Santa: Ask your giftee what they want and give it to them.
And if your recipient annoyingly doesn't know what they want, try asking them in different ways like:
- Have you done anything recently that you really enjoyed?
- What goals, projects, plans do you have for the year ahead?
2. Everyone wants fewer problems.
Another question to consider asking your recipient is this:
- What’s been annoying you recently, or are you not looking forward to?
Or don't ask and, just this once, actually listen to them when they're complaining.
Maybe they suffer from too much on their plate, something that's broken or not working right, not enough time, boredom, or loneliness.
Whatever their problem—and we all have them—give them something that addresses it.
3. Everyone wants to be more effective.
To give you a sneak peek into another future Consider This, Heidi Grant writes in her book Reinforcements:
"More than pleasure, or pain avoidance, people seek to be effective."
So ask yourself,
What can I give to [XYZ] to make them more effective at something they do?
My top recommendation:
Find and hire an expert.
For example, for Christmas a couple of years ago, Kim reached out to a local masseuse to give us private lessons on how to give each other better massages. (Here's what we learned.)
4. Everyone wants more meaning.
When it comes to meaningful gifts, the keyword is this:
Because the novelty of any new item always wears off eventually, but sentimentality never does.
So consider making even an otherwise mediocre gift, like socks, meaningful by:
- Personalizing it with their name, initials, logo, or whatever.
- Attaching a story to it. Maybe the way you wrap it, or by including a touching note.
- Capturing a moment.
For more examples, plus a final tip for guaranteeing your gift strengthens your relationship with your recipient even if it doesn't make them happy, check out: