Stephanie Moum




Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty good gift giver. I know many people who would not make that claim, always at a loss for what to get for their friends and family when the holiday season rolls around. While most people will be happy with whatever you give them, the best gift is the one that shows you care. In "Secret Santa," episode 8 of season four of 30 Rock, Jack says to Liz that "gift giving is the purest expression of friendship. I'm going to think about what I know and like about you, and that will lead me to the perfect gift. And you do the same." He winds up giving her a script of a play she acted in as a child, "The Gender-Blind Crucible" framed in the wood of her old school's stage. While you may not want to go to the lengths these two went to in the episode, here are a few steps you can take to master the art of gift giving.

1. Pay attention to their social media

I can think of no better tool than social media to ascertain what your friends and family want this holiday season. The best part is, they probably won't put it on their Christmas list, so it will be a total surprise. When my sister shared a video of how carved candles are made on Facebook, I knew that's what I wanted to give her for her birthday. While I didn't have the skills to make one myself, I ordered a professionally made one online.

2. Web stores are your friend

The great thing about online shopping is that you'll be able to find something that the recipient can't get locally. With the internet being as vast as it is, these websites can help you pick a gift that's unique. Wish is one of my favorite apps for buying gifts. They've got some killer deals and you can easily find a nifty gift for under $10. Be careful, though -- depending on the vendor, you may not get exactly what you expected. It can take up to a month for the package to get to you if you're ordering from overseas, so now is the time to start looking. For faster shipping and a personalized, higher-end gift, try Etsy. Right now they have a featured page on their website for gift ideas. The best part about buying your gift online? You'll have a box ready to be wrapped when it gets to you.

3. Remember old conversations

People talk about what they want more than you might realize. Have they mentioned wanting to take painting lessons? Buy them a certificate for a class. Have they been complaining about their favorite sweater getting worn out? Buy them a gift certificate to their favorite clothing store. My boyfriend had been using the kitchen island as a computer desk for months while he was keeping an eye out for the perfect replacement. He found a desk that fit the bill, but it was just barely out of his price range. So when his birthday came around in October, I bought it for him.

4. Avoid clothing and shoes

According to, 62 percent of returned gifts are clothing items and shoes. There are just some things that people prefer to buy for themselves, and clothing is one of them. Things like music, cosmetics, and personal electronics tend to be more personal purchases as well. And for goodness sake, do not buy your spouse a car for Christmas unless they specifically told you they wanted that particular car.

5. When all else fails, go for something disposable

While a little trinket might be fun to find in your stocking on Christmas day, don't buy something that's just going to take up storage space. No one likes having to decide whether or not to throw away a Christmas gift during spring cleaning. Gift cards, candy, and smell-goods are all good stocking stuffers. However, keep in mind that disposable gifts are better for an acquaintance or coworker than someone close to you.

Stephanie Moum is an aspiring journalist interested in a variety of different subjects. Her hobbies include aquarium keeping, gardening, crafts and a disproportionate amount of media consumption.