4 ways to Christmas gift like a pro according to a psychologist

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It’s time to start making your list and checking it twice. Here’s how to boss your Christmas gift-giving, no matter who you have to buy for…

You may not think that gift-giving is much to worry about: a quick dash round the shops on 23 December and before you can say “jingle bells”, you’re kicking back with a celebratory glass of mulled wine.

But according to a Christmas survey carried out by Boots, it sounds like you might not be taking things seriously enough – because nearly a quarter of respondents said they started their festive shopping back in August.

And with a third of people surveyed describing themselves as ‘difficult to buy for’, you might want to start doing your homework now.

With that in mind, we asked psychologist Tijana Jokic to assess four of the best approaches to gifting. 

Here’s how you’re going to buy for even the trickiest people on your list…

  • 1. Playing it safe

    Christmas gift guide - practical gift ideas

    A tried-and-tested approach to gift-giving is to go practical: buy them something you know they already use and enjoy, such as a favourite perfume or beauty product.

    “Practical gifts are always a safe option,” says Tijana, “and while they aren’t particularly creative, they do demonstrate that you know the person’s everyday needs and desires.”

    “It’s a particularly good approach if you’re buying for somebody who’s pragmatic – they’ll really appreciate a gift that makes their life a little easier.”

    For practical gift inspiration, shop below…

  • 2. The element of surprise

    Christmas gift guide - surprising gifts

    Some 57% of people surveyed said that seeing the person’s face when opening their present is their favourite part of gifting.

    If you can surprise them with something they genuinely won’t be expecting, all the the better, right?

    Well yes, but according to Tijana, you might want to think about how your recipient deals with being put on the spot.

    “Some receivers will react positively to the excitement and thoughtfulness of the giver,” she explains, “but it can be a gamble.”

    “Some people are orderly and like predictability – they might feel uncomfortable about being expected to react in a certain way purely because of the surprise element.”

    “Surprise gifts will work best for your more creative, fun-loving and excitable friends.”

    Basically, don’t go completely rogue with somebody that finds the whole gifting thing a bit awkward, and you should be fine.

    For surprising gift inspiration, shop below…

  • 3. Cheap and cheerful

    Christmas gift guide - secret santa ideas

    It’s the dreaded situation: an office Secret Santa where you’ve drawn somebody you hardly know.

    According to Tijana, don’t worry too much about going deep cover to suss out all their likes and dislikes – pick something novelty and you can’t really go wrong.

    “Something fun and novel shows you were willing to take a risk in order to get closer to the receiver, even at the cost of making a mistake.”

    “This kind of gift can be a great ice-breaker for us, and a good way to bond with someone we’d like to become closer with.”

    For Secret Santa gift inspiration, shop below…

  • 4. All-out indulgence

    Christmas gift guide - luxury gift ideas

    When all else fails, going for something particularly luxurious is usually a fail-safe crowd-pleaser.

    Whether it’s a meal at a Michelin-star restaurant or a gift set of luxury beauty products, treating somebody to something they wouldn’t necessarily splash out on for themselves is a great way to make them feel special.

    The only thing you might want to consider is whether the person on the receiving end will be on the same page as you are…

    “You want to avoid the possibility of making someone feel inferior if the gift is something they wouldn’t be in a position to afford for themselves.”

    A good way to avoid this would be to tap back into the play-it-safe approach.

    Maybe your giftee has a liking for a certain luxury brand that they only use very occasionally? Now’s the perfect time to treat them to a top-up.

    “In that way, we take the focus away from the financial aspect of the gift, and shift it to its non-material value,” explains Tijana. Problem solved.

    For indulgent gift inspiration, shop below… 

For more festive inspiration Boots has got you covered, with a whole range of Christmas gifts for him and Christmas gifts for her. Consider your seasonal stress officially cancelled.