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During the first week of October, I send a "gift ideas" list to every person for whom I'll be buying a gift all year long (not just at Christmas). They have a month to get the completed list back to me. The list has 25 categories: favorite hobby, favorite junk food, favorite author, favorite sport, favorite perfume or cologne, thing I'd love to have but would never buy for myself, etc. Some of the answers are soooo funny (and the sender KNOWS he/she will never get that new Corvette or a Hawaiian vacation from me!).
It really helps me to get to know my friends and relatives better, and they have no idea what gift they'll get - or when! I've kept the lists for several years now, and it's really neat to see how tastes and preferences have changed.
By Caseye from Plano, TX
I used to "make a mental note " after uncovering someone's likes or wishes for future gift giving, which then evolved into a notebook filled with names and ideas. That worked great, but now to prevent this info from being discovered by the giftee, I created a running email to myself, always ready for editing by adding, deleting, or making changes! It's always at the ready, no matter where I am! Plus you can print out your email and use it as a shopping list at Christmas also!
By Trisha from Ventura, CA
I keep a file on my computer in "my documents" for gift ideas. Whenever I run across a particular idea for a handmade gift or a basket gift or even something to buy for a gift, I will save the picture and write beside it my thoughts. Whenever someone's birthday or a holiday is close I go to my gift document and look for inspiration. Often I "pin" something on my doc especially good for a particular friend or family member.
If it is something to make I also make sure that the label next to the "pin" is the same name of the doc I label, with instructions for making it along with ideas for how to give it and to whom. This often inspires me to make a gift that is more thoughtful for each person. You could also "pin" this onto a special Pinterest page. It works for me!