Gift Notebook

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For most, the tough part about gift giving is figuring out what to get someone. While some people are easy to buy gifts for, many are not. Getting a little background information on the recipient and keeping it organized is the secret to finding good gift ideas for the hard to buy for. This is where a gift notebook can come in handy.

[edit] What is a Gift Notebook?

A gift notebook is as simple as a it sounds. It's a normal notebook dedicated for keeping notes on people you usually buy gifts for. Each gift recipient has their own page in the notebook. Throughout the year, as you discover the little tidbits on what they like, dislike, and need, you simply add the info to their page in the notebook. When it comes time to get them a gift, turn to their page and you'll likely have a few good ideas.

[edit] Making Your Gift Notebook

Below are some recommendations for starting a gift notebook...

  1. Get a notebook, or 3-ring binder, that will be used exclusively for gift giving
  2. Write "Gift Notebook" on the front
  3. Dedicated one page front & back for each recipient
    • Write the recipients name on the top of the page
    • Make a top section for recipient info (about 3 lines)
    • Make a bottom section to keep track of gifts they've given you (about 5 lines, draw vertical lines to break this section into 3 columns)
    • Draw vertical lines in the middle section to break it into 4 equal columns
    • Label the top of the four columns from left to right as Likes, Dislikes, Ideas/Needs, Past Gifts
    • Leave the back of each recipient page blank for additional space as needed

[edit] Using Your Gift Notebook

First off, decide on a convenient place to keep your gift notebook. It should be easily accessed and not misplaced. Whenever you get an idea or some new info on one of your gift recipients, add it to their page. When your notebook is new, try to set aside one day a month to review it and add something to each of your recipient pages. After you give someone a gift and get their impression, do the same. Over time, you'll create a great resource that will not only save you time, but will help to make you a gift giving champ!

The following sections share some thoughts on using your gift notebook to get the most out of it...

[edit] Recipient Info

This section will help you in remembering important gift giving dates and contains general information that help you in choosing good gifts. Items in this section should include...

  • Important dates: birthday, anniversary, religion (so you'll know what holidays they do/don't celebrate), etc.
  • Sizes: shirts, pants, shoes, ring, etc. (skip, if just a casual acquaintance)
  • Background Info: relationship/family status, their occupation, university attended, originally from
  • Websites: links to any gift registries they have, personal blogs or Twitter, Facebook profile

[edit] Likes


The best gift ideas either express a sentiment, or are personally chosen with the recipient in mind. The recipient info section above provides background as a helpful starting point. Knowing more about their hobbies, interests, and favorite activities is a great way to come up with creative ideas. Use this section to keep track of what they like. Below, are some common items to include...

  • favorite colors
  • movies/TV shows
  • decor styles
  • sports teams
  • pets/favorite animals
  • hobbies
  • favorite foods & beverages
  • favorite brands
  • political disposition
  • favorite causes -- eco-friendly, charities, etc.
  • types of gifts they typically like -- humorous, sentimental, practical
NOTE: Be careful with people who have serious hobbies. Many experienced hobbyists are usually pretty geared-up and can be quite particular about their accessories. In these cases, it's usually best to stay away from the gear and lean more toward the novelty items that celebrate their hobby.
EXAMPLE: For a friend who is really big into photography, you may want to avoid getting them a lens, bag or tripod unless you know that they desire that particular item and model. Most likely, you'd be better off getting them a calendar featuring great photographs, or a "World's Greatest Photographer" t-shirt, cap or coffee mug.

[edit] Dislikes

This section is just as important as the likes section. Making note of things like them not drinking alcohol, or not liking sports will help you in avoiding gift mistakes. Listing gift types to avoid in this section is also very helpful. For instance, some people are very brand conscious and wouldn't want a knock-off or a competitor's brand. Similarly, some people consider tchotchkes, or novelty gifts, a waste of money. Allergies to foods, fibers and metals should also be added when known.

[edit] Ideas/Needs

This is where being alert pays off. If you know someone pretty well, over time you'll pick-up on things they could use. To go even further, use your inner-detective and ask their spouse, kids or friends for things they've had their eye on, or have been talking about. When you visit them, be on the lookout for things they need. These items may not necessarily fall into the likes column, but if they need a new step stool, it will still be an appreciated gift.

[edit] Past Gifts

Part of good gift giving is variety. Even if someone loves cashews, you don't want to get that for them every time. The predictability can make it look like you aren't putting thought into their gift. Keeping track of the gifts you've given and the date, will help you to remember when it's okay to repeat a gift type you haven't done in awhile. It can also remind you of gifts they've really liked and provide related ideas. Additionally, when you visit them, you'll be able to recognize the item and remember that it was a gift from you.

[edit] Gifts They've Given You

This is good to do from two perspectives. One, it'll help you be a better recipient. When they come over, you can make a point of using the glassware or wearing the outfit they gave you. Or, reminding you to make note of the gift in your house and letting them know how much you like it. Two, it can help guide your gift purchases in amount and frequency. Gift giving should not be tit-for-tat, though, it can help to keep you from significantly over or under-gifting. When adding notes to this section, include the date or occasion along with the gift to provide a better reference.

[edit] Related Guides