Gracious Gifting: A Checklist

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Maybe YOU already have all of your holiday shopping done? I know lots of people who pride themselves on wrapping it all up (pardon the pun!) before Thanksgiving. But, I must say, I love the bustle of shopping and choosing gifts in this special stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It really helps me get into the spirit.

So…I thought I would share with you a few of my personal rules of thumb for gift giving ANY time of year.


Give yourself a chance to meditate on the person for whom you’re choosing a gift. Think about the special moments you’ve shared, any special things about them you’re grateful for, etc. This will get you in the right attitude (as usual, one of GRATITUDE) for giving.

After focusing on them like this, think about what kinds of gifts would express your appreciation for them AND would be something beautiful or useful or meaningful TO THEM. Of course, you shouldn’t give a gift that you think is revolting or destructive or will bring negativity to them, even if it’s something in which they’ve expressed an interest. The emphasis on “to them” is all about separating a little bit from your own attachment to a gift and truly think about their tastes, needs, etc. After all, you’re not buying for yourself; but you are giving OF yourself. Let the gift communicate accordingly.


This is self-explanatory. Instead of showering a person with gifts they will sort-of like, use your entire budgeted allowance for a particular person on one or two items that they will TREASURE! The only exception I can think of to this is toddlers. They are mostly interested in wrapping paper and pretty ribbons, so wrap up every thing you can find for them and let them celebrate the holiday by tearing it all to shreds 🙂


When and how you give a gift can really turn-up the volume on the impact of the gift itself. A little bit of festivity goes a long way. Think of it…isn’t one of the most special things about Christmas morning (or even a birthday party) the ceremony surrounding the exchange of gifts?! If the person you’re giving a gift isn’t part of one of your usual holiday gatherings, make a point to give your gift over dinner or coffee, in the context of togetherness. It will add a bit of ceremony to the event.

If you’re sending a gift to a long-distance friend or family member, put some effort into timing your mailing date just right. And include a photo of yourself or your family for them to see when opening the gift! For those closest to your heart who might be far away, don’t underestimate the power of technology to connect you! Skype or Facetime or a phone call can bring you together as you give.

Packaging should be beautiful; it shows the recipient you took extra care with their gift, and…well…it’s pretty! And don’t we all love to receive pretty things? Even a brooding teenager has to struggle to hide excitement with a festive package in-hand! Maximize anticipation with presentation.



And now…a gift idea for YOU! If you are buying for a designer or a design professional this holiday season, why not give the gifts of knowledge, training, and inspiration?! Send someone you love to my January 8-10 session of Camp Tobi Fairley’s Designer MBA!

Designer MBA is a business education for design professionals. In it, I share the lessons I’ve learned as a business owner in the design industry. From fees to contracts to public relations, I’ll offer tools and strategies that can give the designers the confidence they need to professionalize their processes.

Happy gift giving! What tips are on YOUR checklist? Please share!




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3 Responses to Gracious Gifting: A Checklist

  1. Franki Parde says:

    My family loves the “wrapping” part … my daughter does poems (“ditties”) with each package, our daughter-in-law does diaramas that are amazing. It’s the thought that counts. franki

  2. So very true Tobi! The best gift I received was from my sister-in-law who arranged several months prior to Christmas to come to my house when I wasn’t there and she planted 100 tulips in my backyard around my trees. They bloomed in the Spring around my Birthday. She wrapped the bulb packages beautifully and explained what she had done. It made me cry because it was so thoughtful!

  3. Thanks for your blog, really exciting