Gift Giving Advice

Who Are You Shopping For?

My father is very hard to shop for, or so I’ve always thought.

Whether it’s Christmas, Father’s Day or his Birthday, he always has the same answer when we ask what he wants: “Socks or money”. His request gets a similar response: “That’s what you always want! There must be something else I could get you besides socks and money.” Then we pester him for more ideas, and suggest some of our own: “How about a new shirt, do you need a new shirt?”. He never does give more ideas when we question him, so we take it upon ourselves to figure out some other things to get him…besides sock and money.

You see, socks and money just aren’t very fun, or creative, things to give as a gift. Especially for females (he has three daughters) who love to shop and pick out the perfect gift that will surprise, yet thrill the receiver. Digging a couple bills out of one’s wallet and placing them in a card isn’t exciting. So, we get him shirts, or something related to his favorite sport, or various edible items such as peanuts and chocolate. On occasion we fulfill his simple request, but it is more of a last resort. Every year the three girls get a kick out of sharing our “shopping for dad” frustrations with each other.

There is a point to this tale. I recently had a lightbulb moment: maybe my father isn’t so difficult to shop for after all. Putting aside my own feelings about how boring socks and money are to give and receive, how much easier can it get to shop for someone? The man truly does love to receive those two gifts. His face lights up in delight when someone hands him nothing more than an envelope, he knows immediately what it will contain. And he is always pleasantly surprised, and appreciative, when he opens a package of new black socks.

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I think we are all too busy trying to give him gifts WE WANT TO GIVE, instead of gifts HE WANTS. Our intentions are truly not selfish, we just can’t fathom such a gift request. Have you ever known a woman who wanted a pair of socks for her birthday?

Do you have someone like my father on your shopping list? Maybe it’s time to take another perspective on the situation and ask yourself: “Am I getting him/her something I want to give, or something he/she wants to receive?”. Since my lightbulb moment, Dad has become the easiest person to shop for, not the most exciting, but definitely the easiest.

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Sara Reed

Sara Reed is the founder of

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