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Getting the perfect present for that somebody on our list is not as hard as it may seem but of course we should always take in to consideration that perfection takes on a different meaning in everybody’s mind. For instance there are those whose love for winter sports make them the perfect candidates to receive a lovely new pair of skis or poles however if I be the case then this would be the furthest thing from my desires as I do solemnly detest anything that may have the slightest connection with winter sports. This I say not with intension of offending those who ski or even winter sports as it maybe my foolishness that prevents me from enjoying them but with the aim of giving an example of how “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Naturally this philosophy may also be applied to the female gender not only the males because in short what is perfect for one will not by necessity be perfect for another.

Once we have accepted this simple truth it is then that we can proceed by taking another factor in to consideration when getting that specific someone the perfect gift and this being. that the present we are giving is not to ourselves but to another person. It is this fact rather then opinion that should allow us to understand that it is not important for us to like the present but for the future receiver. For instance the fact that we do not like or wear ties should not dissuade us from getting a tie for someone we know does like ties any more then the fact that some of us may like opera should not propel us to give opera CDs or DVDs to someone we know does not like opera. Naturally with some presents such as clothes we can not avoid using our own taste may it be good or may it be bad and then again there are those who tell us in so much detail (for instance a bottle of “Kenzo” “Jungle” 100 ml or “Star Wars 3” on DVD) that we need not fret.

Some people worry weather or not taking the direct approach is appropriate. The direct approach being the one in which we ask the person what is his or her heart’s desire. To this concern I reply that since the present is to be not for ourselves but for that person then we should ask if there is anything specific that person wants or perhaps needs. This makes shopping more efficient though some may say this rules out the element of surprise which is a lovely one but a risky one for we may end up buying some one who does not smoke a very exclusive pipe or a book in a language that person does not speak. I do not rule out surprises but we should go about it with caution when we attempt to pull one off for this may backfire on us if we end up spending a lot of money on a present that receiver will have no use or liking for.

When we ask there are those who may say that what ever we choose is fine or that they wish to get what their eyes see when they close them. It is these people who are the most difficult or perhaps the easiest because they by virtue of having held their peace when asked forfeited their right to complain if they do not get something that is to their liking. With concern to what to get these people then I suggest getting them anything but not for the sake of satisfying them but for the sake of satisfying the need in ourselves to be generous and to give. For if the present pleases not the receiver may the act of giving bring joy to the bearer after all “tis the season”.

We should always remember that a gift maybe practical but does not need to be fore if practicality were the sole issue then all would be made simpler as we could just get our loved ones some roles of toilet paper and have it done with. After all it is this kind of paper which is useful to all living human beings but who in truth wishes to get even 100 roles of toilet paper for Christmas. When I say a present need not be useful this should not to be interpreted that it can not be as a present might be both useful as well as decorative. For instance sweaters are both useful as most people wear them specially in cold countries and are not difficult to get in the right size as they mostly come in Small, medium or large. Of coarse a present has the right to be completely without practical use for instance a bottle of Champagne which in the event the receiver does not drink he or she may always serve to his friends who do or simply pass this present on to others. Let’s not forget that we give presents to others for them to do with them as they see fit.

As an additional word of advice I would like to add that if we are giving ornaments for the house such as paintings or other items of the sort we should be sure that they are to the person in question’s taste because if they are not then that person might be left in an awkward position of having to display in his or her home what that person does not like.

There are many strategies to follow when buying Christmas presents but mine (which is presented in part in my book “New York’s Opera Society”) is the following:
1) Make out a list of all those we wish to make happy with our presents.
This may not be necessary for those whose list only includes a very small number of people but for those who have more to give to it is a way of not forgetting not only those we have to get something for but even those we do not have but should get something for.
2) Next to each name put down two figures, one a minimum and the other a maximum of how much our budget or generosity will allow us to spend. This might be a good idea for those of us who shall we say only posses the kind spirit to give Ferraris, diamonds, Rolexes and such lovely presents but not the unlimited funds that being so generous requires.
3) Decide based on the amount of capital pledged weather to get that person one present or more. In some cases it may be nicer to give more then one present even if they be more humble for the physiological reason of allowing that special someone (effect might be greater on a child) to see more gift paper wrapped boxes under the tree. The sight of many bejeweled boxes is to my way of seeing things the true spirit of Christmas as it not only represents beauty but the spirit of giving and sharing with those who are dear to us.
4) Learn about the person whom we are trying to buy a present for if we are not already familiar with that person by this I mean find out what does the person on our list like. What hobbies if any does this person have so that we might get them something related. For instance if we know a person likes a certain kind of alcoholic beverage that would be an idea.
5) Of course asking perhaps eliminates the surprise factor but can also serve as a method that would avoid us getting somebody a present they may like but already have. For example what use would it be to anybody to have two copies of the same film on DVD, naturally there are those items where this would not matter like having two bottles of “Absolute” vodka for we could empty one first before starting on the second.
6) With children then the wise man’s or woman’s approach would be to ask the parents’ of the child if they are not us not only what would make content the child’s heart but what we can get them so the child will not get two of the same computer game or doll, making it seem as if Santa had committed an error.
7) A method a gentleman or lady might use to get a perfume or any other such item that requires knowledge of the person’s taste is by telling the person whom they intend to give to that they are looking for a perfume for another person. For instance a man could tell his girlfriend he is seeking to buy a perfume for his sister or a female cousin and needs advise on what perfume to get. Naturally his girlfriend will mention the name of the perfume she likes and by doing so tell what perfume she herself would like to get. This making it easy for her boyfriend to know what perfume to get her while still keeping the element of revelation.
8) Last but not least we should remember that the aim of giving presents is to let someone know they are special to us. This concept is simple in theory but is often forgotten as people in their attempt to impress a certain someone loose sight of the idea that it is the thought that counts.

As a final word I might add to those who feel guilty about receiving what they themselves would classify as overly expensive presents that if a person of his or her own free will is able to give something that is exclusive then why for any logical reason should the receiver hold feelings of culpability. The reason for my believe is that Christmas is a season for giving but for giving to take place somebody has to receive and if a person gives whose large funds should match his large heart then why should another be ashamed to let that person give. Should not being able to match the presents we receive dollar for dollar because our financial position does not allow us to do so prevent us from accepting costly presents? I claim for myself and those who care to heed my counsel that it should not fore those who give should do so only with intension of pleasing the spirit of giving and nothing more.

However to those whose feelings of guilt go beyond all reason then I suggest to them not to return that Ferrari, Rolex watch, diamond necklace or those 2 million dollars worth of shares in Microsoft as this will surely offend the giver beyond measure. To them my recommendation is to pass on their feelings of guilt on to me for I by taking these items will relieve them of the ill feelings that taking them would have brought upon them.

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