How to Give a Gift

Make your thoughts count by dressing up a gift.

By Ferris Jabr, published on November 1, 2008 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Birthdays, weddings, the holiday season—or even a simple get-together: Occasions for giving gifts abound. PT talked with two experts on the subject: Sherri Athay, the founder and president of Present Perfect Gift Consultants and, and Alison Deyette, a lifestyle expert and founder of


"If you are planning to buy a gift that fits with the recipient's field of expertise, be extra careful," Deyette says. Don't buy a camera for your photo-buff buddy without doing some research. Read product reviews, talk to the experts at the store, or just ask him what he wants.

Presenting the Present

Creativity is "a great way to make gifts more memorable," says Athay. Deyette concurs: "Don't just give the bouquet of flowers in its original wrapping—buy an inexpensive vase. Dress up that bottle of wine! Add a message to the cake!"

Bon Voyage

What about experiential gifts, like trips? "If the experience is custom-tailored to—and enjoyed by—the recipient, it will be remembered and reflected on for years to come," Deyette says. "If the experience is shared by the giver and recipient, it brings them closer. And these gifts don't require storage or maintenance."

The Quick Fix

Gift cards are convenient and ubiquitous. But are they good gifts? "They are a safe choice if you are completely flummoxed," says Deyette, "but make sure the recipient will actually use it. And always throw in something else."