Just in time for the holidays.

There’s nothing greater than giving or receiving an awesome gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that’s well chosen and fits the life, style and needs of its recipient. Chances are, you know most people in your life well enough to pick something that they’ll love, cherish and use for years. Or, you’ll ask what they might like before shopping and gifting.

But, there are ways to select gift items without any tips or ideas from whoever is on your list, including co-workers, in-laws and others who you may not know very closely. Here’s how:

  1. Do Some Homework. Everybody leaves plenty of clues about who they are, what they like, and what their life is like. Think about what colors are in their home, what kind of furniture they have, if they’re a parent, or a student, and other details. If it’s a coworker, take a look around his or her desk, or watch their comings and goings for a few days to see what bag they bring to work, if they use a notebook, drink coffee, etc. Give a little thought or a quick look to your gift recipient’s world before you shop, and you’ll likely find something that’s perfect for them.
  2. Shop Well. Buying a really good gift doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. You also don’t need to resort to the default inexpensive options that litter stores and shops, particularly during the holidays. Set a budget you want to spend and take some time to scout stores online before you visit offline, or make a purchase. It’ll broaden your options for gift items within your budget, and give you a chance to really give thought to what you’re giving. Online shopping can have its perks — you can find a lot of good discounts and deals without leaving your house, and most sites offer free shipping and free returns/exchanges.
  3. Look Beyond The Traditional. Traditional gifts like coffee mugs or food baskets can work, but with online shopping there is endless access to ideas. Get creative with what you gift — a cozy throw blanket or a chic tray for the home or desk can be so much more useful and appreciated than the usual go-to gift favorites. You can also find a ton of great options within whatever budget you want to spend. Try to think about what people will actually use. It’s better to give a gift if you’re completely unsure than to give something that might end up in the back of a closet or in a landfill later.

Get more lifestyle tips, ideas and more in this month’s edition of Condiment magazine here

Originally published at medium.com