Have you ever opened a gift that reminded you of that old phrase, “It’s the thought that counts”? Ever notice that you say that about the gifts that aren’t as thoughtful?

This time of year we’re all looking for perfect, memorable packages. Putting thought into gifts shows people that we care about them, but when selecting thoughtful gifts, it’s not just the thought that counts. Listening, looking, feeling, and remembering also help us to give that perfect present. Today we’re sharing some gift selection tips gathered from our Facebook friends to help you choose thoughtful gifts.


When we’re putting together gift ideas, many of us take the straightforward approach. “Sometimes it’s best just to ask,” says Patricia Robbins of Sea Blossom. Many people (most children included) will even offer unsolicited suggestions. But with others, gift ideas may be more subtle. Shannon Spiliotis of Spiliotis Events says, “It’s about really listening when people speak. Many times they will give you the answer without even knowing it.”

Listen for new hobbies, interests, and favorites: authors, foods, and clothing trends. Something as simple as a favorite quote can be incorporated into gifts like jewelry and other handmade products at Etsy or Artfire.

Hand Stamped Aluminum Bracelet – photo © chasingatstarlight 2013

Michelle Gilbert, owner of Sarva Soap Co., goes a step further. “I listen to what they talk about and connect dots. I try to find something that connects two or more of their passions and maybe puts a new spin on them. For example, I know an avid birdwatcher who keeps talking about wanting to meditate but just can’t seem to make it happen. So I found books about how to make birdwatching a meditative practice.”

The Takeaway: Start to listen for gift inspiration in everyday conversations.


Clues to your loved ones’ interests are all around them. From the décor in their homes to their personal style, your family and friends are already sharing their preferences through the items that surround them. Make sure to take note of what isn’t there, too. Elizabeth S. confides that her friends give her houseplants even though she doesn’t have them in her home and doesn’t want them. “I don’t have a green thumb,” she explains. “Had my local friends taken a moment to look around my place, they might have realized there were no plants.”

Something as simple as choosing silver jewelry instead of gold is another common gift-giving blunder, easy to avoid by being observant, Elizabeth notes. Gifts of neckties and scarves, sweater vests and slippers are all appropriate (and appreciated) if the recipient actually likes to wear them. Not sure what color or pattern to choose? When in doubt, just look around.

The Takeaway: People surround themselves with things they love. Look at what they already have when seeking gift inspiration.


Remember New Year’s Eve 1999 with your best friend? How about the sand and surf at your family’s camp when you were seven? Your memories of special times with loved ones provide many ideas for thoughtful gifts.

Map Pendant by Maine Days Designs

If your memories are related to a place, why not incorporate a map in the gift? Map jewelry lets your friend carry that place around with them everywhere they go. Souvenirs from a family vacation become more than mementos when paired with your personal remembrances of that time. And of course photos can be used creatively to remind people of your shared experiences. Include details specific to the two of you to create a personalized, meaningful gift that they will treasure.

The Takeaway: The simplest items can trigger happy memories of shared experiences. Keep an eye out for keepsakes and write down those important details to share in gifts for years to come.


I like to bake holiday gifts, but lots of my family and friends have made lifestyle and diet changes, so I’m feeling that I’ll need to change my plans this year. My friend Joanne S. has the right idea: “I try to find gifts that will bring happiness, and choose something I think they will like… which is not necessarily what I might like!” Even though I like to bake, a gift of a gluten-free cookbook might be a better choice than cookies this year for some on my list.

Elizabeth nails it: “A good gift-giver really tries to put themselves in the other person’s place.” Feeling is about being sensitive to your friends and family so you can understand them better. A thoughtful gift doesn’t sabotage someone’s goals, or ignore someone’s choices. “Thoughtful gifts also don’t make more work for someone,” Elizabeth adds (another reason to think carefully before giving pets or plants).

Final Takeaway: Thoughtful gifts support and acknowledge, because they are all about understanding. When you truly see someone, listen to them, feel their challenges, and remember the good times you’ve shared with them, you have everything you need to choose thoughtful gifts.

So what are you waiting for? Start right away, because as Shannon says, “You never know when you’ll find the perfect gift!”

What about you? How do you choose thoughtful gifts? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Special thanks to contributors:
Elizabeth S.
Joanne S.

Michelle Gilbert from Sarva Soap Co., where soaps are lovingly and artistically handcrafted with 100% natural ingredients.
Patricia Robbins from Sea Blossom, who specializes in nautical soaps inspired by her love of the seaside.
Shannon Spiliotis from Spiliotis Events, specialists in planning for life’s big moments.

And I’m Emily from The Favor Stylist, helping you celebrate what matters. Thanks so much for reading!