Gift Shopping for Others

Updated on June 30, 2012
M.2. asks from Downers Grove, IL
14 answers

I love, love, love to shop and especially when it's for someone else but my problem is that I over buy and just keep shopping and looking for something better up until the event that I'm shopping for. I'm not sure if that makes sense so here's a few examples - last month my daughter was invited to a birthday party and she had wanted to get a couple of books by the birthday girls favorite author. Sounds easy enough, right? Well I went to Target, Walmart, Mejeirs, and two different Barnes and Nobles to see every different book title they had by that author - then bought the ones that I thought sounded good only to show them all to my daughter and had her pick out the four to give as a gift - I then had to return the other books and I was sure to do it immediately so there was no question as to whether or not they were read or used. Then there was Father's Day when I went shopping for my hubby and our fathers - I wanted to get them all fishing hats so I went to Bass Pro Shops and found a couple different ones that I liked but since I didn't know which ones the fathers would want I bought three of each of the hats for a total of $225 plus tax (9 hates at $25each) and wrapped up the ones I liked best but then gave them the option of picking a different one and they ended up all liking the one I had first selected - I'm yet to return the six they didn't want! Okay one more example (and what triggered my question on here) is my daughter is going to a birthday party tomorrow night and we've been to ToysRUs, two Targets, and Kohl's looking for gifts and I've now got three different options for the gift which will result in my returning two of the gifts and I'm feeling as though we should go out and shop some more tomorrow! I love to shop and give to others but why can't I just find something nice and that I think they'll love and just be done - why do I feel that there's always something better to be found? I drive my husband nuts with my gift buying and returning - especially at Christmastime!!!!!

Please tell me I'm not the only one that goes through this craziness when gift shopping!!!!!

What can I do next?

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answers from San Francisco on

Wow I never had the money to shop like you do. Sometimes I buy the wrong things & now save money by sending gift cards. I have a big heart & have to be careful.

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answers from Columbus on

I was laughing at myself while reading this -- I absolutely hate to shop, and while I love giving gifts, I hate making returns! I kind of have the carpenter's mentality -- measure twice, cut once. But for me it's "window shop extensively for the gift, but purchase perfectly once." And I rarely shop for myself -- I hate it!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Ha! You need to be a sales person in a store! You sound like my kind of woman..

You do not give up till you find the perfect gift!

I have been in retail since I was 16. I LOVE beautiful things and get the greatest pleasure finding the perfect gift for people. I used to find the perfect gift and put it up so when the birthday came around I already had the gift.. The problem a few times was, I could not remember where the darn gift was stored!!!!!So I had to get another.. OR pick something new..

As I have matured.. I have begun to realize, some people do not actually want a "thing" instead they want our time.. Time to spend together.

And so instead of hunting and searching for things.. I try to come up with fun events or ways I can help..
Of course for a child.. The books are fabulous gifts.

During the holidays I love giving packages.. But I go gift wrap lots of gift cards to Comedy clubs, restaurants, Movies, Concerts.. We are just at that age.. that really if we want or need anything, we just but it ourselves.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You should be one of those people who shop for others that hate shopping. I wonder how much money you could make. I wonder how to advertise for that service. I see a job in your future. The best jobs are those we love doing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

How do you manage the TIME, not just the money, to hit so many different stores for every event, then hit them again to return things? If this shopping is cutting into time you really should spend doing other things -- then it's a problem that goes beyond "I like to shop," isn't it?

Do you have other areas of your life where you are dissatisfied and keep "shopping"? Do you tend to always feel like whatever you do isn't quite up to scratch, or that folks are somehow looking at you and saying "She's not good enough"?

None of that may be the case -- you may just love stores -- but excessive shopping and constant seeking for "something better" can be signs of other problems. I guess I can't be as humorous about this as other people posting because a good friend shopped excessively, to the point she racked up debt, and it turned out she needed some serious emotional help. (She got it and no longer shops compulsively, but she is still working through the debt.) That does not sound quite like your case here, but the need to go to multiple stores for a simple little gift for a kid's birthday party -- well, is that time you could be doing other things, and why would you really care that deeply about finding a perfect gift for one young kid you may not even know that well? Is there some reason you feel you need to be perfect by giving everyone the choice of hats, for instance? Just something to consider.

Sorry if the answer's too serious for the question but it does sound like a lot of time and effort on gifts. If you love it, I guess it's become a hobby, but is it one that takes away from time and money you could spend on other things and other people?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Ever heard of a gift receipt? Seriously, buy one hat and include a gift receipt. The receiver can go to the store and decide which had he/she wants at a later date. Same with the books. Go to the store you think the person would most likely go to and buy books there. Include the gift receipt with your gift and he/she can exchange it for a different book.

My in-laws live in a very small town, and there is a Walmart in a nearby town, but the nearest Target is 30 minutes away and the nearest Barnes and Noble is an hour away. If I can, I get their gifts at Walmart.

My sister, on the other hand, lives in a large metropolitan area, but I happen to know that her family prefers Target. So I always try to get their gifts at Target.

Maybe you're really good at picking out things for people. I'm ok, but not great. I'm less concerned about getting the perfect gift and more interested in getting something that lets them know I was thinking about them and they are welcome to exchange it and get something they really like.

So, to answer your question, I'm lucky that I have time to even pick up one gift. No going to multiple stores here!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Aw, honey you're so sweet & cute but stop the madness. Not shop the madness. Ha ha.
Here's why. You obviously put thought into gifts (which is what counts) and what you give is ENOUGH. The first thing you bought, your original idea.

So tomorrow try to make it your goal to return ALL gifts you overbought & don't need.

Then from here on out...........make a list or have an idea of exactly what ONE gift (or two....that's it) of what you want to give.

Think of where that gift may be. (look at ads if you have to)
Then you place a limit on it: dollar-wise, time spent-wise, gas drivng around-wise.
Have confidence that the one gift you DID buy is perfect, fabulous & just fine.

Part of it is our personality make-up.
Part of it is our personality traits.
Part of it is our "zodiac sign".
Part of it (the other 1/4th) is we just want to give.

So give yourself a boundary, a limit, a line.

Options are held for restaurants (do I want chicken or steak) and/or airline flight meals (peanuts or pretzels).
Not for gifts.

You are sweet, kind & loving but you can set a limit for gift-giving and you are all-good. :)

Best wishes and if you don't get over this gift-giving I will be forced to become your friend & give you my birthdate. Kidding. See? ;) Meant in the best of spirits honey! :)

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answers from Tampa on

I have been known to do this! I LOVE shopping

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answers from Jacksonville on

I don't know about the only one.... but I don't buy extras and take them back for every gift I buy. I do have a tendency to "window shop" even after I have bought something for the gift, but usually I only feel that way if I was hasty in my original purchase for some reason.

I tend to spend too much time wrapping the darn things! And yes Christmas can be crazy! One year I did not repeat any wrapping papers. In other words, if there were a total of 50 gifts under the tree, each one was in a completely different wrapping paper. Not just "bowed" and "ribboned" differently, but the actual paper was different. After that year, I decided to whittle down my wrapping paper collection and donated as much as I could stand to part with to my local Salvation Army. Of course, the wrapping paper for a few years there was kinda shoddy (what was for sale in the stores).... I didn't care for it and only bought a couple of rolls. Last year there were better choices, and I bought about 6 rolls in the after Xmas sales...

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answers from Chicago on

You're not the only one but I think you just have to decide if it's worth your time to do this. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. For me, when I am compulsive about gifts I feel it has more to do with me than the person I'm giving to (which is not so great) - that I want them to LOVE my gift because it's a reflection of me and my awesome ability to choose the most fabulous thing! Sometimes I just have to remind myself that it really is mostly the thought that counts, and then do my best to pick something I think they'll really like and I'll really enjoy giving. I simply don't have the time to do all the shopping and returning and really, why do it if it's a burden? The nice, thoughtful gift I choose will be great, and the gift receipt will allow them to choose something else if it's not. And either way they'll appreciate my gesture. All the running you're doing sounds tiring and compulsive, like you're trying to accomplish something other than providing a nice gift for a kid's birthday. Like maybe you want to "win" the gift giving competition. At least that's how it would feel if I were doing it, which wouldn't feel good to me. But if you enjoy what you're doing and it's not really a problem time-wise, I don't think there's any reason to stop. I hope the people you're buying for really appreciate all you do to find the perfect gift!

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answers from Cleveland on

hmm, :) I have a serious answer too, I know you meant it lightly and most people have taken it lightly.

So for the light answer, yeah i sometimes do this too, my favorite is teacher gifts so i can get carried away with those and keep adding to baskets until it's a bit ridicuous. I also never feel i'll have time to find something better so i buy the first thing i can find and then keep looking for better IF i manage to get outof hte house again.

The serious answer though is to say I've had my feelings super hurt by people who have high expectations for gifts and I also feel like i have to compete with my sil who has much more time and talent for finding the abso perfect gift.. so i'm wondering what the underlying thing is going on here. The books i can understand but buyng 6 $25 hats seems over the top. do you have a reputation to maintain, or is there another super gifter in the family? in the scheme of things i guess it's not a big deal but those quesitons did cros my mind.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You should buy one gift and get the gift reciept to give along with it, so that they can return it if they want something else. I undrestand that you like to shop, but you could be spending quality time with you children doing fun stuff (zoo, museum, great america, etc...) instead of being in stores all of the time tying up your money in extra gifts.



answers from Rockford on

You aren't the only one. My husband is actually the same way! He told me stories about shopping for my engagement ring. I think he said he bought one, then kept shopping, just in case I wouldn't like the one he had purchased. I was not expecting him to propose, so he didn't tell me he was ring shopping, and I am super weird about rings. I am not a diamond fan, so that added stress to finding the right color gemstone. Anyway, after it was all said and done, I think he had actually purchased three different rings before deciding which one he wanted to give to me, then returning the other two. Even after all that he still told me that if I didn't like it we could return it and I could pick out another one. *LAUGH!* I kept the one he gave me.



answers from Chicago on

wow, you sound like you'd be a perfect personal shopper! :)

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