When four in five of us is struggling to choose Christmas presents for our friends and family, according to research by eBay, it's time to call in expert help. Psychologist Simon Moore offers these handy tips for secretly sussing out exactly what they want in their stockings.
1. Listen up
When you’re talking to friends and family, tune into phrases like "I didn’t know they made them in that colour,” or "aren't those a great idea?" or even "I am so tired of this old...” By paying attention to clues like these, you can surprise friends and family with gifts that they’ll love.
2. Card to Father Christmas
If you have grandchildren, why not sit down as a family and make Christmas card wish lists to send to the man in red. Everyone in the family has to write a card and then display them on the shelf for a day or two, so everyone can take a peek. It's a fun activity and gets you the insider information you need.
3. Find someone in the know
When it comes to choosing for friends, why not talk to their partner to get some ideas? Or for grandchildren, try to get their best friend to one side for some detective work. They will be able to give you snippets of useful information – have they heard that your grandchild has taken up a new hobby, or that your friend been working late and would therefore like a voucher for a massage?
4. Play games
Playing games with friends and family can be a fruitful way of unearthing gift ideas. Maybe start by asking people what one item they couldn’t live without, and go on to what item would improve their quality of life, and why? It may not offer exact gift suggestions but you’ll get a better idea of what type of things people need or want.
5. Eyes and ears wide open
You don’t need to be Sherlock to spot magazines left open or pages folded over in catalogues. These are a trail of breadcrumbs that can lead to gifts that your loved one could be craving. Piece them together and then drop questions subtly into conversation – if they have been looking at things for the garden, why not talk about how next summer is set to be a scorcher – and see how they react?
6. The gender game
Buying for your other half can be a minefield with the gift you buy saying a great deal about your relationship and your compatibility as a couple. This can also be true when buying for any of your nearest and dearest.
Typically women care about sentimental value and appreciate something that connects them with another person. Reminiscing about a special time you shared together may spark some gift inspiration. Start a conversation about a holiday you shared and find out what was most memorable for them. Men are generally more interested in utility so will appreciate a gift that enables them to do or achieve things.