A thoughtful gift is a relevant gift; one that reflects the recipients' passions, loves, hobbies, and life. It is a gift that is the result of deep thought of the recipient and what would make him or her happy (or ugly cry, depending of your preference). But how many of us are really great gift givers or have in fact received many gifts that seem to have nothing to do with us?
For me personally, I'm always moved to tears when I receive well thought through gifts from my friends or family. I generally don't like getting gifts too much from strangers because they tend to be something that's too generic or has been made without keeping me in mind... and stuff has a way of accumulating. My minimalist approach to life doesn't support the giving of gifts that aren't useful or thoughtful.
However, when I get into a situation where I need to give a gift to someone and I don't know the person myself... then I've found a few things that usually work pretty well.
Depending of the person usually wine (or hard liqueur) and chocolate are the things that I don't mind getting as a gift from someone. The reasoning is simple... if the person themselves won't be consuming it (either due to not drinking alcohol or not loving chocolate) then they usually have guests or friends coming over with whom they can consume the product together with.
If you already know the person well, then getting a bottle, jar or pack of their favourite goods shouldn't be tricky to find (unless it's expensive truffles) and will always be received with a smile on their face... because you're playing to their taste buds.
And last but not least... baking someone's favourite cake, making your signature dessert or best cookies is also a great alternative to things that can't be eaten.
Some people don't like getting physical gifts and that's completely fine in my eyes. To be honest, a step up from consumable gifts is spending time with people and through that giving them priceless experiences and your time instead.
These could be ideas such as... a dinner with your best friend that you've cooked or that you're paying for at his or her favourite restaurant. Or learn to cook some food together if your friend is a foodie? It could also be going to a concert or museum or art exhibition that someone's always wanted to see and making it a huge deal - dress up, look your Sunday best and arrive in style. An alternative is also staying on, organizing a slumber party and watching your favourite guilty pleasure movie together with pop corn and other lovely snacks.
3. Your valuable time
Gift time, it's the one thing that we all have the least of and that we appreciate the most of when given to us. You can give someone time by giving them a free night by offering to babysit their kids. Or if you're usually super-busy and letting others organize events together with you... maybe this time do it yourself? Book a place, invite that one friend that's been waiting to get a spot in your busy schedule.
4. Custom-made art
Now this one I can't be bias about... because, well you know already why. I'm an artist, so it's only logical that I personally have a preference towards art and artsy things. But here's the thing... a well thought through piece of art is something that will be cherished for years, that might or might not at some point gain more value over time (think of the artist that are now dead but would be millionaires!) and that will reduce stress when looked at!
Ok, fine :) yes, I kind of went overboard with the last statement but think of it this way... visual art, music and theatre for instance have long been known as things that keep our culture alive and give us the artistic food that we need in life. Art has a way of soothing one's soul and whether you believe in it or not (even placebos work, you know) at the end of the day... your loved one will always remember if you gave them a gift that has meaning to them.
Be it then a drawing of their favourite flower, a word that sparks joy and creates nostalgia or the first letter of their name.
People love getting gifts (for the most bit) and making gifts (for the most bit) and I'm just giving you simple suggestions on how to be more thoughtful about it.
Ultimately, in the end... your time and thoughtfulness is the thing that shows the other person that you care about them. Spend time with them, make time for them and don't forget to lose track of time when you are with them. Especially at these trying times.
Stay safe out there!