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If you’ve been handing out Daiso mugs during birthdays and anniversaries, listen up: nobody likes receiving them. It’s never easy hunting for the perfect gift, especially if you’re buying for friends whom you’ve known for years. Nowadays, photo frames and coffee mugs are widely considered to be generic gifts. Buy them and you’ll probably get an exasperated sigh in return.

Does an upcoming birthday set you in a mode of despair? Well, here’s a piece of good news: you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Caroline Stanbury, a socialite and founder of Gift Library, has compiled a “fail-safe formula to help you budget for and choose the perfect presents for any occasion.” Here’s what I’ve found out.

Image Credit: Gift Library of Caroline Stanbury

There are 7 rules in Caroline’s gift-giving guide. Here’s the reader’s digest version:

  1. Think carefully about the person you are giving to
  2. Ignore your preferences — it’s not about you
  3. It should never be tit-for-tat
  4. Be organised
  5. Give a card
  6. Avoid joke presents
  7. Avoid cash

I have to say, I’m guilty of #2 and #3. Everyone has his/her own preference. What works for you, may not for your friend. At the end of the day, there’s no accounting for taste and that’s the way things are.

Also read: Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: 6 Ultimate Presents For The Travel Buffs

I couldn’t agree more with #5. What Modern Family’s Manny Delgado said about letter writing is on point: “It’s a lost art. No one puts pen to paper anymore.” That said, don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten card — it goes a long way.

Image Credit : Gift Library of Caroline Stanbury

It’s really interesting how single people are more accepting of humourous gifts than those in a relationship. Does that mean we lose our funny bone when we become attached? It’s definitely something worth thinking about.

Here’s another quick guide to shopping for your spouse on your wedding anniversary.

Image Credit: Gift Library of Caroline Stanbury

Note that not all the gift ideas in this guide will work in an Asian context. For instance, it’s never a good idea to buy chrysanthemums and clocks for your Chinese friends. The phrase ‘to send clock’ in Mandarin sounds similar to the word for ‘funeral ritual’, and it’s never cool to associate gifts with death — it’s common courtesy.

Caroline has also provided several practical tips to help you when shopping for your family and friends. Pop here to take a closer look. (There’s also a gift value calculator for you to work out your budget!)

Also read: Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: 6 Perfect Presents For The Comic Nerds

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