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According to PwC research, the majority of Canadians are gearing up to spend more than ever before on the holidays this year. Many of us view the economy as successful and stable right now and that’s either subconsciously or consciously indicating to us to keep spending. PwC projects that Canadians will spend an average of $1,507 on holiday shopping this year — more than Americans, even. So what should you be spending that dough on?

Well, on average, 20 percent of that will go right back to us in the form of gifts we give ourselves this holiday season. Don’t deny it. You see a good deal and do a little “one for you, one for me.” It’s fine, you deserve it, right? A lot of that remaining 80 per cent will go toward gifts for your loved ones, friends, coworkers and acquaintances. But shopping for those people can be tricky. Not only do you have to think about what they might want, you should also think about what message you’re sending along with your gift. A wad of cash sounds like a sweet deal, but does it really communicate how much you care about the person you’re giving it to? Here are a few things to think about when it comes to gift-giving and what your present is really saying to the recipient.

Cash

Cash sounds nice, but it’s also a quick way to say to someone, “I put zero thought into your gift.” It also sends the message that you don’t know the person well enough to come up with anything more personal which can be hurtful. Unless someone explicitly asks for cash, don’t gift it as is. At the very least, doll it up or add a cute gag gift.

Gift cards

Almost half of Canadians report that they would like to receive gift cards for the holidays. Cards have all the benefits of cash (i.e. the recipient can choose their own gift) but they have the personal touch of someone selecting the store it’s for based on what the recipient likes.

If you don’t want to commit to one store, you could opt for a pre-paid credit card that can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted. Yes, that’s different from just receiving cash. People are less likely to re-purpose a pre-paid card for necessities, as opposed to gifted cash that might just end up paying for gas or groceries.

Flowers and chocolate

Flowers, chocolate, booze and candies are all gifts that we tend to give the colleagues and neighbours that we don’t really know that well. These things are temporary though and hardly leave a lingering impression. If you’re looking to build a relationship with someone, especially a coworker or boss, it’s better to give them something more permanent and personal.

If you want to give flowers, consider also giving a vase to put them in or opting for a houseplant in a nice pot. If you want to give a bottle of wine, also give some wine glass charms or a fancy stopper. If candies are your gift of choice, also give a little dish that will have them thinking of you every time they go to grab one. Think long-term when it comes to perishable or temporary gifts.

Experiences

Millennials in particular love experience gifts. They may not have the instant gratification of gifting someone a Nintendo Switch, but they have more long-term excitement. Concert tickets, spa vouchers and vacations are all gifts that say you put thought into what to get this person and it gives them a memorable experience they’ll forever associate with you. Nice job!

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