Image: Julia Sudnitskaya / 123rf
So it’s your best friend Ah Kow’s birthday, and you want to get him something that will make his life better, not worse.
Yes, you heard that right. Before you dive into the morass of sweaty bodies on Orchard Road in search of the perfect gift, know that the wrong present can actually make Ah Kow’s life worse than before, if only by creating unnecessary clutter in his home.
Here are four gifts to avoid like the plague.
1. Kits that require them to purchase more accessories
Last Christmas, someone in my household received a beer brewing kit as a Christmas gift. It was a pretty costly kit, and the person who had bought it obviously meant well.
But the kit has been gathering dust in a corner of the house because a key component wasn’t included—the carboy, that huge jug you use to store fermenting beer.
And of course, you can buy the carboy from the same company that manufactured the beer brewing kit—at a cost of $50.
So before you buy someone a gift, ask if they’ll be forced to spend even more money to actually use of it.
2. Gifts related to hobbies they may not necessarily want to take up
You might think your friend would make a wonderful guitarist. He might even have impressed you with his air guitar skills at karaoke. Heck, he might even have remarked casually that he should learn to play the guitar someday.
But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily run out and buy him an actual guitar. Taking up a new hobby like that requires a huge time investment, as well as possibly having to spend money on a teacher.
Make sure your friend already wants to do all this before you spend your cash on something you’re not even sure he will ever use.
3. Vouchers of shops they don’t shop at
Vouchers tend to be an easy answer to gift givers who don’t know much about their recipients. That’s why every single person at office Secret Santa parties gets vouchers for their recipients.
But before you get Ah Kow a Takashimaya voucher because you automatically assume that every Singaporean buys their basic necessities there, take a moment to find out where he actually shops.
Otherwise, he is going to have to waste one evening of his life trying to find something to buy in a place he doesn’t usually go to. And if your voucher is worth just $10 or $20, he’s going to have a hell of a time finding something to buy that doesn’t require him to spend even more money.
No matter how much of a style guru you might think you are, avoid buying clothing for your friend. I would use an ugly pencil case somebody bought me, but I can’t say the same about an ugly shirt.
Clothing is the one thing that most people will not use if the only positive thing about it is sentimental value.
Then there’s the question of size. Don’t just assume your friend is an XS or an XL, or go out and buy an M because he seems average. Nobody wants to wear clothing that doesn’t fit.
If you really do want to get your friend something fashion-related, stick with accessories like watches, bags, wallets or jewellery. While you can never be 100 per cent sure your friend will like the gift, it’s still a safer bet than clothes.
And hey, if he decides to give it away to someone else, at least he won’t have to find somebody who’s the same size as him.
This story was originally published on Moneysmart.