Day 5 of 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving: How to be a more thoughtful eavesdropper.
It's the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house, every creature is stirring—and baking, and roasting, and doing fridge-checks for the final (okay, second-to-last) grocery run.
Now, meaning all weekend long, is your chance to eavesdrop on all your loved ones to figure out what might be the perfect gift for each of them. Find a notepad or clear some brain space: We've rounded up some helpful leading questions and things to listen for while you're with your loved ones all weekend, for maximum "I know the perfect gift!" moments.
Drop these like they're hot, and then listen up.
If yes, consider a gift that would be useful for their trip or for travel in general: a nicer toiletries pouch, a lightweight bag that folds up to a pouch for stowing souvenirs they accumulate, or an insulated water bottle. If they don't have any trips coming up, see here.
Read the response carefully. If it's buoyant, play into their high: a new notebook for your budding journalist niece, or a wool beanie for the wildlife photographer uncle. If they say "same as always" and seem bored with the topic, think of something to perk up their desk life: a little brass bud vase or a coffee mug to leave at the office. And if they seem stressed, a gift certificate for a massage or a fancy loofah and some DIY bath soak wouldn't be amiss.
Obviously, save this for the folks you haven't (YET) visited—ideally they'll need to show you some pictures, as well. Look closely: If you spot fresh flowers, a vase or a flower subscription would be an amazing idea. And listen, too: Have they "been meaning to get some cute wall hooks" to go by the door? (We've got 'em.)
In this case, you're fishing for hobbies: Give reams of new, beautiful yarn to the sister who has taken up knitting. Or a gift certificate to an indie movie theater for a film junkie. Proper linen napkins for the cousin who just moved in with her boyfriend.
The illusion here is that you're just fishing for recipe ideas for yourself, you sly fox you, but what you're really doing (right?) is listening: Is your dad on an ancient grain kick? (It's a thing.) Get him a wee stovetop rice cooker, which makes perfect rice, quinoa, farro—okay, any grain. Your mom is going through a salad phase? Get her a big beautiful bowl to eat them out of.
This might sound too good to be true—loved ones who actually drop hints without you prompting them? But what you're actually listening for are those boastful, sometimes backhanded remarks that we so often tend to spew when we're trying to impress or one-up. After a long weekend of hanging out together, you might hear...
It's the end of a long weekend of occasionally awkward conversation and you know that—underneath even the snidest remarks—your loved ones (most likely) mean well. Nudge them into telling you what they want and need, listen up, and the glee you'll incite, when they realize you were thinking of them all along, will put everyone in the holiday spirit.
How do you get your loved ones dropping gift hints? Tell us in the comments.