A present is an opportunity to show how creative, thoughtful, and generous you are, all with a single well-wrapped package. Or it's a chance to look like a huge ass. Here's how to do the former and avoid the latter.
Gift-giving is tough. I learned this the hard way at the age of four, when I went to my best friend's birthday party and proceeded to unceremoniously unwrap the gift my mom had carefully picked out for her. Because that's what presents are for, right? Opening? Needless to say I got in huge trouble — and discovered at a young age how emotionally fraught giving a gift can be. You want it to be awesome, but not over-the-top. Personal, but situationally appropriate. And then there's the question of price. It's enough to make anyone just swap Amazon gift certificates (this is what my dad and his dad do every Christmas), but you no longer have to resort to that, because you have this handy guide. We'll tackle holiday gift ideas in greater depth later on, but for a whole bunch of other occasions, see below.
I covered this a bit in the birthdays post, but I'll reiterate: if it's a casual friend, who's also a grownup, you probably don't have to get anything. Unless he/she's having a house party — then bring some nice booze if you can afford it. If not, baked goods! If you're shopping for a close friend, you may already have a great idea. But in case your gifting staples are getting a little tired — or your wallet is looking thin — consider giving a service. Dodai says, "my friend once 'gave' me the gift of organizing my apartment, and it changed my life." Sadie has another budget-friendly recommendation: