Recently someone remarked that I was good at finding accommodations for trips. That struck me as funny as I thought about all the hours-long sessions I’d spent trawling manually through hundreds of listings.
It doesn’t feel like a particular skill I have, more than a dose of patience for scrolling and evaluating in a loop for long periods of time. If I stopped 15 minutes into searching, it would rather look like I was bad at finding places to stay.
I see the act of finding presents similarly. Here’s how I find presents right now. For one, I sit and make a list of the things someone is interested in, sometimes looking at their social media for clues. For my mom it could be that she’s vegan, she’s interested in meteorology, astronomy, economics, and mysteries, and she like warm things for winter. From this list I can start googling and scrolling, and thinking about each item and if it would make sense for her.
When I’m in shops, I browse items and cycle through the people to get gifts for, evaluating each for a fit.
When I’m with someone I take note of friction in their lives, the things they complain about, and search for the gifts that would reduce that friction.
I’ll also take stock of all the good gifts I’ve gotten and get something along the same lines or out right give the same thing.
Sometimes I just search for the words “good gifts” or “good stocking stuffers”.
Sometimes I just sit and think about someone.
Occasionally, a gift idea comes in a moment of so-called inspiration, but I find that inspiration comes for me when I’ve already been thinking about something for a long time, and have merely set it aside for the time being.
And yes, after going through the full process more, I’ve found ways that help me find presents best, or shortcuts to speed the process up. And intuition about where to invest thought and time. Skills, if you will.
I didn’t always do all this. The thought that other people had a particular knack for finding good presents stood in the way for a long time. I challenge everyone who has the same way of seeing gift-finding to look at it as a manual job that anyone can do, and just put more time towards it. Or, if someone else is finding presents on your behalf, thank them for their sweat.