Like it or not, we're all living in a global village where our family is often just a plane ride away yet thousands of miles separate us. Keeping in touch is often hard to do because we all lead such busy lives. Nevertheless, if you're intent on maintaining those family bonds regardless of physical distance, you need to put a little effort into it. Aside from scheduling periodic video calls, talking to them on the phone, the occasional email, the chat groups we create, and so on, there's another great way to let someone far away know that you're thinking of them - gifting. More specifically long-distance family gifts that are thoughtful, emotional, and hopefully useful as well.
Rather than provide you with a list of gift ideas for long-distance family members, we thought it better to offer up some basic gift shopping ideas. Once you're clear about who you're buying the gift for, it becomes easier to find that perfect long-distance present for a close family member. With that in mind, let's look at some of the important consideration when buying gifts for relatives overseas or living across the country.
What's the first thing that a person experiences when opening a gift? The sight of it, right? So visual appeal is a very important aspect. In simple words, it's gotta look awesome. Everything else comes after that.
So how do you find a gift that looks awesome? The secret here is to know what type of person they are. Are they primarily a visual person by nature, meaning are they usually taken in with first appearances? If that's the case, the wrapping is nearly as important as what's inside. Most e-commerce sites will offer gift-wrapping as an additional service when you order something. At the very least, make sure you choose an e-commerce site that has branded packaging, such as Amazon or Etsy.
Next comes the gift itself. Whatever gift you choose needs to have that instant visual appeal that impresses the receiver the moment they set eyes on it. A lot of that comes from the utility of the product and its alignment to their personal preferences. For instance, the right color could trigger that postive emotion you're going for; or a coveted brand logo might instantly brighten up their day. Nobody ever scoffed at a gift when the first thing they saw was the box with the Apple logo on it, right? But it doesn't have to be an expensive gift - just one that's well thought-out. A simple baseball hat with their favorite team's branding might be the very thing to thrill them to bits.
Golfers love to get any gift related to golf, whether it's a club t-shirt or an expensive putter. Hiking enthusiasts love hiking gear. Fashion buffs would love anything trendy. You get the gist of it, right?
That's why it's so important to know who you're shopping for. If it's a nephew or niece you haven't seen in a long time, try to get some information from their parents about what they're into at that moment. Interests change so it's important to keep up. You don't want to be the Grandma that gives a Barbie doll to a girl who's now 15 and into real-life Kens, do you?
Another great way to find out what someone wants is to ask them. It's a little direct and it removes the element of surprise, but anticipating something is equally exciting. How many times have you gone to the door to see if that Amazon package has arrived? You know what you're getting but waiting to receive it is as exciting as - or probabably more exciting than - actually getting it in your hands.
Doing this also helps avoid disappointment, both for the receiver as well as yourself. Nobody wants to spend a pretty penny on a gift and then have the receiver be all 'meh' about it. It's the worst gifting experience ever. So take the time to get to know the receiver's personal preferences and what they're into before you buy anything for them. This is the mistake a lot of people make, especially when buying gifts for relatives. A gift that's totally out of whack with what the receiver likes is sometimes worse than no gift at all.
And if you've done everything to find out what they like but you haven't had any luck, then go with the safest gift of all - cash! It's certainly got that visual appeal going for it, and it will match almost anyone's personal preferences because it can be exchanged for things they actually like. However, this should only be your last resort... well, unless you already have a reputation for being the one that regularly sends money every year. Don't break with that tradition!
These two attributes invariably go together whether we're talking about a gift for a relative living across the world or buying something for yourself.
The utility part is about the gift being useful in some way. Not only does this add value to the item in question, but it also guarantees that it will be used regularly. An example of this might be a tool belt for your dad the handyman, or some expensive kicks for your brother in college. Such a gift will keep on giving because it integrates itself into their lifestyle and daily habits. That's the real trick in figuring out what to get someone living far away. The distance makes your knowledge of them a little hazy at times, which makes it that much more important to find out what's useful to them.
As for the quality element, that should be a given. Buying something just because it's cheap and fits your budget is not the way to go. Even if you have to stretch that budget to get an item of a better quality, it's well worth it in the long run.
Let's take an example of a luxury automobile like the Audi A4. It comes with a 4 year or 50,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, and 4 years of roadside assistance to boot. Yes, it's on the expensive side at between $40,000 and $50,000, but you don't spend anything for the first four years. Repairs are expensive, of course, as is insurance, but the value you get out of this vehicle is tremendous.
Another example is our Friendship Lamps. They're not the cheapest ones on the market but they offer true value for money. A 1-year warranty, a no-questions-asked money-back deal, premium materials, worldwide shipping, free and fast U.S. delivery, and best-in-class customer service. These make it worth the little bit extra you pay for a high-quality long-distance touch lamp.
To learn more about our Friendship Lamps, please visit the product page.
Quality is obviously an important aspect of a gift because you don't want it to break down shortly after their receive it and start using it. Do you really want your gift to end up in the trash a week or a month after you worked so hard to find the perfect item for them? Or worse, find it in the original box in the attic 10 years from now?
So quality and utility go hand in hand, but what's that one thing that gets 'em every time?
Probably the best type of gift of all is a customized one that bears their name or whatever you call them. There's a reason why those "Best Daddy in the World" mugs sell like hotcakes. And if it's got their name on it, they'll use it with pride for a long, long time.
Consider such personalized items that also meet other requirements like utility, quality, relevance, and visual appeal - and you may have found the secret formula of the art of gifting.
Why are personalized items so highly treasured? That's simple. Our name is one of the things we hold most dearly. It is directly tied to our ego and our image of ourself. It is our favorite word in the whole world. Picture this: you meet someone briefly at a party or a similar setting, you don't see them again for a couple of weeks, and then you bump into them at the gym. How would you feel if they remembered your name and addressed you accordingly? Imagine the person coming up to you and saying, "Hi, it's [your name], right? How are you?"
Does that give you a sense of respect and importance? That's the power of a name.
So if you're getting a gift for anyone, try personalizing it with their name. There's a reason why Apple registers your device as "John's iPad" or "Jenny's MacBook Pro." It gives the user a sense of importance that's part of the Apple device ownership experience. It's about individuality and identity. It's about the feel-good experience. And it's about ownership.
Unfortunately, this aspect of gifting is often overlooked despite the obvious benefits. It's a quick way to make someone happy, and if it's something truly useful, they'll hang on to it for years to come.
What do we know so far? Your long-distance family gifts need to have visual appeal, they need to match the receiver's preferences, they need to be of high quality and have utilitarian value, and they need to be personalized when possible.
Now that you know what to look for, you'll immediately know what to buy for your cousin who loves cooking or an uncle who's a golf buff. As long as meets at least two or more of the above criteria, your gift is likely to be received with thanks, and the gratitude will last for a long time.