These are my secrets. Feel free to use them on me or others.
  1. The best presents are, IMHO, as follows: 1) artfully executed inside jokes 2) upgrades of everyday essentials 3) thoughtful luxuries they'd never buy themselves
    Example A: Due to an old joke, I say "tars" instead of "cheers" when toasting. One of my BFFs got me a decanter engraved with TARS on it: I was SO HAPPY. Example B: I got my t-shirt-loving friend the best version of a t-shirt: a black, scoop-neck, long sleeve version from The Row. She died. Example C: Splurging on something someone would covet but NEVER buy themselves? Priceless.
  2. // Bearing this in mind, there are lots of places to look for ideas and systems to put in place so that the present-picking process is easier! //
  3. Stalk their social—in a good way!
    Do they have a Pinterest account? Look at it for ideas! Peruse their Instagram and READ their captions/comments; much truth/many desires are revealed here casually.
  4. Pay attention to what your loved ones mention and file it away for future gifts.
    When your BFF wistfully admires something while you're window shopping, make a note about it. Boyfriend/girlfriend complains about not having something (like spatulas) when you're cooking, make a note about it. The best part about this? People feel SEEN by you because it's proof you were paying attention. And who doesn't like that?
  5. Save general/all-purpose ideas in whatever virtual notes system you have.
    If I read about something cool—anything from a gadget to a new accessory designer to a gorgeous book—I add it to my "Potential Presents" Evernote file. Then I always have a trove of ideas to get me started at the very least.
  6. When in doubt, monogram it!
    Whether it's notepaper, a cashmere blanket, a clutch, a serving tray, or something else entirely, people generally enjoy a personalized present with their initials on it.
  7. Have all the accoutrements on hand.
    Stockpile birthday cards, wrapping paper, ribbon, bags and tissue paper so that you always have options at your disposal. This makes the whole present-giving process just a tiny bit easier, because as much as I love Paper Source, I hate dashing in there frantically before a birthday party or whilst frazzled from a day of shopping.
  8. Still stumped? Here's some shizz most people like!
    -Clare Vivier monogrammed pouches -1st editions of favorite books (most modern options are affordable; check for "vintage" options). Bonus points for saucy books like Valley of the Dolls, The Best of Everything, or Scruples. Also good: someone's favorite book from childhood, like The Phantom Tollbooth or A Wrinkle In Time. -The Row t-shirts (not cheap, but damn good) -Cashmere beanies (rando, but rad) -Le Labo Santal 33 candle (for men and women, the only luxe candle worth giving)