How to Buy Presents Strategically


When you have kids and have gone through a series of Christmas seasons, you realize that sustainment of happiness from a present is usually longer in the mind than it is in reality. Sometimes, especially with toys, the euphoria ends on December 26!

This season I’m taking a different approach. I’m approaching present-giving like capital investment. In business good strategy requires allocation of resources towards areas of growth. Capital is invested towards something that has long term ROI, and aligns with the strategic goals of the business.

Apply this concept (loosely) to presents. So, for your gift receivers (kids, spouse, family), what gift will help have sustainable enjoyment? And, what gift will help the person and/or your relationship with that person grow?

I want our kids to learn experientially. So, I will buy gifts that will teach them new things they would not learn in books, but still enjoy. Example: I recently bought them SIMS City, Zoo Tycoon, and Rossetta Stone.

I don’t have as much time as I’d like to give to our family. So any gift I receive or give them should be accretive to quantity and quality of time with the family. Anything that builds family memories is good, like a camera for the kids so they can take pictures of the family and our life. A book for me on raising my kids (instead of my typical marketing / management books!). Family games that aren’t boring would be a good thing. Gift certificates to dinner or events as a family. Etc.

And finally, less is more. Or put another way, focus. We need to pick gifts that will be big hits. Not a lot of presents that are just ok. We do stockings which has an abundance of cheaper presents…they have a lot to open. But otherwise, a few gifts that are hits and have sustainable enjoyment and interaction will be remembered far longer than a pile of toys that get shelved a week later.

That’s my strategy for myself and my family this holiday season, and I thought I’d share it with you.

2 Responses

  1. Bert Decker says:

    Great Sam. Can’t wait to see what I’m going to get! Or better yet, what I have to get you (thinking strategically.)
    Your Dad

  2. Ann Handley says:

    I agree Less Is More (as with many things in life!) That said, I approach gift-giving wtih my own kids like an investment portfolio: diversify. Something to play alone (like a video game), something to play together (like a board game), something to feed your mind (books, music), something to sustain you (clothing), something for no other reason than FUN (a goofy or irrational thing or much-coveted THING that they’d only get at Christmas…!)
    Similar to yours. Sorta.

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