How to Give Meaningful Gifts

UPDATED: May 22, 2023
PUBLISHED: December 2, 2016

SUCCESS is reader-supported. When you make a purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

What advice do you have for those who plan to give gifts during the holiday season?

Look to be the first or last gift. Send a gift before Thanksgiving and be the first gift they receive, or wait until the first week in January and make it a “kick off to the New Year” gift. No one remembers the stuff in the middle so avoid being caught up in the noise. It is also better to give amazing gifts to the most important people than to give average gifts to everyone. Lastly, send a handwritten note with each gift. Make people feel like they were the only one to receive that gift. Personalize it with their name on it and go all in. The details matter in gifts and people can tell.

Related: John Ruhlin gives tips for great gift giving on the SUCCESS Insider podcast.

Why is it important to give gifts, and how can you maximize benefiting from it?

Most people walk around feeling underappreciated. We all crave appreciation and acknowledgement from others. We all make decisions based upon how we feel and the emotional connection and then we justify with logic and reasoning. We are wired to want appreciation and if people show us that we matter, we are wired to want to reciprocate, to want to act on the other person’s behalf and in their favor. We encourage and advise our clients to give their clients and employees a classy and thoughtful gift with no strings attached, to plant seeds of goodwill.

What kind of gifts stand out?

We highly recommend against any sort of consumable and that includes fruit baskets—too many things can go wrong or against you. The worst part is all food and drink are gone and forgotten about in a matter of days. I teach my clients to give things that have staying power—that stay top of mind for years or decades. Personalized cutlery is a good example.

Related: How (and Why) to Give the Perfect Gift


This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Ruhlin is the author of Giftology and founder of the Ruhlin Group, a gift strategy and logistics company.