• Vanessa Wood

The Art of Gift Giving

There is an art to gift giving, and with Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought this blog might provide you and your partner some inspiration for what to give each other this year...and how to avoid giving bla gifts for future occasions.

Many people find gift giving stressful and difficult and most know the feeling of embarrassment that follows when they get it wrong. There are four main obstacles when it comes to finding the perfect gift.


We never seem to have enough of it. Our home and work commitments take up most of the day and night, leaving us little time for ourselves, let alone finding a present to make someone else happy. Whenever possible, mark birthdays, anniversaries and other gifting occasions on your calendar and set yourself reminders on your phone to start looking for possible gifts a month or two ahead of time. Leaving gift buying to the last minute often results in over or under spending, unsatisfactory or generic gifts, which the recipient may feel obliged to use.

Tip: We have all heard the adage ‘time is money.’ If you lack money but have some spare time, a skillfully handmade gift that looks like it took a long time to create will be perceived as having more value than an expensive store bought gift.


Balancing how much we are expected to spend verses how much we can afford to spend is a common dilemma. Being tempted to impress your recipient by spending more money than you are comfortable with may backfire, especially if you expect the same value gift from them in return and they don’t deliver. It may result in you being resentful and them feeling guilty.

Money spent doesn’t equal how much you love someone, so be realistic about what you can afford and make your penny’s count by doing your homework. Before making a purchase, always double check online to see if you can find the same or similar gift somewhere else for better value. Remember, cheaper doesn’t equal better, so beware!

Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of good first impressions. A gift will be perceived as having more value when it is beautifully wrapped.


Most people aren’t so concerned with how much their gifts costs anyway, especially if the gift is heartfelt and of personal significance to them. Putting some real thought to finding something special that will be meaningful or helpful for the recipient will always trump an expensive gift that has little relevance to them personally. Make an effort to get to know the needs and wants of your recipient then brainstorm by yourself or with a mutual friend, whom you can trust to keep it a secret. If possible, choose a gift that ticks multiple boxes for the recipient. This will result in a gift that shows you care about them as an individual and will earn you more brownie points as an added bonus.

Tip: If you are lacking inspiration, go online. Type ‘gift generator’ into the search bar and you will find plenty of websites dedicated to matching gifts with personality types. My favorite site for getting my creative juices following is Pinterest, which allows you to collect and collate your ideas into categories.


We all want our loves ones to have the ‘best’, but what does that look like to them? Choosing traditional material goods like jewellery, perfume and clothing can be hit and miss. Even when you think you know someone pretty well they can sometimes surprise you with the things they buy for themselves. If your recipient has similar taste to you, you can reduce the chance of missing the mark by buying them something that you would like for yourself. Make a mental note the next time they openly covet something you already own and purchase one for them… provided you don’t mind them echoing your style, there is always the possibility it looks better on them, so be prepared!

Tip: When buying for someone else, you shouldn’t buy a duplicate gift for yourself, as their gift will loose its specialness to them if your recipient sees you with yours.

So far I have identified the main difficulties most of us struggle with when gift giving, but what about solutions? Consumer surveys conducted recently may have the answers we seek. It appears that the popularity of traditional material goods has plateaued and gaining favour is live experiences.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. There are not many material goods that are unique anymore, which give the receiver that ‘wow’ factor. Below I have listed some more advantages of gifting someone a live experience.


  • Don’t require lots of packaging that will eventually take up landfill.

  • Don’t add to the clutter and accumulate dust.

  • Are less comparable than material goods, because everyone experiences things differently.

  • Can be shared with others (maybe you the giver?) and strengthen bonds.

  • Create lasting memories, which can be shared with others via the images taken during the experience.

  • Can be life enhancing or even life changing.

A great first choice for a live experience is a photographic sitting, because it ticks all the boxes listed above, plus a few more. You can choose when (and sometimes where) you would like your appointment to be, rather than having to adhere to a preset timetable. It’s likely that the recipient has never had their own photo shoot before, because many think they don’t deserve it or they won’t photograph well. There are also many styling and posing tricks to be learned from observing professionals at work, which is useful knowledge they can use.

To satisfy those searching for an ultimate photo shoot experience that will blow your mind, I have created four Experience Packages to suit a variety of lifestyles and budgets. For shy first-timers, you have a basic transformation with me in my studio (Suede Studios) and at the other end of the spectrum you have an on-location fantasy extravaganza with me, your own personal stylist plus all the bells and whistles. The latter is popular with musicians, fiction writers and other creatives wanting to express themselves fully.

If you are not sure which level to choose, we have gift certificates, which are available for purchase in any denomination and will allow your recipient to decide for herself which experience suits her best.

Regardless of which package you choose, every Suede Studios Experience results in many beautiful images to choose from, which will bring joy to all involved as well as future generations. It is impossible to say just how many brownie points that could earn you as the bestower of such a gift.

For more info visit: https://www.suedestudios.co.nz/experiences

or contact Vanessa on: 021 819 434


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