When the diagnosis is Resting Gift Face, the only prescription is Knack’s Genius Gift Tips.

The scourge of the holiday season is not hopelessly-tangled Christmas lights, stale gingerbread, or Alvin and the Chipmunks’ “Christmas Don’t Be Late” on repeat. No, it’s called Resting Gift Face, and we hope you never have to see it flicker across the brows of your gift recipients.

Symptoms vary, ranging from disbelief to disappointment and, in severe cases, disgust. It’s the slight cringe as the gaudy wrapping paper slips off the box, the ever-so-subtle wrinkle of the nose as they muster a smile and promise, “Thaaaanks….it’s just what I wanted!” You’ll know it when you see it (and you probably even have your own version), but this year, it’s preventable.

How good are you at detecting Resting Gift Face?

The first step to avoiding Resting Gift Face is making sure you understand the most common reasons for it in the first place.

Once you know what you’re up against, you’ll have a much easier time finding and creating great gifts: the best defense against the dreaded RGF.

3 causes of Resting Gift Face:

  • You don’t know your recipient well.
    • The holiday season brings its own unique gifting challenges. Whether you’re making your debut at your new beau’s family Christmas dinner (yeah…no pressure), or swinging by the neighbor’s Ugly Sweater bash (an annual commitment–just stay for ONE glass of eggnog and then you can leave), you might be facing an obligatory gift-giving scenario that leaves you mystified.
  • Your gift was a last-minute effort.
    • Procrastination-inspired gifts can happen to anyone–and boy, can they get weird. When showing up giftless isn’t an option, you risk making a panic purchase, picking out a gift that you know isn’t quite right but is better than nothing.
  • You weren’t really shopping with them in mind.
    • If your holiday shopping list is longer than the line to meet Santa, it’s tempting to just make it easy and pick out the gifts that appeal to you right away. It’s a quick and simple strategy, until it backfires. If you’ve ever received a gift that was clearly inspired by someone else’s hobbies (like the year your carnivorous Uncle Mack gave you, the lifelong vegetarian, a 17-piece BBQ accessory set), you know how awkward it can be to fake enthusiasm as you’re subtly rifling through the box to see if there’s a return receipt.

The consequence, in every situation? Resting Gift Face. But trust us, it’s not terminal!

Here’s what every gift-giving genius knows: gifts aren’t about stuff; they’re about emotions.

The right gift can spark joy, laughter, memories of inside jokes, deep gratitude that someone just gets you–we know you know what we mean. Our founder Laura is famous among friends for giving incredibly thoughtful gifts, the kind that make you think, “how did she know?” or “I can’t believe she thought of that!” She’ll tell you that choosing gifts may be an art, but it’s no mystery.

Here are 4 of Laura’s best gift tips to make sure there won’t be a single Resting Gift Face in sight. Not directed at you, anyway.

Tip #1: Make it unique to YOU and THEM

Let your gift be an expression of the relationship you share with your recipient–think of something only you can give. These 4 questions are a great way to start brainstorming your gift:

  • Do you share an inside joke?
  • Is there a recurring theme to what you do together?
  • Have they mentioned an interest in something in the past?
  • Is there a unique characteristic that the two of you have in common?

You’ll know you’ve got it if your gift turns out to be one you wouldn’t give to anyone else but this particular person on this particular occasion. Laura recalls, “One of the most memorable gifts I’ve ever given included a 5-pound jar of gummy frogs and 24 frog ornaments– clearly not a gift I could have given to just anyone!”

A jar of peach-flavored gummy frogs

Tip #2: Give them a story that begs to be retold

Memorable gifts have stories. Here’s how to find a gift with real personality–one they’ll be talking about long after the wrapping paper has been recycled.

  • Can you introduce the recipient to an up-and-coming artisan or entrepreneur they may not have heard of, but you know they’d love?
  • Did you find the gift under extraordinary circumstances? If it came from a one-of-a-kind market or merchant, or has an unusual feature you can explain to your recipient, it will be all the more compelling.
  • Can your gift have a philanthropic twist, such as products made of upcycled components or from merchants with a social mission?
  • Do you have a particular relationship with the merchants behind your gift?  Or does the gift include one of your own favorite things? If so, share your enthusiasm!

Your recipient will form a more lasting connection with your gift if you give them an interesting story to pass along to others, as well as a reason to learn more about an item, its history, and its maker.

Glass artisan Greg Clark at DECICIO Artisan Glass Studio

Glass artisan Greg Clark at DECICIO Artisan Glass Studio

Tip #3: Sprinkle with abandon

Add a dash of the unexpected! Think about a small favor or trinket that fits into the theme of your gift and don’t be afraid to have fun with it. A little whimsy shouldn’t cost much, but can go a long way.

  • If it’s an occasion for celebrating, think about adding items like confetti, poppers or party blowers.
  • If the gift is going to be opened in front of others, consider something the recipient can wear to mark the occasion, such as a pin or hat. Mini party hats and crowns from The Royal Touch are a particular favorite of ours–and they look downright adorable on dogs, too.
  • You might include something that the gift recipient can share with others later on, like a set of temporary tattoos. They usually come in sets of two or more, perfect for mixing and matching. Candy is also always well-received! 
Holiday

Holiday “sprinkles” for stockings of all sizes.

Tip #4: Pack it with flair

There’s no rule that says gifts have to come in paper-wrapped boxes with store-bought cards on top. The manner in which you give your gift can also make it memorable.

  • Give your gift in an unusual container – a lovely glass jar, an old cigar box, a vintage birdcage…if the contents fit and the container is easy to send or carry, try it out. If it’s something your recipient can reuse, even better.
  • Think beyond wrapping paper. Why not wrap a gift book or an e-reader in the New York Times book review section? Or wrap a kid’s gift in the comic pages? Take-out menus, doodles…anything can be used to make your gift stand out in a sea of patterns and ribbons.  
  • Make a card more fun by writing it on something unexpected – perhaps a vintage postcard or a piece of paper origami.
  • Skip the traditional card altogether and make your message an experience with a custom word search, crossword, word map or mad libs game. There are great free online tools to help you pull this together to make something especially fun for your recipient.

Creative wrapping isn’t simply about making a gift look nice–it can set the tone for the entire gift-opening experience. Think about everything you can communicate with your presentation: do you want to hint at what’s inside, obscure the contents for the ultimate surprise, or leave your recipient with something extra they can actually use?

Rally against Resting Gift Face with us: make a creative custom gift on KNACKSHOPS.COM. Browse our Holiday Gift Guide to get started!

Now that we’ve shared some of our favorite ways to make a thoughtful gift, we want to know about yours! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, or comment below to tell us how you make your gifts special.