When I first got married, I had the expectation that I should know exactly what my wife wanted for her birthday, or any other occasion, for that matter. I always tried to think of something wonderful that she didn't even know she wanted, until she received it from me. That was a hit and mostly miss strategy.
So, one day I told her of my distress over this, and she surprised me by saying she would be glad to tell me her preferences. I was relieved, and she probably was too. No more ginsu knives or chia pets.
Last week, while on a ski trip to Deer Valley, I was in the souvenir buying mode.
We have three kids, and I wanted to get them something to let them know I was thinking about them. While in a shop, I took snapshots of t-shirts I thought they would enjoy and texted the pictures to them.
A woman standing nearby knowingly said, "We like y'all to buy us stuff, but we like to pick it out."
Not only was this a great validation of my method, but she summed it up succinctly.
My kids replied in moments to my text which greatly sped up the process. Everyone's happy, and my gifts say I love you and am thinking of you.
I am telling "y'all" this in hopes that you may have similar results. It works for me, though I still feel a little like I'm cheating. I'll get over that, 'cause there's nothing worse, and of course there is, than getting a souvenir that you don't want.
By the way, my girls both picked the same shirt, and it wasn't the one I had in mind.