My foolproof trick for gift-giving takes 5 minutes — and works even if the person is impossible to shop for

  • If you're struggling to come up with gift ideas, look at the recipient's daily and weekly routines.

  • Use their hobbies and habits to come up with ways to upgrade or enhance their life.

  • The best gifts fix a problem or help someone enhance something they already enjoy.

  • This article is part of "Better Holidays," a series highlighting different ways to make holiday celebrations easier and memorable.

Gift-giving isn't my love language, but I'd say I've gotten pretty good at it in the past few years.

The truth is I had to. Many people in my life are hard to buy gifts for, real card-carrying members of the "I don't need anything" club with few hobbies to top it off.

But the keys to a good gift for hard-to-shop-for loved ones are practicality and thoughtfulness. And you don't need to be a genius to come up with good gift ideas — you just need to pay attention.

Look at someone's daily or weekly routine and find ways to make it better

Picture your recipient and walk yourself through their daily and weekly routine as best you can. This works best for people you know well or live with —but you can use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

What do they do every single day? What do they love? What do they complain about? What are they working on? How do they fill their time?

Then, think about how you can build on it.

Here's an example for you: Every day, my dad makes an iced coffee with flavored syrups, but only if they were on sale because he doesn't like to spend money on things like that for himself. His coffee maker is pretty basic and old, but he won't replace it because it works. He commutes to work every morning and listens to music, but he keeps complaining about his wireless earbuds' battery life. He wears a watch from his collection every day.

Now, how can we upgrade the routine or build on it to find something he'll love?

I can upgrade his coffee maker with a nicer new one with a milk frother or get him a new pair of earbuds with great battery life.

I can enhance his morning routine by buying him an insulated cup (maybe a Yeti or Stanley) that will keep his coffee cold since he likes it iced and some nice syrups (with pumps!) because he wouldn't buy them for himself. If I was on a budget, I could even make homemade syrups inspired by his favorite flavors.

He clearly likes watches, but buying someone a wearable item can be risky. Instead, I could get him automatic watch winders to keep his favorites in tip-top shape or a travel case so he can safely bring them with him on vacations.

This audit took me five minutes, and I know my dad, who famously asks for nothing for birthdays and holidays, would use everything I listed because most of them are gifts I've already given.

gift giving present giving
To give a great gift, think about ways to upgrade someone's regular routine.Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Above all, keep your gifts useful, and your thoughtfulness will shine through

Start now. I keep a running list of every gift idea I think of and sort them by person in a color-coded note.

When your friend sends you pictures of the fancy iced lattes she's been making every morning, make a note to buy her beautiful glass straws and heart-shaped ice-cube trays.

If your brother just moved out on his own for the first time and has been subsisting on ramen, book a cooking class for the two of you or get him a set of pots and pans.

If your aunt hosts barbecues every weekend in the summer, help her upgrade with a fun yard game (giant Jenga, ladder toss, ax throwing) or a new beverage cooler.

The best part about this gift-giving strategy is that you can't go wrong with a useful gift — and by paying attention, your thoughtfulness will shine through.

Read the original article on Insider