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On birthdays, holidays... or just because ... gifting a loved one or a friend makes any occasion special.

On some occasions, gift giving can be as easy as ordering flowers online for Mother's Day or organizing a Secret Santa around the holidays for friends or family.

Another no-brainer may be simply choosing wedding gifts for the young couple from a bridal registry.

Tougher gift giving decisions might include picking out the perfect gift to tell a secretary how much their efforts are valued; or to thank a boss for helping make your career a success.

If you're not sure, ask coworkers, friends or family what the giftee might like. For guys, check out this study on what women really want as gifts and be surprised at the results!

The husband who is nuts about golf, for example, and gives a non-golfing wife a great set of clubs, will be disappointed with the reaction... guaranteed.

The expression, "It's the thought that counts," may be a cliché, but that old and overused saying is based in truth. No matter how much you spend on a gift, if you don't take the time to think about the person who gets the present, you're likely to miss the mark.

The best time to buy gifts

Think ahead and you can save a bundle on seasonal gifts if you shop, for example, several weeks before or AFTER a big holiday. Jewelry especially is offered at the cheapest prices of the year following the Christmas rush.

Black Friday sales, of course, are prime time for sales on gift items such as electronics or flat screen TVs.

After-Christmas sales also offer great bargains followed by January white sales. Nowadays, along with sheets and linens, there's an entire range of houseware deals to be had during the first month of the year (think: house-warming gift).

For more tips on what goes on sale when, check out our page on seasonal sales - when to buy everything month by month.

Pro Tip: Savvy shoppers keep a running list of birthdays, anniversaries
and other occasions handy to make it easier to shop ahead.

Gift giving - be careful out there

Speaking of spending, remember to take a look at the cost of shipping whenever you're comparison shopping for online gifts. The best deal can turn out to be more than you wanted to spend when you add in the shipping and handling fees.

Giving gift cards is another easy option. Just keep in mind the expiration dates that may limit your giftee's ability to buy something nice for themselves. Although laws have changed that extend the time for which gift cards are still valid, in the US gift card laws may vary by state.

Also, be careful when giving VISA, Mastercard or American Express gift cards and look pay attention the fine print -- such as "only valid in the U.S." -- especially if you plan to give credit card gift cards to friends or family overseas.

The right gift can perfectly express the friendship, love, or gratitude you feel. Take time to give it some thought now, and your gift will likely be remembered fondly.

Happy gift giving!

More gift buying advice around the Web:


Comparison Shop for Gifts, Flowers & Food - Find the best prices from a variety of online stores to buy gifts ranging from jewelry and perfumes to wine and chocolate, at

Berkeley Parents Network - Gifts & Gift Giving - Join the fray at this message board featuring tons of visitor-submitted ideas for for birthdays, graduations, house guests, and sorted by category including gifts for kids, teens, adults, parents and grandparents.

Test Your Gift Giving Etiquette - Find out if you've got it down correctly with this interactive quiz from



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