Everybody knows someone who has the natural ‘gift’ of giving great presents for Christmas and birthdays. If that’s not you, this blog is gonna show you how to crack the code, and how you can manipulate this rule to work for any gift-giving situation. 

Let’s get right into it. 


The Rule of Four

When thinking of something to gift, a present can usually fit into the four main categories, coined the Rule of Four (which rhymes, so it’s easy to remember!)

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read


That’s all! Happy shopping, folks!

...Just kidding. Let’s crack on. 



The Bonus Rule

This takes a little more time and thought, but the rule is: something they want or need, but the recipient doesn’t know how much they want or need it until the gift is opened. Here’s three examples below:

  • If this person is forgetful or constantly misplaces things, a good gift would be a tracking tag they can use to track down their missing bits and bobs via a phone app. 
  • Another example would be if your recipient is notorious for pressing snooze on their alarm or sleeps in a lot, then grab them a light-up alarm clock that emulates the sunrise before waking them up. 
  • If your recipient is a kitchen wizard, grab them a blank recipe book or an ornate box filled with blank recipe cards, so they can write their recipes down and pass them on to their children, friends or neighbours. (This also doubles up as a keepsake! Bonus gifts are worth their weight in brownie points!)


It’s rarely something that a person would immediately realise they need or want – which just goes to show the bonus present doesn’t have to cost the earth.



Using the Rule of Four in Different Situations

So, here’s the rundown of manipulating this rule depending on who you gift to, whether it’s your parents, significant other, or a simple Secret Santa at the office. 

  • For your nearest and dearest: If you plan to spoil your nearest and dearest rotten, then use the Rule of Four plus the bonus rule. Chances are you know their interests and tastes, so present buying should be easy, However, you can certainly look for hints around their home. 
    • Something they want: They’ll have told you this, so pay attention or check their Amazon wish list, if they have one (and if you share a computer!) 
    • Something they need: Is anything broken? Maybe a watch or necklace they don’t wear anymore? Do they have a specific need for anything in general, such as funky shelves, a desk organiser, diary or a new utensil holder?
    • Something to wear: If you’re not down on the hottest fashion tips or their size, poke around their wardrobe and do your research on blogs or inspiration pages to find some tips. Failing that, jewellery, loungewear or pyjamas are a fantastic choice.
    • Something to read: This is our favourite. If you’re recommending them a book you loved, write a note to them or your favourite quote from the book on the dedication page, followed by your name and the date. If you’re not sure what book they’d like, have a cheeky look through their bookshelves and buy a sequel to a novel they have on display.
    • The bonus rule: We can’t teach you that one – you have to be observant!



  • For a friend, in-law or relative: Make a list of the rule of four and jot down your gift ideas – and don’t worry if you can’t fill them all! Simply get them one or two items from your list and that’s a wrap! (Do you see what we did there?)



  • For a Secret Santa: Most Secret Santas have a budget – because keeping costs down is the point of holding a Secret Santa! So – as above – write down the possibilities of a rule of four and cross-check your gift ideas with prices online. You’ll have your choice before you know it. 



Gifting to people you don’t know

In some cases, people gift to doctors or reception staff, their kids’ teachers, relatives’ carers, or babysitters... the list goes on. In some cases, you may not know the person enough to use the Rule of Four. Here, we provide you with a list of easy gifts for stress-free Christmas shopping.

  • Reed diffusers
  • Scented candles
  • A bottle of wine or Prosecco
  • Pretty notebooks
  • A box of chocolates
  • Small plants such as cacti, orchids or succulents
  • A novelty gift such as a mug


It’s easy once you know which direction to go in – but Google is always on hand just in case you’re still scratching your head.  Joe’s top tip is don’t go for ‘tat’ (pointless objects) that’ll only clutter up a space. Consumables are the best way to go, or something they can use every day. 



If you’re still reading, you should now be a gifting pro! Don’t forget to start your shopping early (I know we tell ourselves we’ll do this every year, but do we really?) so you can grab your bits and bobs before that pesky Christmas markup comes along!

If your eyes are staring hungrily at the calendar, waiting ‘til Black Friday, don’t forget to check our Black Friday survival guide for top tips on how to make the most of the day! 

Happy shopping!