How I Fixed My Bad Gift Giving Skills

By Robert Edilson (Marketplace Co-Founder)

I’m assuming I’m not alone in this… but I’m not always the best at giving gifts. I often find myself walking around Wal-Mart or Target, unsure of what to get and looking for something that catches my eye. Half of the time I’d end up picking up some cookie-cutter item at the store just to get the “task” of giving the gift complete… normally out of lack of ideas or time.

One year, I bought my wife a blender for her birthday and actually thought it was a fun, thoughtful idea. Granted, if she would’ve been asking for a blender or was on a new smoothie kick, then it would have been fine. However, we already had a perfectly fine blender and there wasn’t really a need for an upgrade. Another year for Christmas I got her a matching bath rug and towel set. What was I thinking?

My wife always accepted these gifts graciously, but throughout the years she started to hint on the how-to’s of good gift giving. I’ve tried to use her tips as much as I can such as making it fun, unique, thoughtful, etc., etc., but up until recently… it was still tough for me to find a unique gift.

My wife started her own business and became a part of the world of craft fairs and farmers markets, and as a result I started to have a new sense of appreciation for the quality and effort that goes into those kinds of products. Since then, I’ve wanted to try and buy more locally made items…but honestly I just didn’t always have the time to visit individual fairs or the farmers market to find gifts for mom, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and on goes the list.

It all changed with the Cedar Rapids Marketplace

I get all the credit for finding something unique and thoughtful when in reality, it was only a few minutes browsing online.

For example, when last Father’s Day rolled around, I tried to think of something different to get my dad this year but nothing was coming to mind. Typically in the past, as I’m crazy busy, I would end up at Home Depot buying a Gift Card for him in the last minute (I think this happened for 5 years in a row). But this year, I browsed the Cedar Rapids Marketplace for a few minutes and came across this metal tractor sign that could be color customized. Knowing that my dad has a huge garden and works at Kinze, I knew it would be a good gift if I got it in blue. Once he got it he sent me a text with a picture of it set up in his garden. Check it out:

Gving good gifts, giving bad gifts, fixed gift giving Cedar Rapids Marketplace

Customized metal tractor art for my dad’s garden.

Every day he’s out there and sees it, he’ll remember that I took the time to think about him on Father’s Day and got him something unique. If I had bought him a new wrench…I doubt it would have the same effect.

It feels good knowing you’ve bought local

We’re not bad people from buying things from a big box store or Amazon. We all do. But I’ve discovered that it feels good to buy something from a local business. I know that the money is making a difference to them as they work to grow and provide a living for their own families right here in our own community. Although it’s not feasible to always shop local, I now make an effort to do it as much as possible.

Buying from local businesses is now easy

We all have the time every year when we think: “I need to buy X a present for their birthday”, “I need to get mom something for Mother’s Day”, and so on. And many of us will wait until one day before and head over the big box store to find something. But not anymore. Gift giving for me is now easy. I’ll browse the marketplace and be done. On top of that, it’s supporting a local business.

I suggest you share this with anyone who is really bad at giving gifts like I was. It’ll make it easier for them too.


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