Obviously you hope your friend loves the gift you choose, but life is unpredictable. She may already have something similar; she may want a different colour; or she may have different tastes than you thought. Whatever the reason, you want her to be happy more than anything else. By including a gift receipt in the bag with your present, you give your friend the option of returning or exchanging it rather than having it go unused.
Many people worry that giving a gift card is impersonal, but it doesn't have to be. If you know your friend is stressed out and looking for ways to relax, a gift card to a store such as Lush or Bath & Body Works will be very much appreciated. Or if she just moved into a new place, she'll love being able to put a gift card toward purchases at HomeSense or Williams-Sonoma. So long as you put some thought into where that person would like to shop and add a special note, a gift card can be a very thoughtful present.
Have you ever gone back and forth on whether you should get someone a gift because you don't know if she's getting you something, and you don't want it to be awkward if she doesn't? That's totally normal, but there's no need to over-think it. If someone is important to you and you want to show her your appreciation, find a small, inexpensive gift, and give it to her with confidence. A small token won't make her feel uncomfortable if she wasn't planning to get you something too; it will just make her feel special. And if getting you a gift has slipped her mind, she can easily give you one later.
It doesn't matter whether you've spent too much, not enough or just the right amount; you don't want the person to whom you're giving the gift to know how much it cost. Many clothing price tags have a perforated line that lets you rip off the price easily. If you can't get the number off, go over it carefully with a black marker to hide it from sight. And keep in mind that many price tags can be hidden away, so give the gift a thorough inspection before wrapping it up.
It's completely understandable that you pick out items you find attractive as you look for gifts. Your mind is trained to track down items you're interested in, so it's only natural that you're drawn to pieces you would buy for yourself. But that isn't the goal here. When you shop for someone else, take a moment to think about all her interests and tastes, and then scan the shelves through that viewpoint. Doing so will ensure you pick out something she will love.
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