While “dates” might have to take a bit of a back seat this Valentine’s day, there is absolutely no reason to skimp on the gifts this year — in fact, the gifts might be more important than ever. So, if you’ve been procrastinating on getting that perfect gift for your perfect someone, then we’ve got the guide that you need to really nailing it this year. And they might not even noticed you bought it today.

Whatever occasion you’re shopping for, present buying can really put the pressure on.

Whenever you head out to the store, you always have the best intentions in mind, but armed with only a “surprise me” you’re pretty certain that the only thing your loved one is going to be surprised by is how awful their gift is going to be. You want to be the gift hero, finding that perfect thing that will make their day – regardless of the occasion – but it’s so hard not to fall into the trap of getting something simple and easy. After all, taking risks with your presents means that you’re just as likely to have a flop than a win.

If you’re standing in front of the counter, wondering if a gift card still says “I love you”, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Just take these really simple steps into consideration and you’ll find yourself never in doubt of what to buy your friends and family again.

1: Realize that Gift Giving is a Skill

Before you even head out to the store, you need to realize that just like so many things in life, good gift giving is a skill, which means that you can improve upon it. It’s just going to take time and practice. Sure, you might not hit it out of the park right off the bat, but the more that you apply yourself to gift giving, to really thinking about what you’re buying and not just taking the easy route, the more you’ll improve.

It’s like heading to the court or gym – you’re not going to have a good day if you don’t go in with the right attitude. So, take your time, and eventually you’ll find your stride.

2: Know Your Audience 

Alright, now that we’ve got the attitude down, its time to really start thinking about the gift that you’re going to give – which means that you have to start thinking about the person that you’re going to give said gift to. Although the number one rule here is make sure you’re buying something they’ll like, not what you’ll like, there are a few other things you can do to make this easier.

Listen to Them
Some of the best gifts come from listening to the things your friends and family say, and remembering them. People unintentionally drop hints of what they want all year round. You just have to make a note of it.

Don’t Hesitate
So, what if their birthday isn’t for months, or Christmas is half a year away? If you see something you know they’ll love, don’t wait, just buy it. Moreover, always keep your eye out for that perfect something. Even if its just in the back of your mind, you’ll be surprised how often you notice these things.

Avoid “Obsessions”
So. My friend is obsessed with Michael Jackson – I mean obsessed. I cannot tell you the number of times people have bought them a book, or piece of memorabilia, thinking they’ve nailed it only to find out that they already own it. Sure, if someone really loves something, it seems like an easy route to go, but more than often than not, they already know and own everything there is about that topic. So, you’re better off just leaving it to them.

3: It’s Not About the Money

Often our first answer to everything is to throw money at it. Certainly, there are is always going to be some awe at receiving a really nice set of earrings, or some concert tickets that cost someone an arm and a leg, but that isn’t always the answer. In fact, some of the most thoughtful gifts can come under $10. Another friend of mine loves socks. Loves them. It seems like such a cheap gift, but I know it’ll make them happy because I know them. Again, it all comes back to knowing your audience. A near stranger can throw money at you, it takes someone who knows you to find the thoughtful gift.

4: Presentation is Key

Regardless of what the present is, whether it’s the socks, a fine wine, or a diamond necklace, take the time to wrap it. If you aren’t talented at wrapping, get someone else to do it or at least throw on a nice bow. It’s a little thing, but it will give your present that extra touch, making whomever you’re giving it to feel like you really thought about them. It also doesn’t hurt to add a thoughtful note. Even if you did end up just grabbing that gift card, a note expressing how much you appreciate them will make it matter more.

At the end of the day, what makes the difference between a good gift, a great gift, and a horrid one is the amount of thought you put into it. Just take a moment to slow down and choose your gift properly. Even if you didn’t get it quite right, if the person can tell that you tried that will make all the difference.