As someone who loves gifts (both giving and receiving) I thought I would share some tips for those who feel like they aren't very good at gifts. Especially husbands, who seem to feel a lot of pressure to make anniversaries, birthdays, etc. special.
Tips for Gifts
1. It truly is the thought that counts
While there are certainly some people out there who have very specific gifts in mind, for most people it's more about the thought/the effort than the thing itself. Big or small, expensive or homemade, it's the gesture of being thought of, of someone wanting to do something special for you, that really counts. Even those who are perfectly fine not receiving gifts may enjoy a note or other small gesture to show that they are on your mind.
2. Know the Person
The only way to truly know what someone would like to receive as a gift is to know that person. Some women love flowers and others hate them. Some people would prefer a gift of your time (like dinner out) or an act of service (like washing the dishes) to a tangible gift. All you really have to do is pay attention/have the desire to know what sorts of things they like. Make notes (mental or on your smart phone) when they mention really liking something or you witness them enjoying something---you can always refer back to that list later. Also, if they are the type of person who doesn't care about surprises, just ask them what sorts of things they like to receive as a gift! Then they are guaranteed to like it and if you ask far enough in advance they may even forget what they told you.
3. Ask for Help
Okay, so you know it's really about the thought and you feel like you know the person, but you still feel lost? It is time to ask for help. Seriously. There are so many resources at your disposal. For example, if you are that husband that does not feel creative and you're married to a person who really loves surprises and romance---ask someone who is creative for help. Your mom, sister, your wife's best friend---whoever. It doesn't make it less special simply because you didn't come up with it completely on your own. If anything, it shows how far you are willing to go to make your spouse feel special.
4. Pinterest / Google
Honestly if you just google "anniversary ideas" or "date ideas" you will get a plethora of options. You don't have to join pinterest to go on and search and trust me when I say In this day and age there's really no excuse (other than not trying) because you could literally just steal someone else's idea and duplicate it exactly (this isn't a business model, it's just a date---it's okay to plagiarize just this once).
I read an article once that said the perfect gift is one that requires you to sacrifice. Whether it be time, comfort, preference, money, whatever---sacrifice is a great quality in a gift. It could be as simple as seeing the movie your spouse prefers even though it's not something you enjoy or spending your day off doing something for them when you'd rather be on the golf course. In other words, to paraphrase the aforementioned article: "The perfect gift isn't one that begs for reciprocation, or sends a loud signal that you're a big-time sport. The perfect gift is simply about the recipient, not you."
Other good gift qualities include being personal, surprising, or a luxury (meaning something they don't get that often which lets be honest---for a mother that could be as simple as a NAP).
As I've written before, for me gifts aren't about cost or extravagance. You could give me a leaf you found in the park for all I care---if it made you think of me and you share that with me there's a good chance that I will treasure it.
Disclaimer: I've met people who are truly obsessed with STUFF and STATUS and these tips will not satisfy those sorts of people. If you're buying a gift for this sort of person you're better off just flat out asking for a list of what they want or including a gift receipt. Otherwise---I truly think these tips will be helpful for those who just feel lost when it comes to trying to make the people they love feel special.