There’s a term for when you think of the perfect comeback only once the moment has passed: l’esprit de l’escalier, French for “the staircase mind.”
As far as I know, there is no term for the gifting version of l’esprit de l’escalier — when you come up with the best, most thoughtful present after the gift exchange has come and gone and you already panic-bought a bunch of Amazon gift cards. But you can banish this particular holiday-season pitfall from your vocabulary altogether with one simple tool: the gift spreadsheet.
Alexandra Samuel explains in her sprawling guide to Google Drive:
Just set up a Sheet with the names and birthdays (and graduations, and anniversaries) of the most important people in your life. When you spot something that you think would be a great gift for someone you love, jot the idea down in a gift ideas column next to their name…. connect the sheet to your calendar so you get a reminder two or three weeks before the big day, or manually set up alerts, and pop into your gift planner to see the gift ideas you’d already marked down. Gosh, you’re so thoughtful!
Even if you’ve already finished your holiday shopping, it’s not too late to start a spreadsheet — sometime between now and next December, you’ll be grateful that you did.