In the game of gift giving, there are winners and losers. Remember that time when your uncle gave grandma nail clippers for Christmas? He’s still trying to shake the stigma. And who could forget the time your brother made mom weep with joy by giving her that framed family photo? (I mean, your brother isn’t letting anyone forget, right?)

We’ve all heard plenty about how it’s the thought that counts and that a thoughtful gift is the Holy Grail of holiday time, but here’s the thing: This year, you just want to put one in the win category. We’ve compiled a little guide just for you, with three easy ways to make sure you get points for thoughtfulness. Call it a cheat sheet if you must — your brother will never know where you got the idea.

— Cindy Dampier