IELTS Cue Card: Describe a gift that took you a lot of time to prepare

IELTS Cue Card: Describe a gift that took you a lot of time to prepare


Describe a gift that took you a lot of time to prepare.
You should say:
  • What it was
  • Who you gave it to
  • How you prepared it
And explain why you spent a lot of time preparing it.

Part 3:
  • How do people usually choose a gift?
  • Why do some people find it hard to choose a gift?
  • Do you think practical gifts are always better than other ones like cards and flowers?
  • Do people give you the same gifts as they did in the past?

Part 2 — Sample Answer:

Most gifts take me ages to prepare just because I’m so bad at picking the right gift, and I’m terrible at wrapping them too.

A year or so ago my mother hinted in an email that she wanted a particular kind of old-fashioned fountain pen. Apparently she’d wanted it for years and years, but hadn’t gotten around to buying it. Her birthday was right around the corner and it seemed like the perfect gift.

I’m usually pretty resourceful and can quickly find most products online, even if they’re unusual or rare. But this time I couldn’t buy it online because the shipping time was too long and expensive. Instead I had to hunt for it in every art supply store I could find.

I started by doing some research online. I didn’t even know which brands to look out for, or which to avoid because they would break the bank.

I thought that if I visited a couple of local art supply stores I’d find the perfect one; I was wrong. Store after store said they didn’t keep such pens in stock. I started to fear I’d have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new gift idea.

In a panic I called every art store within a 30 kilometer radius in a last ditch attempt to find this pen. I found one and rushed as fast as I could to the store.

I thought my woes were over but next I had to wrap it. I’m atrocious at wrapping anything and usually have someone else do it for me, but there was no time before the big day. I went through roll after roll of wrapping paper but I finally succeeded a couple of hours before I was supposed to fly home for her birthday.

Like most good stories, this one has a happy ending. She was delighted with the gift but knew straight away who’d wrapped it!

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Ages (plural noun)
If something happens for a very long time, it happens for ages.
Example: It’s been ages since I saw you.

Get around to doing something (phrasal verb)
If you get around to something, you find the time to do something.
Example: I meant to do the ironing but I didn’t get around to it.

Around the corner (idiom)
If something is not far away, or is happening very soon, it’s right around the corner.
Example A: The kids go to school just around the corner.
Example B: It feels like spring is just around the corner.

Look out for (phrasal verb)
If you try to notice someone or something, you’re looking out for it.
Example: Look out for Anna while you’re at the party.

Break the bank (idiom)
If something is very expensive, it is said to break the bank. It’s often used in the negative.
Example: I don’t have enough money to go on vacation right now. I’m afraid it would break the bank.

Go back to the drawing board (idiom)
If you have to start planning something again because the first plan failed, you’re going back to the drawing board.
Example: That ad campaign wasn’t very successful and we have to go back to the drawing board.

Last ditch attempt (idiom)
A last ditch attempt is a final attempt to do something when everything else you’ve tried has failed. Usually it’s not expected to succeed.
Example: The team tried one last thing in a last ditch attempt to win.

Woes (noun)
Woes are big problems or worries.
Example: The country has a lot of economic woes for the past decade.

Atrocious (adjective)
If something is atrocious, it is of really bad quality or very unpleasant.
Example: The weather has been atrocious all week.

The big day (noun)
A very important day, especially the day arranged for your wedding or some other major celebration.
Example: It took a lot of planning to get everything ready for the big day.

Part 3 — Sample Answers:

How do people usually choose a gift?

I think there are a number of factors that people take into account when picking a gift.
Probably the primary consideration is cost. Most of the time there’s a budget in mind although usually there’s a little bit of wiggle room.

Obviously people are going to want to buy a gift that the recipient is going to love, or at least like. There’s little point giving someone something that they‘ll hate!

I think a lot of people nowadays will do some research online. Maybe they’re looking for gift ideas, or maybe they don’t really know much about the gift they’re intending to give and need to read some reviews or guides.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Take into account (idiom)
If you consider or remember something when you’re trying to make a decision, you’re taking it into account.
Example: I hope my teacher will take into account the fact I was sick before my exams.

Wiggle room (noun)
Wiggle room is the freedom or ability to change your mind and do something different as needed.
Example: I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to stay in Paris, so I left myself some wiggle room when I was booking the trip.

Why do some people find it hard to choose a gift?

I’m one of those people! I not only find it hard to buy for others, but friends tell me that I’m really hard to buy for too!

I think in my case I’m pretty hard to buy for because I tend to have just about everything I want. I’m not a really materialistic person and rarely talk about stuff I want. Typically the best gifts I’ve both received and given have been creative in nature.

I think the other reason why it can be tough is because of money. Not everyone can splurge on an expensive gadget or pay for an expensive dinner. On the surface these could appear to be the perfect gift, but financially out of reach.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Materialistic (adjective)
If you’re materialistic, you believe that money and possessions are the most important thing in your life.
Example: I was a materialistic person when I was younger.

Splurge (verb)
If you splurge you spend a lot of money, especially on something special as a way of making yourself feel good.
Example: He splurged a lot of money on a new Italian suit.

On the surface (idiom)
The way that someone or something looks or seems while their true feelings or character remains hidden.
Example: On the surface they looked like a happily married couple.

Out of reach (idiom)
It’s used for saying that someone cannot have something or do something because they don’t have enough money or skill.
Example: There were many times when I thought my dream of having a cat was out of reach.

Do you think practical gifts are always better than other ones like cards and flowers?

No, not necessarily. Cards and flowers can be the perfect gift for some people. It’s often said that it’s the thought that counts, and cards and flowers can show how much someone cares.

There are some occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, when cards and flowers are the perfect gift. It’s common and almost cliché for someone to send their partner a bouquet of roses.

There are other people who would appreciate more something they can use. My dad, for example, would always prefer something he could use, whether it’s a book he can read, or a pair of socks!

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

It’s the thought that counts (phrase)
It’s a phrase used for saying that good or kind intentions or what matters most, even if what you do or give someone isn’t perfect.
Example: I didn’t like the perfume he gave me for my birthday, but it’s the thought that counts.

Cliché (noun)
A phrase or idea that is boring because people use it a lot and it’s no longer original. This word is a French loanword and has an accent, which is unusual for words used in English. Note the French pronunciation of this word too.
Example: I know it’s cliché, but my wedding day was the happiest day of my life.

Bouquet (noun)
A bouquet is a group of flowers that are tied together in an attractive way. Usually they’ll be given as a present or carried on a formal occasion, such as a wedding.
Example: Chris sent me a lovely bouquet when I was sick.

Do people give you the same gifts as they did in the past?

Absolutely not, for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps the first that comes to mind is my age. It would be really inappropriate to give me a child’s toy as a gift, but I used to get lots of them for my birthday and also for Christmas when I was a kid. Nowadays it’s more likely that I’ll get something related to technology, or maybe something more practical such as a pair of socks.

Friends and family are more likely to give me something that’s been recently invented. Technology has advanced at a rapid pace and there are a lot of things that simply didn’t exist five or ten years ago, let alone when I was a child. It’s for this reason that the gifts I’ll get nowadays will be very different to the ones I got in the past.

I’m not sure what the future holds, but I imagine that kinds of gifts I’ll get in the future will also be different to the ones I get now. Maybe it’ll be something really intriguing that has yet to be invented, and I’m quite excited to see what that could be.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Comes to mind (phrase)
If you suddenly remember something or start to think about it, it is said to come to mind.
Example: They asked for my comments, but nothing came to mind.

Let alone (phrase)
It’s phrase used for emphasizing that something cannot be true because something else isn’t true either.
Example A: I can’t drive a car, let alone drive a truck.
Example B: There isn’t enough room for us, let alone any guests.

What the future holds (phrase)
It means what is likely to happen in the future. If you wonder what the future holds, you wonder what will happen in the future.
Example: We wondered what the future would hold for our baby son.

How long will these questions be valid?

At least until the end of April 2020.
Three times a year the British Council changes many of the topics and questions they ask. Sometimes they decide to keep a topic for another four months, but oftentimes they decide to replace it. This one is very likely to be replaced with a new topic at the beginning of May 2020, but it won't be known for sure until then.

Just to let you know, there are 49 possible part 2/3 topics on the current exam. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are less, and this number changes when the British Council updates the questions.

Book a Class Today

If you found this article useful, you’ll love my classes. I’ve helped hundreds of students achieve the IELTS score they dreamed of, and I’d like you to be the next success story. I help people with both conversational classes and IELTS speaking test preparation.

Here's what two of my students have had to say about me:

“Very interesting lesson, we had a useful conversation about different topics and Matthew corrected me to improve my vocabulary and grammar.”
— Philippe, France🇫🇷

“Matthew is a fun, easygoing and intelligent teacher that makes you feel at ease from minute one. He's very versatile too. I'd recommend anyone to book a lesson with him!”
— Gina, Spain🇪🇸

👋 Say hello to me today, and let’s get started by scheduling a class at the link below. 👋

https://www.verbling.com/teachers/ieltsmatthew
February 24, 2020
Profile Picture
$25.00
USD/h

Matthew Bradley

5.0
$25.00
USD/h
Flag
English
globe
United Kingdom
time
27
Speaks:
English
Native
I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
Flag
English
globe
United Kingdom
time
27
Speaks:
English
Native
I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!