As we lead up to the days before Christmas, I have been asked to write about the art of giving gifts.
How many times have you received a gift and wondered, “why did I get that?”
I do believe that the giving of a well thought out gift is nearly impossible these days. People have access to everything, all the time. So, how do you determine if we’re all just jaded and spoilt, or if we can shift our perception and return to the source of giving?
It really is the thought that matters.
I recall when I was about 10 years old, my father gave my mother an iron for her birthday. I thought he was being very practical and thoughtful as he had noticed that mum’s iron was on the verge of dying. As you can imagine, mum did not find the gift pleasing at all. She actually threw the boxed iron at my father and declared him a heathen.
To this day, I don’t understand how a practical gift, or a sentimental gift, is deemed more or less appropriate? I may be a little odd, but I actually enjoy ironing. When my father asked me last year what I wanted for Christmas, I actually asked him for the latest, fancy steam iron. Go figure!
A girlfriend asked me recently if I thought it was acceptable to offer a child a charitable gift; a goat for an impoverished third world village, for example. I actually thought that it was a fantastic gift for children who “have everything”. Not only does it make the giver feel good, it should be a warming gift to the child, who can now also consider himself benevolent, but, at it’s very core, it is giving the gift of life to the villagers. Obviously, it does show that the gift giver isn’t so close to the child, as it isn’t such a personal item. But nonetheless, they are generous and thoughtful enough to give a gift at all.
Another gift that has made me think is when my daughter was given a bunch of shares after her birth. I thought it very generous a gift, but every year receive statements telling how much money/shares she has. It has grown somewhat, and that’s fantastic, but it did always seem quite impersonal. Until recently, when the giver asked me how those shares were doing. After sharing the update, she was happy to admit that she originally gave those shares to my daughter so that when she was 18 or older, she could use that money to buy herself a car or maybe choose to use the funds as the deposit for something even more important. All of a sudden I thought this a terrific gesture. Well thought out and less practical than thoughtful.
I don’t know how personal or appropriate gifts are these days, so I thought I’d do the research. I’m about to offer one of my best friends a face cream that I’ve enjoyed because it minimises my wrinkles. Is this a no-no?
Well, after extensive checking, it seems that logic and thoughtfulness are the right way to choose gifts. The closer you are to the person, ie, your best friend or family, then the gift should be of a more personal and thoughtful nature. The further away you are from that person, the more generic can be the gift.
I’ve always thought that homemade gifts were more about the giver wanting to show her talents in basket weaving, than about the giving. But then, I have been known to knit a scarf or two and then pass them to friends for a lovely winter gift.
As to re-gifting. It appears that most reputable sources declare that re-gifting is a big no-no. I can’t think of anything more silly. How is it rude to give a lovely gift to someone that you’re never going to use yourself. It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if my friends forwarded one of my gifts.
Giving makes you feel good. Receiving a gift makes you feel good. Does it really matter what it is as long as you feel good?