Making Your Presents Known
Gift giving can be an activity fraught with anxiety and mis-judgement. It can set you up for ever-increasing expectations or make you come off as a cheapskate. It can be all at once an act of diplomacy, one-upmanship, or a demonstration of deep understanding. However you look at it, the art of gift giving is a trait that many of us struggle with, but is it a natural talent or something anyone can learn?
Technically, gift options are virtually limitless if the aim is merely presenting someone with a bought item of some value that the receiver could buy themselves. However the options become considerably reduced if we consider that just because someone might buy themselves a toaster, it rarely makes for a particularly thoughtful gift. The absence of toast would indeed be a problem solved, but at the expense of a certain personal touch or sentimental value.
Hey Big Spender
An expensive gift is no doubt ideal for creating an impression. But if the impression is ‘‘what an expensive gift giver you are’’, expectations can soon be dashed if you fail to produce consistently valuable presents. This gift-giver also runs the risk of being viewed as a ‘show-off’ who, deep down, is maybe a little competitive and misses the whole point of gifting. When encountering the giver who plays to ‘win’, we must never take part in his imagined game. We will never win.
The Lazy Gift
Nothing says “I ran out of time and ideas” like the lazy, or token, gift. This is typically represented by a general all-purpose gift, such as a box of chocolates or a bottle of mid-priced liquor. While these gifts may be well-suited to an acquaintance, for a close companion or family member, they may come off as “I could have tried harder”. The saving grace of a lazy gift giver is to select more boutique options which would then say, “I may have been pressed for ideas, but I do have taste!”.
The D.I.Y. Alternative
Nowadays, it’s increasingly the ‘done thing’ to simply offer pre-paid gift-cards as presents. Although a great idea, your role in this exchange could be viewed as merely placing a limit on the receiver’s spending amount and the type of shop in which to purchase ‘your’ gift. This present says “I understand you like things. Here’s $50 to buy a thing from a shop that probably has things you might want.” Yes, gift-cards are practical gifts, and arguably you are providing the beneficiary with a shopping experience ‘on you’, but they can also scream, "I am bad at choosing gifts."
The Award Goes To …
While a home-made gift could be a risky proposition, it does have the potential to take out the ‘best gift’ award. It not only requires time and effort, it can literally be custom-built for your intended recipient. If you are the crafty type, a well-considered original artwork is sure to please. In this instance, your effort should be apparent in the end result, so a decent frame and a well-chosen subject make all the difference. Anyone can go to a shop and buy a practical gift, but if you delve into your specific skill-set to produce a unique gift, it is sure to strike that all-important sentimental chord.
The Value of Experience
Much like a disappointing lover, less than stellar gifts that require wrapping and ribbons can quickly lose their sheen once the layers come off. So why not avoid the forgettable trinket gift-trap and shout your giftee, loved or well-liked one an experience instead? This gift could ideally be anything from a day-spa pampering package to a river cruise or a weekend getaway and would provide something non-refundable: a memorable experience to treasure. This is a virtually fool-proof gift option, ideal for a group to pool their funds on, sharing the cost. After all, in this time of tight budgets, luxuries are the first sacrifice at the altar of cost-of-living pressure.
The Thoughtful Gift That Counts
Ultimately the art of gift giving comes down to how you wish your chosen object or experience to reflect you and your feelings for the lucky recipient. The best gifts always target a person’s interests or speak to that certain familiarity shared with those closest to you. A thoughtful gift adds something to the receiver’s life, whether it is convenience, comfort or enjoyment. Just remember, that at no point is anything related to cleaning chores a suitable, well-considered gift idea.