People have been giving gifts to each other since the dawn of time. It is a way we show that we care about someone by giving them something that we think they might like. There are many kinds of gifts, from sharing a snack, a flower from the side of the road, hard cash, a book, an expensive piece of jewellery or a heartfelt letter.
Even though we give and receive so many gifts – such as for birthdays, holidays and anniversaries – choosing the right gift is a difficult job. To give a good gift, you need to know the person’s needs and interests, have decent tastes and be original to some degree. Otherwise, you make the mistake of giving them something that they already have, will never use or find absolutely boring.
So what makes for a good gift? Some people may take the consumerist approach of giving an expensive gift, because it shows the other person how much they are worth to them. To practical people, the best gift may be something that the person needs at that moment, such as a new pencil case or furniture. Some may even say that they would rather give cash so the person can buy what they want instead of you having to guess it.
The problem with the above approaches is that they miss the point of gift-giving. The best gift is a gift that we got for someone because we sincerely wanted to – because we felt that this gift might bring a smile to the person receiving it. Gifts do not hold absolute value; they are not something you should treat like transactions, nor must they fulfil a certain purpose. They hold relative value, in that the value of the gift lies in how the person receiving it feels when they open it up.
For example, cash is useful, but it says nothing about how well you know someone. An expensive necklace is pretty, but anyone with enough money can buy it. If the person is financially stable, they can buy things that they need themselves. A small gift that makes the person feel special and loved is far more valuable than any jewellery.
Here are some alternative types of gifts if you cannot think of a decent gift.
The first are experiences. Money cannot buy happiness, but they can buy experiences that leave everlasting memories, such as a fancy dinner or skydiving.
The second are things that they would be hesitant or not consider buying for themselves, even if they would enjoy them. This may be an experience like above, such as a degustation, or an investment in to their hobby such as a better instrument or accessory.
Lastly, consider giving the gift of time. These are gifts that may not have much financial value, but they hold sentimental value and that require the investment of your own time. Examples include: a scrapbook of your special memories with that person, dedication of practising a performance for the person, or a mix of songs you think the person would enjoy. Because in our busy lives, the scarcest, most valuable resource is our time. By spending our precious free time to create something that celebrates our connection with the recipient of the gift, we can truly show how much we care about that person. It also ticks the box of being original and useful, because each connection is unique and they can be looked back on for nostalgia.
A gift is only as good as how the person feels when they receive it. Instead of showing how much you care through materialism, try showing how well you know them as a person and how much you value the connection that you share. A thoughtless gift is no better than not giving a gift at all.
(Image source: Puuung http://www.grafolio.com/puuung1)