Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Art of Gift Giving

This past weekend was my birthday. It was a very low key celebration with my family. My present was a bag of cherries. I know people who might find this disappointing, but cherries are my favorite fruit. And a bag of cherries that I don't have to share, sheer bliss.
Mine. All mine.
This got me thinking about gift giving. There are those who think gift giving has to be a big production (fancy paper, sparklers, etc).

I once dated a man who was of the opinion that you showed people how much you cared by the amount of money you spent. He gave me a pair of earrings with the receipt, so I would know exactly how much he had spent on me. And also, how much I should spend on him. (Just one of many reasons he's an ex.)
And then there are the spoilsports who think it's all a massive waste of time and we would all be better off if we just exchanged gift cards.

But shopping for other people is one of my favorite activities. It's much more fun than shopping for myself. And I prefer having a price limit, because it means you have to be creative.

Rules for Gift Giving

Toys are not limited to adults. I have had amazingly positive results giving toys to adults (particularly men). Why should kids have all the fun? One of the best presents I ever received was a Lego pirate ship.
Corollary rule, when giving toy guns, you must give two. There's no point in a gun fight where there is no opponent. One of my best Christmas presents ever, I gave my father and brother (combined age well over 70) marshmallow guns. This was a total hit, and the dog was thrilled too, because he ate all the marshmallows that hit the floor.
Cost is not important, thoughtfulness is. I gave a friend herb plants from the nursery (Total cost $6.00) because I knew she was starting an herb garden.  Not an expensive gift, but I showed that I was paying attention to her life. Later that year, she made me pesto.
Don't give people what you want. Remember the Simpsons episode where Homer gave Marge a bowling ball,inscribed with his name, for her birthday? She started going bowling and leaving the kids with him, (and nearly starting an affair with her bowling instructor). Serve him right. 

Try to get people something nicer than they would normally buy for themselves. That beautiful scarf, that they would never buy because it's too expensive. The large bottle of their favorite fragrance. Or in my case, a whole bag of cherries.

Give things they can use. My mother will probably disinherit me if I give her another tchoke she has to dust. So I give her wine, her favorite almond-scented body lotion, and flowers (Technically, not a a useful item, but they don't have to be dusted.)
Sometimes inspiration strikes. Two years ago, my father gave me a glow-in-the-dark jellyfish paperweight. It turned out to be the gift I never knew I wanted.  Things like this can be amazing, but they can also backfire. Be careful.
If someone has a cat (or dog) do not give them cat/dog themed stuff. I admit, this is a personal pet peeve of mine. I have the living, breathing, shedding animal in my house. I don't need statuettes, cookie cutters, tea cozies, calenders, sweaters or other cute animal-themed stuff. Thank you.
And lastly, everyone flubs it now and again, so get gift receipts, and don't take it personally. You tried, and it is the thought that counts.

1 comment:

  1. That final caveat is true of hobbies in general: Seems like once someone knows you like to do something (running, golfing, whatever), everything he or she buys you from then to eternity will reference the hobby. Yes, I run. No, I don't need dozens of t-shirts that reference running.

    Love all these points. Spot on.