It’s better to give than receive, according to the Bible. But, that really depends on how much thought we’ve put into giving.
I’ve gotten pretty lazy over the years.
When I was younger I invested a great deal of thought and energy into gift-giving. The brainstorming began well in advance of the occasion; the Christmas lists got started right after Halloween.
When thinking about the recipient, I asked myself the following:
- Do they have any hobbies
- What are their clothing preferences
- Do they enjoy books, movies, both, or not at all
- What is their favorite cologne or personal care item
- What do they normally spend their own money on
- What do they need
If I required more inspiration I’d flip through various catalogs. Remember those?
Can you imagine being a postal carrier when the J.C. Penney Spring/Summer edition came out? No need to hit the gym after delivering those hefty tomes!
Then came the shopping, which involved leaving the house. Yes, we could do mail orders either by phone or snail mail, but the latter could take up to three weeks. In those days Amazon was a river in South America and prime was a type of number.
Once the purchase was made the next step was packaging. It was important to choose the appropriate gift wrap and coordinating bow. If Mom hates cats you don’t wrap her gift in kitty paper.
Then came card shopping, which could easily take an hour. I love reading them. If you lose me in a store that has a card section just head over there. That’s where you’ll find me, usually giggling hysterically.
Nowadays, things are much different. I generally give gift cards to a business or restaurant that the person patronizes. Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite as effortless (i.e. lazy) as writing a check.
It’s then tucked into a greeting card which was chosen within five minutes.
Bada-boom, all done.
So, why the drastic change in mindset? Is this a sign of aging, gift fatigue, or both?
Feeling guilty about my cavalier attitude, I decided to make some changes. After a bit of research I concluded the following:
Forget the “Wow” factor
When selecting gifts you may want to achieve a big reveal moment. This occurs when the recipient expresses a dramatic reaction, usually a result of your spending too much money.
One long-ago Christmas I came across a toy that so impressed me I just had to order it for my kids. It was unaffordable and last-minute, so I also paid extra for expedited shipping. I was convinced they would be thrilled. Their reaction to it was equal to the $20 presents under the tree. I basically spent $100 to “wow” myself.
The lesson here is to think long-term, don’t assume they’ll like it just because you do, and stay within your budget.
Don’t surprise them
In addition to the wow factor, you may want to surprise them, as well. This often involves purchasing something totally unexpected and that can backfire. Their only surprise might be your odd choice in gifts. It’s safer to give something that was requested and add the element of surprise with an upgrade. (Or an add-on gift like one of those cans where the snake pops out.)
A good idea goes a long way
It’s okay to give everyone the same present. You don’t have to buy something different for each person. A new, exciting idea is new and exciting for everybody. Plus, you can always individualize the wrapping paper and bows!
There’s no shame in regifting
If you receive a bottle of Cabernet and hate Cabernet, I’ll be thrilled to receive it. No questions asked. (BTW…my birthday is coming up in March…)
Don’t decide for them
Sometimes the best gifts are the ones we give ourselves. Give your loved one the gift of choice via a gift card and let them decide. Just be sure the gift certificate/card is to a store or business they actually shop at.
It’s also helpful to think in the short-term. Gift cards can be forgotten if not used right away. So, think about the person’s current desires. A college student needs textbooks; a crafter needs crafting supplies; a wine drinker needs wine (Cabernet…in March.)
A Journal of Consumer Research study found that while givers rate gifts on desirability, recipients rate them on feasibility.
Givers focus more on sentiment and less on practicality. Receivers would rather get items they want or need.
We devote a considerable amount of time and money throughout the year for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, showers, graduations, and Christmas.
Therefore, while you might have an idea for a great gift, the tips above could make it better…and easier!