Is Gift Giving a Lost Art? Throw Out These 3 Myths to Become a Great Gift Giver
What has been the most special or memorable gift you’ve ever received?
Was it one you’d been longing for? Or one you weren’t expecting at all.
Was it an over-the-top gift or a small, simple, yet impactful gift?
Sometimes we receive a gift we didn’t even know we’d love.
This might be the best kind of gift. Usually, they’re gifts the giver put a lot of thought into—a gift they believed fit us perfectly. One they hunted for, wrapped carefully, and waited in excitement for us to open.
This kind of gift-giving seems to be rare these days. It’s almost like this kind of gift-giver is a mystical creature, one only written into books and movie characters. But they don’t have to be.
You can become this kind of gift-giver.
The Gift Card Dilemma
In a world where convenience is king and immediate gratification reigns, we’re led to believe a gift card is the best gift of all. I mean on some level it makes sense right?
A gift card allows the recipient to choose whatever they want. We give the gift of choice when we give a gift card. You can even send an e-gift card right to someone’s email—no wrapping necessary. Quick and convenient without much thought.
But here’s the thing—many people don’t get around to using them most of the time. This means they aren’t even giving themselves a gift that’s already paid for!
A survey this year shows that “47% of adults currently have at least one unused gift card, voucher, or store credit.” So really, the convenience of a gift card is more for the giver than the receiver.
There’s a time and place for gift cards, that’s for sure. But there’s something magical about getting a gift the giver has spent time and energy deciding on and finding—just for you.
A Little History About Gift Giving
As humans, we’re social beings. We form relationships, interact with others in some form on a daily basis, and rely on knowledge and experience from others to help us grow. As a result, we want to show people we care about them. We’re thankful for their presence in our lives.
And one of the ways we show our feelings is through the act of giving gifts.
A quick search shows gift-giving goes back as far as human beings existed. Tribal leaders gave gifts as a show of appreciation, honor, and respect to members who showed courage or fortitude.
At feasts and wedding celebrations families exchanged gifts and goods to show their care and love for the relationships.
Handcrafted gifts were made using the tools, skills, and resources that were accessible. And each gift included the sacrifice of time—the time it takes to grow a harvest, the time it takes to carve wood, the time it takes to hunt, the time it takes to sew.
With modern society and advanced civilization, gift-giving changed. The giver doesn’t have to also be the creator who puts in the time—they can simply be the buyer.
But you can capture that same kind of feeling when you give a gift the receiver knows you spent time finding and deciding on.
Myths of Gift Giving
There are two common phrases I’ve heard or read about when it comes to giving gifts.
I just don’t know what to get them.
It’s so hard to find the perfect gift.
We’ve all been there. This is especially true when you’re trying to meet a deadline like a birthday in two days or it’s Christmas Eve. In these times it really does feel impossible to find the right gift!
(There are some gift-giving tips and tricks for when you’re at crunch time and need something quick, but that’s a blog for a different time.)
When it comes to the art of gift-giving there are some myths you’ll want to watch out for. These myths keep you from becoming the magical gift-giver that everyone loves and admires—the gift-giver you can become.
Myth #1: Gifts Must Be Extravagant To Be Remembered
We live in a culture that promotes the idea of bigger is better. Phrases like, “Go big or go home” and “new and improved”, give us the idea we have to give the latest, greatest, biggest gifts. But this just isn’t true.
I’d bet your answer to the most memorable gift question above wasn’t the latest thing on the market. Those things are fun. But they aren’t what impacts your heart. And a great gift does.
A great gift creates a connection between the gift giver and the receiver that’s special.
What people keep throughout their life, aren’t the new phones or kitchen gadgets they received. People keep things they connect to, things that bring back feelings of the moment or experience.
Journals with a handwritten note inside or a mug designed with memorable pictures are items people have difficulty parting with and make for “perfect” gifts. They are perfect because they are meaningful.
Myth #2: Finding the Perfect Gift Takes Too Much Time
It’s true that deciding on a gift someone will love does take some time. And the pressure to find a “perfect gift” can be overwhelming—and probably not actually possible. But it doesn’t have to feel like it takes massive amounts of time and energy to find a really great gift for someone you care about.
The secret to the art of gift-giving is listening and paying attention.
We all give off clues about what’s important to us, what we enjoy, and what is meaningful. Throughout the year when you are with loved ones be observant and think about these questions.
- What do they talk about most?
- What experiences have they had recently or want to have again?
- What do they need?
- Who do they spend the most time with?
- What creates stress for them?
- What do they enjoy most about their job, family, or hobbies?
When you pick up on these answers, they’ll be the clues that lead you to a gift the receiver is sure to love. And it could also be a solution to what they need.
Once you get into the habit of listening for clues throughout the year, the gift-giving process won’t seem to take as long.
This is because your brain has already been thinking about it subconsciously which means you’re already more prepared than you realize.
Myth #3: Gifts Must Be Things
We’ve been talking about giving things as gifts. But gifts are also experiences, stories, and of course time.
A family trip, murder mystery dinner, concert, scenic drive, or picnic are incredible gifts that create the kind of memories you hold onto, reliving them long after they’re over.
It’s giving the gift of being together that makes it special.
And time—the elusive thing we never seem to have enough of.
Giving the gift of time can look like hiring a company once a month—or taking the time yourself—to clean the house of your aging parents or your sister who’s a single mom.
Giving your time to helping others is also giving the gift of stress reduction. And who doesn’t need less stress in their life?
I remember growing up and giving coupon books to family members because time and service is all I had to give. As adults, we should bring back the coupon book!
Using our time and service to come together and help others is one of the greatest gifts we could ever give.
Become a Great Gift Giver
Giving gifts isn’t only for the person who receives them. It makes you, the gift-giver, feel good too. Because giving is about connections and as people we need connections.
Whether it’s for Christmas, a birthday, Bosses Day, or a gift to say “I’m thinking of you”, you have the ability to be a gift-giver whose gifts are meaningful, special, and “perfect.”
Forget about the myths that keep you from trying to find a great gift.
Embrace the art of gift-giving for the people in your life whose eyes will light up when they receive your gift. It’ll be worth it.
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