How often have you been stuck for ideas to come up with the right gift for someone special, or for an important social occasion? Expressing yourself through gifts is a dying art in an age where everyone seems to have everything already. Busy lives means that people have no time to spend on pounding the shops (or is it online stores?) to chance upon the right gift. Gifting, however, is a very important personal and social ritual. If anything, in our increasingly complex world, the right gift at the right time can break through the clutter and help you and the person you want to present a gift to come closer. For the purposes of this exploration let’s call you the gifter and the recipient of the gift p, the giftee (both are words that will be frowned upon by the English puritan, but it makes things easier to explain).
Even with the challenges outlined above it is possible to arrive at the right gifting idea with a little planning.
The first kind of meaningful gift would be something that concerns a person’s interests and would enhance his or her life in ways he or she wants. Try these steps:
1. The “Like” List – List the range of things the person likes. For example, chocolates, Manchester United Football Club, leather jackets, self-winding watches, pets, etc. and you might find an object that connects several of these things. Like a Manchester United branded leather jacket!
2. The “Do” list – Meeting friends, clubbing, travelling, dancing are things that the giftee likes to do; add things the person does not like to do – for example, travelling over water, dieting, driving. Maybe this person can be bought a sampler of a dance or Zumba class that keeps her fit, able to avoid dieting, eat chocolates at will and gets her dancing!
3. The “Have” List – If you’re close enough to the person to know what she owns, this should be easy. If she has a car but no roofed garage, buy her some cool car cleaning kit. If she has a home theatre system but not a lot of DVDs, buy her a collection of her favourite TV shows or some classic movies.
If you don’t find anything exclusive with the above methods, you have to raise your game!
If you have the time and energy, and really want to make an impression, here are some options:
1. Can you find out about that one thing that the giftee has been looking forward to, or wants? Hard-to-get tickets to a show or a game, visit to a particular place (park, picnic spot, place of spiritual significance etc.) or a special spot in town… organizing a trip to a place like that is something the giftee will remember and appreciate.
2. In our overcrowded city world, a journey back to nature can be surprising and highly rewarding. There are a number of farm-stays and nature trips increasingly available all over the world. Fruit-picking, wine-crushing, cow-milking and grain-sowing are just some of the delightful activities accessible to the city-types. If you’re already on a farm, take to the forest and add hiking, kayaking and camping to the experience.
3. Organize a party. This is a big one. Show your love by sharing it. It doesn’t have to be expensive if you get your giftee’s admirers, friends and family involved. If it’s in honour of your giftee, or just to help you express what you want to say, it will go a long way in getting the message across in the right way. There is little that can be compared with the appreciation from your peers and from those you love and respect. If you happen to be the one who put it all together… that’s just wonderful.
4. Encourage the artist in the giftee. Everyone has an artist hidden in him or her. It doesn’t matter if a person’s ability to sing, play an instrument, paint, dance or write is made into a profession or not. Some of the world’s greatest painters, writers and musicians had remained amateurs for a greater part of their lives and many never ever turned it into a vocation. There are many ways to encourage the inner artist. Presenting someone a musical instrument that he has stopped playing (to help him begin again), or getting an amateur a small gig, even an informal audience of friends and family, taking a writer’s work to a literary club or having a painter’s work put up in an exhibition – all of these can go beyond mere gifting and may even have a potential life-changing impact on the person as well as you.
Now let’s come to the big daddy of gifting, that is, making your giftee something with your own hands. It doesn’t matter if you’re good with that sort of thing, although it would make it easier if you’re a master baker, an expert sculptor or a motorcycle builder. What matters most is the thought and the energy you put into the creation.
Cooking an unusual dish or baking something is a sweet expression of what you want to say. Try sculpting something out of wood – there are quite a few YouTube videos that can take you through the steps of that process. Find a craftsman in your locality who can help you make something under his supervision. Investing in this kind of time will be as rewarding for the gifter as well as giftee, something you share and cherish. Try and see if a jeweler or goldsmith can be your guide. Perhaps you can design and make something out of a precious metal for your loved one. Imagine crafting the ring you want to give your partner as a symbol of your promise, love and trust.
You can take gifting to any heights. Of course, the amount of money you can spend will make a difference but it’s not the most important part of a gift. Your efforts to go the distance, be thoughtful, surprising, sensitive and attentive will be more treasured than anything money can buy. Your gift is merely the carrier, or bridge, for the connection between you. Best of all, gifts don’t have to have a reason.