In the early months of my parents’ relationship, my mum met my dad’s mother. She took her a gift. It was nothing fancy but a goodwill gesture that implied something along the lines of ‘I come in peace’. My grandmother received it awkwardly, unwrapped it, left the room and came back with a box of something she’d pulled from the cupboard wrapped in the very same paper.
Honestly. Families are weird.
Admittedly, there are more factors at play here than simply etiquette, Mum’s future mother-in-law had a general dislike for anyone who dated my father. So perhaps this is a bad example to begin with but it is a neat segue into gifting.
Finding the perfect item for someone is THE BEST THING EVER! I get so much joy from this it may even be one of my favourite things. Being in a position to give is a privilege I will never take for granted. With Christmas looming, I thought I’d share my gifting philosophy – at times it’s a little unconventional.
Working in retail for many years of my life, it fascinated me how people would like something more if it was the right price, or rather, the amount they’d mentally assigned to spend on the giftee. There’s obviously logic here and I’m also governed by what I can afford, but if my gift is cheaper than expected I try to resist the inclination to add to my present. Especially if it’s purely for the sake of matching my budget. Next year, I might find just what I want to a little more than budget and I reckon it all evens out. Social expectation has us in fear of appearing mean when it really is the thought that counts.
I switch on my gifting-radar and leave it on all year. Much like the police are tuned into suspicious behaviour and writers think about plotlines on the way to the store, I’m constantly on the lookout for gift ideas. I start thinking about Christmas in January and birthdays months in advance, this is especially important for people I consider difficult to buy for. It also takes the stress out of it financially because my gift-buying is more evenly distributed through the year and it removes that last minute panic because I buy it when I see it.
I have a present drawer. This sounds more organised than it actually is. I really should label stuff when I put it in because a few times a year I find myself rummaging through it, trying to remember who I bought what.
The gift of time. Offering to baby sit or making yourself available for an afternoon of room-painting can be welcome help for the right people. For those arty-crafty-creative types, taking the time to make gifts is rewarding and personal.
The common card. It’s the simplest way to let people know you’re thinking of them. A thoughtful, simple, beautiful, delightful or humorous card that appeals to the receiver’s sensibilities can be the perfect gift in itself.
The important thing is, give because you want to and expect nothing in return.
Gifts are unconditional.
We’re blogging every day in the month of November! I think I’m actually getting the hang of this.