A SHORT GUIDE TO BECOMING A GREAT GIFT GIVER
It’s an art, let’s face it. Major moments in history have been defined by the gifts passed from one hand to another; there were the gifts of the three wise men (where the whole Christmas tradition started), the Statue of Liberty (a Gustaf Eiffel creation gifted to the United States by France), and of course, the Trojan Horse (which ended rather badly for the City of Troy). The great gifts in history were, admittedly, somewhat grandiose, but what all the best gifts have in common is that a lot of thought goes into them. Whether starting your Christmas shopping early or looking for something to celebrate a special birthday or milestone, ask yourself these five questions.
DO YOU SHOP FOR YOURSELF?
On rare occasions, you might be so in sync with someone that you can just get them whatever you would actually get yourself – and it will all be fine. But in most cases, giving someone a gift that is so obviously something you would want may come across as selfish. It can say anything from “I didn’t give this much thought,” to “I like it, so you should,” or at worst, “If you don’t like it, I’ll take it back.” However the message behind your gift is construed, it’s not good. Gift giving is not about you.
DO YOU GIVE IT MUCH THOUGHT?
If every gift you gave were a project, where would you find time to do anything else? But to those closest to you, put in the time. That doesn’t mean dawdling around the V&A for hours and hours, though. It starts with the thought you put into the gift. Make a list of options, think of the story you want to tell with the gift, and what you want that person to feel when they open your gift. The gift itself is the easy part – your choice is what’s important.
IS IT EVER ABOUT THE MONEY?
It may sound like something only rich people say, but it’s true, no matter what your means. Sometimes, a bottle filled with sand from the place where you shared your first kiss can mean more than an expensive bottle of perfume. On the other hand, cutting back on one or two restaurant outings to pay for a silver tea set that someone special to you mentioned more than once, is so worth it when you see the look of amazement and gratitude on their face.
DO YOU MAKE IT PERSONAL?
There are few opportunities to show someone how much you care about them than with the act of gifting. And although simply buying something in a shop is not taboo, have you ever considered personalising a shop-bought gift? A simple ribbon around a slab of whole nut chocolate adds a touch of personality that has very little to do with the quality of the chocolate and more to do with the care that went into it. When faced with the conundrum of what to buy someone who’s got everything, consider buying them an experience – especially something you know they’ll appreciate – even when you know they can afford it. They point is, you’re making it personal.
DO YOU EVER GET CRAFTY?
Maybe you make wood-carved toys on the side, or love to bake. There’s a reason the word “homemade” is such a selling point. It means you can’t get it just anywhere, and it means it was personal, whether those butter biscuits originated in your kitchen, or you got them at the corner café in your local neighbourhood. But this is where presentation becomes all important. Don’t put your creation in an old ice cream container. Look for something pretty or unusual, like a vintage ice bucket or crystal vase – something you can use again and that will brighten up a space. In the end, it’s more about the thought and care that went into a gift than anything else. And never forget to write a card in your own hand.