You’ve probably heard the saying “It’s better to give than to receive.” It’s one I can relate to — I love that feeling of wandering through the shops (or internet) until you find that one perfect thing that your friend will absolutely go nuts for. It’s a big emotional kick.
Getting presents can sometimes be comparatively unrewarding — especially now I’m at an age where family still want to give me birthday and Christmas presents, but aren’t quite sure what to get. They don’t see me every day, so they have less of an idea of what I want, and now that I’m an adult with a job I can get the things I need. But they won’t be persuaded that they could send a card or call without an accompanying gift. Therefore they ask me what I would like.
I used to feel this took a lot of the fun out of it, but now I’ve realized that I can get all meta about it. What I’m really doing, I’ve decided, is giving them the gift of giving. Plus, I get to keep the physical gift. That’s a definite bonus.
So here are my tips for when someone asks you for a list of present ideas:
Consider your relationship to them
- My Grandmother really values things with connections to people, and loves her jewellery collection, much of which has links to her family. A good gift idea from her would be a watch for special occasions that I could use for years to come and think of her.
- My sister is really open with her thoughts and feelings. A good thing to ask from her would be a copy of her favourite book from the year.
- My husband loves getting active with me. A good suggestion for him would be some kind of experience gift that we can do together.
Be aware of people’s budgets
This can be a hard one, since people don’t always communicate and it’s rude to ask. But it was a fairly safe bet that whilst my sister was still at school, her budget was going to be a bit less than a fiver, whereas my parents would have felt a present of that monetary value was not a “proper” present. Shop for your happy, but if there’s something you want and it’s close to a gift giving occasion, consider postponing that purchase and suggesting it as a gift idea. You’ll get the same amount of joy (possibly more) from the thing if someone else gives it to you, and they’ll get the warm glow of knowing they contributed to that happiness.
Leave room for creativity
Last year after being asked for Christmas present ideas by my dad we suggested that he could give us a bottle of whiskey or similar to start our spirits collection in our new home. I thought this was a very clever gift idea, one that could be recycled for years to come. We got whiskey, cognac, baileys, sherry, rum and gin, because what Dad really likes is to be extravagant with his children. We were suitably bowled over!
For me, recognizing the fact that the reason my family were asking what to get me was because it mattered to them to “get it right” helped me to overcome any odd feelings about asking for presents. Now I see it’s about maximizing the enjoyment from the gift giving occasion for both of us.