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A Thankful Gift-Giver

I may be the world’s worst gift giver. Though my mom and sisters seem to have an uncanny knack to give gifts that are thoughtful, charming, and unique, the gene is conspicuously absent in me. Every year, I encounter the struggle: do I get Friend X, Y or Z a necklace? A parakeet? A riding lawn mower? Usually, I’m so overwhelmed I end up purchasing a cute yet generic present you might give to someone you barely know. 

This year, I’ve done what any self-respecting, smartphone-wielding, 34-year-old would do: I googled how to be a better gift-giver. As expected, the results were wide and varied, and some, while valid, were so generic they deepened my gifting quagmire (“Give them something they want, not what they need”). However, two ideas stuck with me: people tend to enjoy enriching experiences over stuff, and long-term satisfaction and use of a gift matter more than the initial reaction.

So, first up is how to pick an experience? The best ones always seem to recharge you. Anytime you are transported out of your day-to-day routine into a situation where you can unplug and live in the moment, it provides a reset button to your life. You leave your experience looking at the world with fresh eyes, eager to tackle whatever comes your way. For an enriching experience, give something that would fit well in the sentence “Wouldn’t it be fun if we…?” 

The second point was that people often give gifts that get a big reaction in the moment, but then end up gathering dust without being put to real use. Think about how much the recipient can get out of it – a coffee mug they will use every day, a wine aerator, cozy slippers. Every time that gift is used, it brings joy to the receiver, and isn’t that why we give in the first place? 

All in all, I feel calmer about this holiday season. The snow will come, families and friends will gather and, at my house at least, someone will be pleasantly surprised at the gift they get from me.

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