One of the most common confusions that most of my clients face has to do with the topic of gifts. We receive gifts from the people we love but we aren’t exactly in love with the products we have been gifted, and then decide not to use them or give them away because god forbid there’s a hidden camera in those gifts and that our loved ones would find out and then the relationship would be over.
What this often leads to is a mountain of physical and emotional clutter and it’s about time in 2019 that we take a different approach towards gift giving this time round from the giver standpoint.
1. Don't be Afraid to Ask
Recently my friends and I played the Secret Santa game where we each had to purchase the item for our Santee based on their wishlist but this time instead of playing it with different riddles we had to state explicitly what each of us wanted. The whole part of stating what we wanted didn’t take the fun out of the entire gift giving process instead, each of us were looking forward to receiving these gifts.
There is really no harm in asking what your friend or family member wants in fact, the gesture of just asking what they want is already showing that you care for them and are thinking of them.
The old notion of giving the right gifts as a way of showing how you are familiar and know the person well enough to get them something that they will treasure is long gone. The fact is people are constantly changing, along with their tastes and preferences. What they used to like may not be something that they are into right now. By asking what the other party desires opens a whole new world of getting to know what their interests are and can spark a deeper level of friendship.
2. Gifts don't Just Have to be Physical Gifts
Have you ever heard of the five love languages? They are 1) acts of service, 2) words of affirmation 3) quality time 4) physical touch 5) receiving gifts. For those of us that are aware of the five love languages, it is often applied to romantic relationships between couples but the love languages can extend to friendships as well.
Have you ever experienced the warm feeling you get when a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time texts you and provides you some words of affirmation that just makes your day especially when you are feeling down? These are some instances that people do to show love and concern to one another and some of the gestures sparks more joy in us than others. And this pertains specifically to each individual’s love language and how this works in tandem with the relationships we have with people.
And gifts aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some of us may perceive gifts as something that are easy to purchase and perhaps not as valuable especially if you are someone with a lot of money. Other things like quality time and acts of service may be harder to come by and thus more valuable.
The ultimate purpose of gift giving doesn’t always necessarily have to pertain to physical “gifts”, rather it is a practice of taking time out to examine how we can be of value to others in whatever way that makes them feel validated and appreciated.
3. Food Items are Great Gifts Too
If you are the type of person that insists on sticking with the tradition of not asking what the other party wants perhaps due to reasons like you are not as close to them but have forged a distant but long tradition of exchanging physical gifts over the years, consider getting perishable items like food.
The thing about food is that we often feel an urgent need to consume it whether we like the gift or not or give it away to someone who would consume it before its best before date. Because food is perishable, there is less chance of physical clutter and the emotional guilt of keeping less valued items for an extended period of time.
Lastly, food is the perfect gift especially for families where it can be easily shared with others around them who may enjoy it more.
4. Give Returnable Gifts
With Black Friday this weekend, most of us may be hunting for the best deals for ourselves or for the people around us to give as gifts (in which case please read my article first), with that said if you already knee-deep in the hunt, purchase items from retailers that have a change-of-mind policy. This applies especially if you are giving items like clothes, skincare or makeup. There are times when the receiver may appreciate those gifts but may not use it for very practical reasons such as size, fit colour or type.
And while you are giving gifts keep an open-door policy and make it okay for your friends or family to exchange or return a gift for something that fits them better. One good way to make sure of this is to write it in a card and keep the price tag on together with the receipt so that they can easily return the items on their own without any awkward conversation after. With competition being very stiff among different retailers these days, it is not difficult to find those that have a flexible return policy.
5. The Most Practical Gift: Money
Perhaps the easiest and most practical gift of all is the gift of money. This is a long-time Chinese tradition that I foresee will always be valued. While giving money can be seen by some as a cold, distant gesture of gift-giving, I believe this aspect of gift-giving would need to be reframed. Money is a great no-waste gift for the receiver to make two choices, either to save it or to use it buy a gift that they desire at any time down the road.
This saves both the giver and receiver any awkward conversations about getting a gift that doesn’t fit. Also, the chances of a professional organizer seeing money lying around the house because a receiver doesn’t know what to do with it but is too polite to give it away or throw it away (because who would throw money away) is totally zero. So there it is a zero-waste, zero-clutter gift.
In conclusion, we need to reframe the old idea of gift-giving that sees us through many riddles and brings us through many phases of passive-aggressive exchanges between friends or family members about gifts we have given and those we have received. Many relationships could have been saved over the years if all of us just stated what we wanted and how we wanted to be loved and validated during the season of gift-giving.
Many of us have kept long-term relationships not necessarily because of the physical gifts that we have received but because of the other non-tangible gifts that we receive from our loved ones on a regular basis as well and we need to be able to see those things as gifts too. Giving gifts for the sake of tradition or religious practice is rather meaningless and believe me when I say that gift-giving is part of my love language, I’ve had my fair share of receiving gifts that did not hold any meaning for me. It is like giving empty words of affirmation like “keep in touch” or “meet up soon”, “let me know if you need my help” when you know that you don’t really mean it, the other party hearing it will know it too. To me, gift-giving is in the process of taking time to sincerely get to know my loved ones better in whatever way that I can be of value.
Still can’t think of a practical gift idea for your loved one? How about professional organising services as a Christmas gift to your family or friend who you think needs some help? Talk to me here to find out more.