I have found over the years that gift giving is an art form.
I'm not talking about the pretty boxes and bags, the ribbons and bows and fancy paper that one bedecks the gift in because frankly I purchase mountains upon mountains of that type of stuff and then never actually use it. I am the mother of all procrastinators and having the time to wrap a gift into a thoughtful and beautiful package five minutes before the occasion on which I need to give said gift is impossible. I envy those who take the time to carefully and thoughtfully wrap a gift in amazing packaging so that every moment of recieving the gift is special and wonderful for the recipient. Those who include a thoughtful, well written card on the top of every box (especially if those cards are hand-made)...I envy them, too for I am not a multi-layer gift giver. If you are to recieve a gift from me it will be in the form of a gift OR a card (many times the cards are hand-made,though maybe not recently, by me). Very rarely will one recieve both from me.
Gift giving is about the person recieving the gift. Yes, giving someone a well thought out gift makes a person feel a special sense of pride and accomplishment when the recipient's face lights up in a "just what I always wanted" kind of way but ultimately one should refrain from giving a gift if one is doing it for purely selfish reasons. Because there is nothing worse than carefully opening a beautifully wrapped package layer by layer just to find something that really does not interest you in the slightest bit. Why, I ask, would you spend all that time, energy and money to wrap something that is so obviously wrong for a person?
Case in point, I once recieved an electric sander as a Christmas gift. I love the gift giver dearly, but seriously, I would have preferred no gift at all with an "I'm sorry I couldn't find anything to suit you" than a gift that would make me cring everytime I heard it's grating, disgusting sound (I have a well-known fear and an aversion to anything sandpaper like--nail files and electric sanders included). That, my dears, is where the gift card comes in.
I will admit, though, that I have a hard time buying the perfect gifts for my Dear Hubby and my children. Not because I don't know them, but because I have a tendency to provide them with anything their hearts desire when it's not holiday time and I am left with no ideas when those pesky holidays roll around. I do give it my best shot and I think that I have scored a few times but usually I resort to what's on their lists. Which still means that they get what they want but I don't get to see the absolute joy on their faces (I am selfish that way).
A gift card is the best gift ever. Why? Because I can really get what I want and not what someone thinks I might want. Yes, it can be considered the lazy way out for some people and yes, that is what I will normally buy if I do not know enough about you to choose something more fitting (which isn't often), but for me a gift card is a hug in a box. The gift giver's way of saying I know you and I know that you would just prefer the "day away from the kids to go shopping for whatever you really want" kind of gift. A gift card in my world is always used to purchase something that I wouldn't normally buy and therefore would probably never get otherwise. It is a gift, after all and shouldn't be treated as extra money to buy groceries.
But I digress. The real topic at hand is the Art Form that is gift giving. I have been told that I have a knack for it. Why? Because I listen to the little things that people mention they want or they like or they need. Because I pay attention to who a person is deep down inside and make sure the gift reflects who the person is at heart. Want some examples? Here you go...I purchased a set of soup spoons for a friend that had a habit of stealing them from the restaurants she visited on occasion because she could never find a place (or the money) to purchase them for herself. She loved it. I also found a way to give a friend her hearts desire...a Dodge Ram Pick-Up Truck...by having a picture of it screen printed onto a t-shirt for her to wear. Consequently, I also knew that particular friend was in need of non-ratty t-shirts to wear. Then there is a friend's daughter that I have had conversations with about reading. I know the type of book she likes and was able to pass along one of my favorites from when I was that age. She loved it. And lastly, I filled a box with small, individually wrapped presents each with their own tag and saying to send to a friend far away. Each thing was very inexpensive but purchased for a reason that would be known to her immediately upon unwrapping. She was alone in a new place on a holiday and my gift not only consumed her time alone but gave her good memories and good thoughts of "her home". It became an experience for her and not just a gift.
My point? Pay attention people.
The Rules of Gift Giving (as set down by me...a self-titled Gift Giving Goddess!)
1) Pay attention to the person you are giving a gift to. Watch and listen for hints and clues that can lead you to the perfect gift.
2) Give something that the person needs, wants or may not purchase for themselves.
3) NEVER give a gift of something that you know the person is not interested in. Do Not shove your interests on someone else.
4) Always wrap the gift in a beautiful package to make the gift more of an experience. (Yeah, yeah, do what I say and not what I do)
5) If you attach a card, or your gift is a card itself, always write something thoughtful and meaningful inside.
6) If you are giving a gift card as a gift, always wrap it in tissue paper and place ina small box or else insert it into a thoughful card with a hand-written message.
7) Re-gifting is okay...but only those gifts from people who did not follow the rules as set forth by me and only if you re-wrap it and add a thoughtful card.
8) Money spent does not matter. An inexpensive gift can be just as wonderful as a very expensive one if it is thought out and given for the right reasons.
9) Aim for the sky. Get the "This is what I never knew I always wanted" response from everyone you give a gift to.
10) Give gifts to make others happy...not to make yourself feel more fulfilled. In the end it will be more rewarding for you anyway.
Post Script: This post was brought upon by the fact that my mother's birthday is next week (Don't worry, Mom, I haven't forgotten!) and I have been paying attention to the little things so that I can pick out the perfect gift for her...Guess what...I GOT IT!!!