Give Better Gifts

Go outside, take a walk in the park or have a meaningful talk with your loved one about gifts and gift-giving.

For it is in giving that we receive.

St. Francis of Assisi

Since when do we show love and appreciation to others with gifts? Why not with hugs and kisses as a reflective action of our childhood?

Gift Giving = Love Transaction

Gift-giving – a transaction of our love.

We all love to receive gifts from others, but giving awakens in us a special feeling of joy, happiness, and fulfillment. 

One might think that the bigger the gift they give or receive, the more affection and love they are giving or receiving. Therefore, in recent years, gifts have become bigger, more expensive, and less personal. We stopped truly thinking about the other person. Now the only thoughts are where to go to buy a gift, how much we plan to spend on it, and whether our choice will impress the recipient. Gone are the days when gifts were thoughtful – small, but special.

 

When I was young, there was not a lot of money because the country was war-laden, but the gifts we received were amazing. We didn’t get lots of plastic crap like they are selling today. There were handmade wooden gifts, plush teddy bears, fruits or candies, and here and there a few high-quality plastic toys. Plastic toys that didn’t get broken 2 days after we received them, but the ones that still today would be playable.

Sadly, the emphasis today is on quantity rather than quality. For various occasions like Christmas, birthdays, or other holidays, kids today receive a boatload of toys. They receive so much that after they finish unwrapping the last toy they forget about the first one they got. And with every subsequent gift they unwrap, the happiness is going down. When they finish unwrapping all the gifts, discontent awaits. As a result, they may ask angrily:  “Why didn’t I get this or that? I really wanted it. I hate you.” But if they only got one toy, they would be happier and more grateful for it.

You Can’t Buy Love with Money

We are strange beings, but it is the same as we grow older. Just by then, gifts are getting bigger and more expensive. The plastic ring won’t be good enough anymore, now there must be a golden one. And then diamond one, and then one-of-a-kind one created by a master. The amount of happiness we can feel has limits, and a ridiculously expensive item won’t make us ridiculously happy. One-of-a-kind ring won’t give us more happiness and satisfaction than a normal one.

If that were the case, money would be closely linked to the level of happiness we experience. But rich people are not the happiest people. We all know it and we have all seen it, yet we want to experience it for ourselves. We think we will be different. If I could only be rich, I would be happy. Such a delusion we tell to ourselves.

No matter how rich we become, no matter how many things we own, the joy from all our things won’t be much different from how we feel right now. There are emotional limitations to the feelings of happiness that we’re able to experience when we obtain something for the first time. Eventually, we all get tired of having the same items, no matter how expensive or classy those items may seem to us.

 

So why spend lots of money on gifts then? Why not give a simple one from the bottom of our hearts? Why not give our most precious gifts, our time, and our attention? We don’t have to spend a cent on such gifts (obviously we can go have experience and spend some money if we want to, but we don’t have to), and the recipient will remember those gifts longer.

 

Maya Angelou said it best in her famous quote:

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Give Better Gifts

If you want to give someone a gift, give them your time. Give them your attention. Give them experiences. This way you will strengthen the bond between you and the people you care about. Both the recipient and you will benefit from this because it will be a shared activity. And you will both create beautiful memories, memories that can never be created by gifting material gifts.

Go for a walk or ride without a clear destination.

Go hiking, backpacking, camping, volunteering.

Watch the sunset or sunrise together.

Make a special meal that the recipient likes.

Be a shoulder to cry on.

Have deep and meaningful conversations.

Leave a sincere praising note.

Give a massage.

Hug people. Kiss them (if you’re close enough – don’t kiss everyone).

The best gift is giving from your heart.

Kevin Heath

Time Waits for No One

Don’t wait for a special reason to give gifts either. Don’t wait for a holiday. Don’t wait Valentine’s day to prepare something special for your spouse. Don’t wait for Mother’s Day to give her a flower and tell her how much she means to you. Don’t wait for friends’ birthday to show them they are important to you.

Our time on Earth is finite, and we never know when it will be our last day. Don’t wait for some special date or occasion to give something to a person you truly care about, that may not be there when the special occasion or date arrives.

Give them today or tomorrow or this Thursday or any other random day. The person who will receive a gift like that won’t expect it. It would be a shock. But a positive one. One that he or she will remember for a long time. Even if you want to buy a material gift, buy the one the receiver wants to receive. 

Don’t just give something for the sake of giving, without understanding why you’re actually doing it. Put your thoughts and time into it. Listen to what the person across you is saying, then research, and buy it. Or better yet, try to build it with your own hands. You don’t have to rob a bank to buy something meaningful. Let it be a small gift. Small but thoughtful. As a result, you will definitely be different in their eyes. You will be the one who cares.

What are the best gifts you have ever received? And were those things at all?

Gift experiences, not stuff. And remember, it is always better to give than to receive.

We only have what we give.

Isabel Allende

Cheers!

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