So I’ve been emailing back and forth with an amazing reader here, and it reminded me just how terrible I am at giving gifts and how I want to be better :)
She includes a few good ideas here that I can start working in, but if anyone else would like to chime in and share their tips I’m all ears!!!
And I should clarify – I’m good at *physically* giving the gifts, just not so much coming up with the super thoughtful “I can’t believe you did this – how did you know this is my dream thing I’ve always wanted all my life??” type of gifts ;) Though admittedly I also never really try too hard either, haha.. Problem #1!
Here’s the note that got me going, in response to our post Monday on spending money to improve your quality of life:
For me, it’s not so much things I buy (I’m not good at judging if something I buy will genuinely improve my life), but instead it’s usually trips I go on that change my life.
Beyond that, I’d say it’s gifts I buy for others. It’s funny; for some reason it bothers me when I hear of others giving people really expensive gifts – it seems irresponsible somehow – but it’s my giving Love Language, so I of all people should understand the compulsion. There’s nothing I love more than to find out what someone really wants and to make it happen for them. Particularly if it’s something they would never be able to afford on their own or would feel right about spending that kind of money on themselves.
I never go into debt for gifts, but as long as I have the money, I have no problem putting down a few hundred dollars on just one gift for someone if I know it’s something they truly want (and will appreciate it). If someone isn’t grateful or simply just doesn’t care about gifts, I won’t waste my money. But for a giver, it’s the best thing ever to find people who love getting gifts, because then we are both happy!
I keep a running list on my phone, so if someone makes an off-hand comment about something they would like to have ‘someday’, I try to make a note of it to get for them later if they don’t get it for themselves. My current gift in the works is a sky-diving experience for my dad. :) – Leah
“There’s nothing I love more than to find out what someone really wants and to make it happen for them.” – so powerful!! And exactly the type of person I want to become!! Already started a page in my notes app to start tracking these overheard things, but I think it’ll take more than that for me to really get good at this…
“If someone isn’t grateful or simply just doesn’t care about gifts, I won’t waste my money.” – I think that’s problem #2 for me :) Not that I’m not grateful or appreciate any gifts I receive – it really is a kind gesture! – but it’s just that I don’t *enjoy* getting the gifts and then most times having to feign excitement, typically at Xmas or birthdays :(
It also doesn’t jive too well with the minimalist side of things, and I never want people to feel like they *have to* give gifts just out of tradition either. I’d much rather just spend *time* with you, especially if you don’t even have the means to exchange gifts, or worse – are in debt! (Oooooh maybe that’s a great gift idea for people?? Sending in debt payments on their behalf?! ;))
Although I will say, gifts that come *out of the blue* I do tend to enjoy as they’re usually things people overhear just like Leah was saying which is always magical to receive. Like books or music, or even a framed $10 bill when your blog hits its 10 year Blogaversary!!!
(How thoughtful was that?? Thanks again Thrivent!)
Here’s a follow up message Leah sent after I expressed just how much I admired her and wished I could be at least 1/10th as good, haha…
Just so you know, I’m not always coming up with lavish gifts for people… It really just depends on the person. I’m giving a retired teacher friend of mine some old-time radio shows that we’d talked briefly about and are in the public domain. That costs me nothing.
One day when my mom had a rough day at work I made her a ‘card’ (just a single sheet of paper, really), and bought four little gift cards to go with it.
But yeah, gift-giving is in my blood; it’s who I am. And as a result, I’ve even extended this same ‘match-making’ between gift and giftee to strangers! I did a gift exchange through the mail once for Nanowrimo, and since I had the real name of my exchange partner, it wasn’t at all difficult to find her social media profiles and see what she liked. Then I went to Amazon and customized her gift package to represent who she was.
I know that level of detail may seem a bit stalkerish, but it’s just my attempt to let no gift go to waste. I think no one should ever have to say about a gift, ‘Well, it’s the thought that counts.’ That’s just sad. A gift is special; sacred, almost. A chance to show how much you really know about that person; to represent the true level of a relationship in your life. It doesn’t have to be expensive at all – it can be free, or even an experience or some of your time or a favorite food – but it should be (I feel, anyway) personalized to that person.
In fact, I feel so strongly about the importance of giving, and knowing that people don’t always have the time to put into planning these things, I had considered making it a Fivver gig once. You know, pay $5 and some information about your person and the budget you have to spend, and I will send you some suggestions? That sort of thing. I don’t think I did it right though; either that or I had no takers. :P But it would have be fun. :)
Good luck on your next gift giving experience! Hopefully you can start to enjoy it a little more seeing it through their eyes.
“I know that level of detail may seem a bit stalkerish,” haha… the one time where it’s totally appropriate ;) And admirable!
So yeah – how do you go about being more like Leah here, or is it one of those things where it’s *in your blood and who you are* or not?! I have to think it’s a habit just like anything else and simply requires some good ol’ fashion practicing, but curious to hear what you all do to be better at this and/or even appreciating the *receiving* end of giving too.
For extra credit – how do you cope with sending thank you notes as well??? Haha… Now those I REALLY hate doing! Again not because I’m not thankful at all, but it always just feels forced like you HAVE to do it simply out of etiquette. Instead I’ve been calling and texting my friends thanks and trying to be more genuine about it, but the wife still gives me side eye around it and considers it half-assing ;) Just like when I give people cash but who hates getting that??!
So please – help me reform and pass along all your amazing tips so we can make this world a better place! And if you hate/suck at gift giving too, share that as well so I know I’m not alone ;)
I literally have to pick up two birthday gifts this week for people, so I can start implementing your tricks here right away, haha… Or everyone’s getting cash!!