Give Better Gifts. Here’s How…

Why am I writing about the art of gift giving when broken ribbons and smashed wrapping paper may still be strewn about your family room? And mounds of gifts may still be haphazardly stacked in three piles:

  1. to be put away
  2. to be given away
  3. or to be surreptitiously re-gifted

I’m writing about gift giving simply because gift giving is truly an art. Selecting a gift for someone that will resonate deeply and touch them profoundly  requires effort, time and forethought. And even four days after Christmas is not too early to start.

Darin and Gopal – who used to live across the street from my husband and me – sent us a holiday present. As soon as the package landed on my front stoop, the artistic label brought a warm glow:

The label is original and colorful. Inspirational messages are tucked into three of the boxes – reflective of their personal values:

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

“The most powerful force in the world that can change the life of millions of people is COMPASSION.”

“UBUNTU – (n.) the belief that we are defined by our compassion and kindness toward others.”

Upon opening the box, we were further enthralled:

Twelve handpicked jams and jellies from around the country rested inside the corrugated box. Each jar was stamped with a different month of the year and each jar had been personally selected by Darin and Gopal. An accompanying letter explained their cross country journey to search out their ultimate jam and jelly selections, accompanied by a recipe for each month’s choice.

I was awestruck by their creativity, so grateful for their deep and abiding friendship and humbled by their endless well of generosity and thoughtfulness.
Think about the gifts you received

Did any wholeheartedly inspire you?

Did any impress you with the amount of contemplation behind the gift itself? Did any move you to elevate your own gift giving expertise?
Tips for better gift giving

Give presents that reflect who the recipient truly is, not who you want them to be. Example: giving a gym membership to a family member who you’ve been nagging all year to “lose the gut” may not be interpreted in a positive way.

Be practical. Blogger Mandy Stadtmiller gave her husband deluxe Bose noise-canceling headphones because they live in a small apartment.

Be introspective and sleuth a little. Blogger Laura SunEagle suggests making a list of your giftee’s characteristics, favorite things, and inside jokes that you share. Consider things like:

Does this person enjoy experiences more than things?
Do they only like practical things?
Or are they only interested in items with decorative function (photos, paintings, sports memorabilia, etc.)? Her sister, for example, doesn’t care about anything unless she can drink coffee out of it.

SunEagle also advises searching on Etsy or Pinterest. “If your giftee uses Pinterest, buy stuff that they have pinned. This is the best life hack that you will ever receive,” she notes.

Mastering the art of gift giving involves observation. Listen and pay attention – people often comment on their likes, dislikes and interests. Utilize this information to lead you in buying a gift that will be both valued and appreciated.

Be strategic. I hate shopping, so I do double-duty. While waiting for two gift cookie platters to be assembled recently, I looked around at the store’s gift inventory and found this.

Be positive: I often give items depicting a lady bug, whose spirit is associated with good luck and new happiness.
And I give hamsas –  in all shapes and sizes – which is a Middle Eastern amulet associated with protection against evil and a harbinger of happiness, luck and health.
Avoid the obvious: My dearly departed cousin, (who just happened to adore the color purple, which I DON”T) gave me every imaginable item that sported a picture of an Iris on every gift giving occasion – from guest towels and napkins to a toilet bowl brush, stamped with an “Iris.” Seriously?

What present this holiday season did you receive that struck you with its originality, resourcefulness and bigheartedness?

What’s the most meaningful gift you ever received?

And really, really, really, what’s the worst gift you’ve ever received?

Let me know. Happy New Year.

May you be blessed in 2018 with good health, good times and good fortune. And, of course, lots of meaningful gifts!


P.S. Adventurous in the kitchen? Here’s Gopal and Darin’s January selection:

The Biscuit
Buttermilk biscuit
El Trigal raw milk Manchego (very popular Spanish cheese)
Sausage (Veg option: garden veggie patty)
Raspberry mango passion fruit jam

Warm biscuit in oven while cooking either sausage or patty. Cut a generous slice of room temperature Manchego and place it over the sausage or patty just as it finishes cooking in order to melt it. Place on inside of biscuit top half. 

Slather a healthy slice of jam on the bottom half of the biscuit and top with the melted top half. DEVOUR.

I’m saving this meal for the last Sunday in January. 

Happy Feasting 

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