A good gift says a lot about you and the person you give it to. Gift cards are one of the most convenient things in the world. They let you include everyone, and they let the people you care about choose what they want. It’s great. But seeing how gift card purchases have been on the rise for the last ten years, I figured I’d make an argument for gift giving and everything that comes along with it. So let’s talk about what happens when you give a gift, to you and to the people you care about.
Really think about you’re happiest moment when you got a gift. Was it because it was expensive or popular at the time? Or was it because you knew that somebody understood you enough to know exactly what you wanted, or what you needed? Even getting the exact same thing for free for yourself wouldn’t have felt as good. That memory you have of that moment when someone got you something perfect is the secret behind gift giving. It’s a sense of belonging. Sometimes it’s so personal that it changes the way you think about them. It makes you feel welcome and closer to the people who do it really well.
I remember living away from my family for years at a time, and although we never really lost touch, it was nice to come home and give them something that reminded them that I still thought about them. I loved giving gifts they could use all the time so I knew they would think about me, that was my niche. Sometimes there are stresses on the relationship between you and the people you care about, and one of the easiest ways to show you value the people in your life is to give a gift. Now I’m not saying whether this gift should be expensive or absolutely free, but I am saying a real gift will always express more than a gift card.
Some people are so hard to buy for, we all know them. It is so frustrating trying to think of something for them, you spend hours analyzing them, who they are, every hobby they’ve ever had, trying to judge what is important for them, imagining how they will react to different gifts. You spend hours trying to figure out exactly who they are. But really, how often do you do that? As frustrating as it is, it seems important to really think about someone and who they are. There’s also a sense of recognition you get when someone gets you a good gift because you know they spent hours thinking about you, your sense of humor, what you take pride in, or how you like to relax. It creates a bond between the two of you, and strengthens family and friends.
I’m sure we can all remember a time when we rolled our eyes at a family gathering when everyone was exchanging gifts, whether it was over the top, or tedious, or there was something else we could have been doing. But those bonds made with friends, families, and loved ones are important. And sure sometimes you take it for granted, but usually only because it’s been so consistent that you don’t have a chance to miss it. The people around you are absolutely as important as food, water, or shelter, and one of the easiest ways to maintain those relationships is being a part of those special days. Imagine if it were possible to get everyone the perfect gift for all of those occasions, how amazing you would feel.
Have you ever given a new toy or special treats to a pet? Isn’t it amazing making them happy? Even though there’s no way they could ever repay you, it’s still amazing. That’s such an important part of giving too. It seems easy to think that giving gifts is all about what you’re going to get back for it, but when you think about getting gifts for your pets, you realize it really does feel good just to make someone (or something) else happy. It’s fun right? Leaving out any kind of price, stress or time put into getting a gift for someone, when you give it to them, you always get a sense of joy from giving it. Making someone else happy makes you happy, and sometimes you need that.
Every gift you give says something to the person you give it to. Sometimes with gift cards you’re saying, “I didn’t want you to feel left out, and I want you to get what you want”, and that’s okay. But it’s important to remember that you can say more than that too. You can say “I totally get you” or “I still think about you” or “You and I are hilarious” or “I’ll be here forever” or “I can’t wait to see that big stupid grin on your face” or any one of a hundred other things that should be said to everyone, as often as possible.