I take pleasure in gift-giving. I am sure that I receive greater pleasure than I am able to give. I choose for others the things I like.
“It Is More Blessed to Give Than to Receive"
There is something especially wonderful about the December holiday season. The month has just begun, and already, the air is fresh and crisp. Of course, persons living further north of the equator may describe it as fresh and cold. But whatever the atmosphere, there is something in this holiday month that puts pep in your step and a bounce in your pounce. This truly is the season of giving. And according to the book of Acts, Jesus said, “… it is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Of the dozens of persons on our giving lists, some are more special to us than others, and it is for these persons that we spend most of our time and talent in seeking that special gift.
Gifts for Loved Ones at Christmas and Special Days
Special Gifts for Special Persons
At this time of year (early December), most of us are rushing around trying to find that gift that singularly suits the little ones in our lives—the grown daughter and son, the lover or husband, the mother, sister, father, brother and friend. We want our gift to bring a smile, to stand out from the crowd and to be something that we are truly proud of giving—special gifts for special persons indeed. When that smile happens, one flushes with pleasure.
Last year, I made a cushion and matching stuffed toy for my dear friend Yvonne and I was truly touched when she expresses her pleasure by calling to exclaim “Doreen, you should sell these things you know”.
But how often do our special gifts fail to impress? I’d say more often they should. One Christmas I bought an outstanding stainless steel rope belt for my 24-year old daughter, affordable only because it was a discounted item. I got it from one of my favorite gift shops—an adorable little shop for persons wanting that ‘not so common place’ fashion item. I buy her multiple gifts at Christmas, with one being the primary gift, and this was it.
When she opened it I did not see the look of excitement that I expected. Knowing that these young people of the ‘millennial generation’ are in the habit of re-gifting things that they are not particularly fond of, I asked, and to my surprise she said “possibly”. Of course, I promptly insisted that it be re-gifted to me.
So how do we manage gift shopping in such a way that we enjoy the process and create great gifts at the same time? Since I am always inclined towards strategy and method, here is a five-pronged approach that will, more often than not, bring success—you enjoying the process and the receiver loving the gift.
Strategy 1: Take a Long-Term Approach to Gift Shopping
My Approach to Gift Shopping
I thoroughly enjoy the process of gift selecting, nearly as much as that of gift giving. I often stand in the shop admiring a particle article, smiling at the thought of the reaction that I would like it to create, and of course this always attracts the attendant, particularly in a small shop.
I like small shops and large shops that are so designed to give the feeling of several small shops in a single space. Actually large book shops are usually so designed. I never have the problem that so many people have, of running out of gifts at that special holiday season—Christmas. In fact, I usually have more than enough.
Because I am always browsing through department stores and specialty shops, art and craft fairs, and gift shops, I am able to select and purchase unusual items at great prices. I do this throughout the year (especially when on holidays or travelling overseas), and so it makes it less stressful to buy just the extra special ones at Christmas and other giving seasons. I have a selection of favourite shops and because I allow them my mail contact I always know when they are discounting to restock or to boost sales.
I didn’t always shop like this. Long ago I used to do 50% of my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve! I can vividly recall desperately trying to find gifts for family members one Christmas eve when my daughter was just 2-months old. I wrapped her warmly, snuggled her to breast and went about my Christmas shopping way into the night. I did have her Dad as a co-pilot so it was not too difficult, slow going however because everyone stopped me wanting to see the baby.
Strategy 2: Personalize Your Search
How to Select Those Special gifts
Since these are special gifts for special persons the chances are that we know a great deal about these persons. So before you buy or create the gift, bring your thoughts to reflect on that special person.
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Best Tips for Selecting a Gift
Does he or she have a significant need, or is there a desire for a particular thing? There is an advertisement on television that always stirs my interest. It displays a range of delicious meats and food, packaged for a family of four for four food days (I think), selling at a fraction of the regular list item price. What a wonderful gift this would be for a special family experiencing want at Christmas. (I just saw one of the adverts mentioned from Omaha Steaks, looking delicious. Look for other mail-order foods. This not my strong point.)
I live in a developing country and every Christmas I allow myself the joy of creating food packages for the family of the young man who does part-time cleaning and gardening for the small condominium in which I live. When I am purchasing, I think about the size of the family, Christmas morning breakfast and dinner, snacks for the kids, and a meal for the following day.
Here is something interesting that some may like to do themselves. Some years ago my friend Bernie and her husband decided that rather than purchasing gifts for adult friends they would simply send a card and instead, donate the gift money to their Church’s fund for the poor. Friends like me, were very touched because this almost made us a part of that giving experience.
Strategy 3: Further Ideas on Personalizing
Gifts for Young People
This is probably the easiest set of special persons for whom to acquire gifts. There is so much that they do and want, that your choice is quite extensive. It is important to note however that one could quite easily misjudge because their likes and dislikes will vary with the changing times. However, if this is a consolation, they are quick to re-gift to another who might really cherish that special gift.
Gifts for Kids
My advice to gift-givers is to leave the giving of typical ‘run-of-the-mill’ gifts— clothes, computer devices, some educational toys, etc.—for parents to give. If you are giving toys then look for toys that excite such as robots, science-related instruments, exciting books and audiobooks.
Personal Story: Christmas 2014 I bought some tiny solar-charged robot animals for little kids (4 and 5-year-olds) which I thought would be exciting for them. But one of the mothers told me some days later that the robot grasshopper, which was what her daughter received, scared the little girl so much that she ran away from it screaming, and so it had to be put away. The moral of that story is that kids are different one from another, one size does not fit all.
When my daughter was in preparatory school (about K3-6), I discovered the Shel Silverstein books for kids and I have loved them till now. These are exciting books for kids who love books, words, and crazy ideas—“A Giraffe and a Half”; “Where the Sidewalk Ends”; “A Light In the Attic”—have been some of the titles I have purchased in this series.
Audiobooks are also great for kids, especially if the reader has an active and exciting voice. Since books help you to find a way to get kids to develop language skills and excitement for the world around them, this type of gift to the right child is a ‘no brainer’, as the slang goes.
Gifts for Seniors
Whenever my mother’s birthday comes around (she is 90+ years), and also when Christmas does, I always ask myself – what does she need, or what would excite her, or what would enrich her life. About 4 years ago I made her a special painting for her birthday (I call myself hobby artist. I paint for myself and also for gift giving.) Displayed centrally in her living room, she continues to take pleasure in it. I think the main aim in selecting gifts for older seniors should be bringing joy.
Gifts for Men
This I think is the most difficult category. My girl friend told me today that she had given up on it. View the article in my HubPages publication titled “What Do You Buy for a Man Who Has Everything”. I am sure it will help and I am looking forward to your comments.
Strategy 4: Create DIY Gift Items
Hand-Make Gifts for Friends and Loved Ones
Are the gifts we hand make more exciting to the receiver? Are they more pleasurable to you the giver? I take pleasure in making my gifts but I am so slow at it that mid-way into the process it becomes simply tiresome, but then towards the end when I can almost visualize the final product, the joy returns. It could take me two days to complete a small 8” by 8” painting, and a whole morning to complete a beaded bracelet! That is why it gets so tiresome.
It is heartwarming to receive a gift from a child when you know that child has made the gift especially for you. When she was a little girl I encouraged my daughter to hand make all her gifts. This is something that very many of our children love to do and many parents actively encourage it.
Personal Story: My daughter, Anna, as a child made all her gifts for birthdays, Teachers’ Day, Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, and she took pleasure in doing them. Recall how touched you were when your child brought home from school the first painting he or she had ever done and gave it you!
Her school principal Mrs J. kept an entire shelf of the gifts she received from Anna and proudly displayed them in her office. There was a freak fire at the school one evening and it destroyed parts of her office including the entire section with her gifts. Her greatest loss, she bemoaned, were the gifts from her kids that she so treasured and couldn’t be replaced.
Strategy 5: Search for Unusual Gifts
Discovering Unusual Gift Items
Unlike most people, I do not have the problem of discovering ‘special’ unusual gifts for friends and loved ones. We all have friends who seem to have everything. You still want to give such persons gifts that are out of the ordinary. You are not likely to find such items in a shopping hurry. You will find them if, from time to time, you browse the small shops, the village stores, the antique shelves.
If you are a Flea Market lover, you may see the unusual as you browse the stalls. During the summer I was visiting a friend in Franklin, Tennessee and she took me to a warehouse converted into little gift shops, some selling craft items. My antennae for seeking out unusual gift items were immediately raised and the search was not disappointing.
The only drawback I find to shopping in these foreign nooks is that one has to be conscious of weight when travelling on the airlines. One of the items I purchased was a pair of earring made from natural pine cones about an inch and half in length, thoroughly coated in 14kt gold. Beautiful and unusual.
Doreen Mallett (author) from Jamaica on December 11, 2017:
We all have friends who seem to have everything. We still want to give such friends gifts that excite them and bring pleasure. In this article on gifts for special family and friends I outline my strategy for purchasing the right gift.