My husband wants to always give gifts that are different from the usual. So he keeps browsing for unusual items. That option too is running out now. Unusual things are coming with a heavy price tag. And in a month we need to attend at least two-three functions. How can all these gifting stay within budget?
I met an elderly couple, who told me years ago that they get invited to minimum 8-10 celebrations a month. So they have a standard gift. They place Rs 51/- in a cover and give it. They are quite well to do couple, but they feel they cannot give more. It is a simple decision, they need not rack their brains for gifts every time they are invited. When I suggested this to my husband, he was offended!
Then gifts also depends on who is celebrating what. If it is a close family member who is getting married, then it calls for an expensive gift. If there is child birth, something in silver is given. If it is a close family friend’s child getting married, then also a good, expensive gift is called for.
If one is invited to some relative’s function, then a reasonable amount has to be spent. There is no point in keeping stock of gift able items. Of course, two decades ago, gifts given were useful items. Only problem was one would receive two to three sets of same items!
I remember receiving three milk cookers, five night lamps, quite a few decorative brass items, and of course sarees. The givers of night lamps must have been very imaginative, or decided to have a smirk at my expense! Most of these items were recycled by my mother. She gave away some of them as gifts herself. Some items were just given away to friends and relatives.
When some families want to show their wealth and status, the do go in for expensive and ostentatious gifts. Especially when the girl’s family want to impress the groom’s people. They will give gifts to all the members of the groom’s family. And it could be expensive.
Then there are some who walk in without gifts. They say they have spent money to reach the venue, and they do not believe in the culture in gifting! Or their presence is gift enough!
Now I see many people who walk in with flower bouquets. One workshop I attended, the facilitator was given a bouquet of orchids. My mouth watered. They looked so beautiful. The facilitator too was extremely happy. She said these flowers would last a week at least and she could arrange them in more than one room.
Some people do not know how to select bouquets. They bring in a big one, it will have cut flowers, a few in numbers. The rest will be the green grass, which cannot be retained. The flowers will wither in a day, and the whole charm is gone. But still, giving a bouquet is better than walking in hands free.
Of course some people do write on the invitation card, no presents please. Actually I feel this is a good practice. We are celebrating some occasion, we want to share the happiness with our family, relatives and friends. Let them come and share our happiness, eat and leave. They can return the favor next time. It is so much simpler. I vote for this.
Actually a gift symbolizes the thought the person has given to selecting it. If it is different, the receiver will appreciate it a lot. The giver need not have gone to the trouble of selecting it. But since he/she has, the gift becomes priceless. And that is why unusual or handmade gifts have more intrinsic value.
There are some who do not know how to give or receive. Those who do not know how to give, will always say they do not believe in this culture. Or will give something and will talk non stop about it. How much time it took to shop for it, what ideas were discarded before choosing it, and will keep asking the receiver if the gift is good. They need reassurance about their selection. The more profuse the receiver’s compliments, the more satisfied the giver will be.
Then there are those who do not know how to receive. They will frown upon being given a gift. Or will be disappointed with the article and show it openly. Some even suggest they should have been asked to select it themselves! How does it become a gift?
I remember a relative who commented she already had tea cup sets, and I needn’t have given her one more set. How was I to know she had these sets? It was never on display. She could have graciously accepted it and quietly passed it on. Instead she made me feel horrible, and to date I haven’t given her any gift! Sometimes gifts do get duplicated. Even then you should be gracious enough to accept with a smile.
When it comes to family members, now we ask the particular person what he/she would want. The budget is declared and the person then decides what can be purchased. With children, we take them on shopping trip, tell them the budget and let them choose. Each person has his/her own choice, likes and dislikes. So it is better when they get to choose. At least they will use it. We also give gift vouchers, from well know stores. This way too they can choose what they want.
When someone goes abroad, then the gift has to be something useful, small and preferably ethnic. This way they can display it and get appreciation. Earlier items in sandalwood used to be given, now that is not allowed.
If you have a creative bent of mind, you can make your own gift. You can stitch, sew, paint, emboss, make jewelry, or anything you feel will the accepted. Then you need not go browsing for gifts. But the receiver should know how to appreciate hand made stuff. They have more value than store bought ones.
There are so many varieties available in the market today. In any budget. It is mind boggling when you enter a gift store. And the cards that go with them are also available in abundant variety. If you like to browse, you have to just enter a gifts shop. You can spend hours there.
A compliment too can be a gift. A smile when you are feeling blue, a hug when you are down, an encouraging pat, will raise spirits. And these can be more valued than any tangible items. Life itself is a gift. One to be treasured, spent in ways that fulfills you and benefits others. This will be a true gift to your Maker.