Sunday, 22 December 2013

Getting Creative with Gift Ideas

Gift giving is great fun, tho can also cause grief.

There are so many reasons to give someone a gift ...... and then there's no reason at all.

The definition of gift is simple - a thing given willingly without payment

A gift doens't have to come from a shop, or be wrapped in a pretty box, or be a particular size, or cost a certain amount of money. A gift can be given with nothing in return. (Except at kids birthday parties when some of the take home party bags contain 'gifts' which I don't get)

A gift is simply given willingly.

So if it's that simple, why do we ALL spend time angsting over the perfect gift? Why does it have to be perfect? Why can't it just be thoughtful? Why do we, either consciously or subconsciously judge the quality of the relationship to the gift? (When G gave me the most beautiful ring for my 50th 'someone' said to me 'about time he spoilt you' - how rude was that!? And I remember the embarrassment when an ex-boyfriend gave me a bag of pot-purri for a birthday LOL)

I got to thinking a few weeks ago about gift giving and got so caught up in the 'right gift' and 'how many gifts' that I found myself being an UNwilling gift giver, and at Christmas that sux. I'm not sure I angst over gifts at birthdays as much as at Christmas. WHY????????????

Maybe because on a birthday one gift is enough LOL. Just because the 3 Wise Men turned up with a gift each, doesn't mean we have to give multiple gifts (or is that just us?)

We're taught from a young age to graciously accept a gift; to buy a gift with the person in mind, that it doesn't matter how big or small, it's the thought that counts. MissM received the same book from two different people in Sydney and without missing a beat, she shrugged her shoulders and said (to me) that's OK, i might loose one in a move.

I've mentioned recently the amount of online chatter about Christmas anxiety levels, the sea change in the air in terms of the hijacking of this time of year by retailers and how most of us are drowning in gift-giving-guilt, or food-overload.

Due to the ever increasing and ridiculously expensive international postage, most of our gifts (given or receive) come in the form of light, flat items or are purchased online with delivery (and wrapping gets done at the other end by a gift-helper) while the card it posted and then the two are married prior to the gift-helper giving it to the recipient.

While gift vouchers have never been a favourite of mine, they scream lack of thought or consideration to me for some reason, they have started to appear as regular gifts -  but not boring shopping vouchers, but rather an open voucher for the recipient to choose a live theatre performance, or a dining voucher to a favorite restaurant, or an experience they wouldn't necessarily do, or a donation to a charity that links in with their interests.

Seems I'm not alone in this kind of thinking. Organizational and lifestyle guru, Peter Walsh posted this quick video to his FB page. Last time i looked, he had 63 comments and 479 'likes' + however many hits on youtube.

Like most of you, these past few weeks have been spent trawling the shops and online for the 'perfect gift' I thought back to what sort of gifts we've given over the years and realized that the sea change of gift giving has already started at house. Maybe that's why I get so pissed off when it comes to buying things that go into boxes under a tree.

Donate to a Charitable Cause that is of personal interest to the recipient.

  • A group of us pooled our money for a friends 40th a few years ago and bought 40 kids in South Africa (where she was born) inoculations (she's a nurse).
  • BF's 50th, made a donation to the Centennial Park Labyrinth in her name because the Park is very important to both of us, we've shared her kids birthday parties there, it's where we have our big get togethers when we're in Sydney, we've picnic'd there for YEARS. The Labryinth will be there for generations and she's into the sort of thing. I can see her grandkids, who aren't even being contemplated at this point in time, running around the area knowing that 'Great Aunty S bought this for nana/grandma' and that warms my heart. So while it seems an odd gift, it really isn't. 
  • MissM asked for, and received money from several family members and close friends to build a well in Cambodia a few Christmas' ago. We chose HOPE INTERNATIONAL as this was the charity YIS (her school in Yokohama supported)
  • The Sydney Opera House is selling it's 'tiles' as a means of raising much needed funds for restoration and renovation work. You can name your tile, and post a photograph on a virtual sail - which we did for the in-laws and one for mum for Christmas. They all enjoy seeing performances there, and my FIL has a thing for crossing the harbour by ferry and admiring the Opera House, so it made emotional sense to do this. Thanks to MrsA for sharing this amazing idea with me. If you know the same people as me, and are thinking of doing this, please check with me first as I have earmarked a few LOL.
  • If a friend volunteers or works for a charity donate to it. My grandmother spent many years at a nursing home in Sydney and each birthday and Mothers Day we would make a donation in her name.
  • The obvious one - health issues, medical research touch all of us and a donation in the recipients name is always thoughtful.
Give an Experience (so happy to hear one of my mentors, Peter Walsh saying the same thing)
  • In Australia, Red Balloon is the go-to online company for this; and we've used Virgin Experiences when we were in the UK. Obviously there are more online sites who do this now. 
  • While not to show off, we've given things like a private surf lesson to our nephew; one day tuition at Australian Dance Company to our budding prima-ballerina-in-training niece; much needed BBQ lesson to FIL to name a few.
  • A cooking class to share with a friend on her birthday; theater tickets; art gallery or museum annual membership are other ideas to ponder.
Make something
  • MissM's given several pieces of her pottery and artwork made at school to friends.
  • Over the years, I've made tapestries, or a decoupage piece, or a mosaic, or photo album to friends 
  • We made a video for a BF's 50th, just the 3 of us chatting and walking around our home in Winchester. It took ages to make, and so many retakes cos of poor lighting, or bad sound (and me being extra critical of how we looked, or sounded)
  • My godkids gave me a tiny weeny jar when I went overseas the first time. They each blew a kiss into it before putting on the lid. I still have it, and the kisses are still inside.
Even the simple thought of posting a card to someone on moving into their new home, or on a birthday means the world to people these days as we tend to do all this sort of thing via social media these days. 

I think at the end of the day the AHA Moment for me when it comes to gift giving is not how much we spend, but rather on the link between the gift and the recipient. 

Afterall, Mum was right, it's the thought that counts. Which is probably why gift giving for me, for the people I love, is always going to be stressful.

Love to hear your creative gift ideas,

With friendship

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