I think it’s fair to say that almost everyone loves to receive a gift, be it a special occasion or just random. Gifts can take all forms, but most of the time they will be a physical object, almost always something new. Some people love shopping and giving, some people hate it.
The most curious question though, is even if you hate shopping to give, why do you still do it?
Around Christmas time last year, I remember a day when I was in Wal-Mart shopping for some basic goods but not for gifts. I overheard a lady nearby who sounded really frustrated. She was debating with her kids what she should buy for several of their family members, and listed off all the ones that were already “covered”.
I glanced at her cart and saw that it was filled with numerous inexpensive gifts- like smart phone or iPod skin cases, and DVDs from the $5 bin. She went on to worry over the rest of the people she “had” to shop for, and how she didn’t know what to get for them.
Then she moved on and I finished my own shopping. I felt sorry for this poor woman, and the hundreds of people in the store that were doing the exact same thing. She felt she had to buy something for all of those people, otherwise they would….
GIFTS vs EXPERIENCES
Well, what would they say with no gift? That’s the main question here. You can buy gifts for people, but it is not love.
Try to think right now of a physical gift that someone gave you. For any reason, or birthday, anything. I’ll bet that you don’t remember the gift, but you do remember the experience you had with that person that day.
So instead of buying an item for someone, why not consider giving them a positive experience, or something consumable like a meal? You’ll not only feel better about the gift you’ve given, you will have a memory that is worth far more than a coffee maker, or gift basket.
Some gift ideas:
- Mow someone’s lawn for them
- Take them to a museum, play or opera
- Go to somewhere free (like the beach)
- Have a picnic
- Cook them a nice dinner, or dinner for a whole week
- Teach them something you know (like guitar) if they want to learn
- Offer to help them declutter their garage or storage
- Put money on their account at a coffee shop or internet cafe
- Go with them somewhere and volunteer together
- Spend hours chatting with them on Facebook (no, I’m kidding)
It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of gift giving. You feel obligated to match or top everything that everyone gives to you. But when you follow that cycle, nothing meaningful ever truly comes out of it. You give, they give, repeat, repeat, repeat.
In the end you’ll probably be left with a lot of things you don’t want, or have formed emotional attachments to and have a hard time getting rid of them because you can’t let go.
So think about what truly giving is. It’s not a object. Your time is the most precious gift you can give someone. And when you give them that time from the heart that is a memory you’ll keep for a long time.