Think back to the best gift you ever got… Can you even think of one? You probably received many gifts in your lifetime, but so few seem to stand the test of time. Out of that handful, what made them so special? Can you relive them with fondness? Or, sadly, did most of them end up in the good-will bin?
One of the best gifts I ever received was a Christmas present from my sister. It was a 10-week pottery class at the art gallery. It was the best gift ever, because:
· I had always wanted to take pottery,
· I couldn’t afford the class at the time (it was university days),
· It was a gift that kept on giving (for 10 weeks+),
· I had a ton of fun and felt such a sense of accomplishment making functional art, and
· Every time I saw one of my completed pieces I thought of my sister.
Just thinking about it makes me smile; it had all kinds of goodness to it. Do you have a “pottery class” of your own?
I got thinking about this topic because it seems like so often these days, gift giving is done out of obligation, dictated by a number on the calendar and lacking motivation from the heart. With Christmas just behind us and Valentine’s Day around the corner, there is always another gift giving or receiving opportunity.
Since 2016 is my year of Intention (see Blog post) I want to do gifts differently this year. I want every gift I give to have real significance that goes beyond the calendar date obligation. So I got thinking, what makes a great gift? How can I do this better?
Here’s the scoop:
1. It's sincere.
Even if the calendar date is the reason for the gift, the bigger reason should be a true desire to make the other person happy or show your appreciation. If it comes from the heart, you’ve got it in the bag. If you’re not sincere, the rest doesn’t matter. The goal is heart-felt emotion (read: LOVE) through and through – you want to express it and she wants to receive it.
2. It makes her feel special and important.
Bottom line. All the rest add up to this one and it’s a biggy. Everyone wants to feel important and know that they matter. In a world that seems so busy, self-centered and competitive, to be given recognition that you make a difference and are important, means everything. People don’t get this enough (recognition, gratitude, praise, love) so when it happens, most people are blown away. Try it – give someone a (sincere!) compliment and watch how they light up. It’s pure gold.
3. It’s totally personalized.
No, I’m not suggesting you get a t-shirt with the person’s name bedazzled across the front of it. I’m talking about really knowing the person and tuning in to what they like and don’t like. This one takes listening – all year long. You need to put your feelers out and pay attention, make notes, and get something that makes them say, “It’s totally me! Thank you.”
4. It took some thought, time, effort.
Following up from #3, even if it’s personalized and her favorite scent in the world is Georgia Peach, getting a smelly peach air freshener from the car wash, and a gift card on your way home from work, isn’t going to cut it. Again, you need to be listening, and then think it through. Putting some effort shows that she’s important enough to think about well in advance of the obligation date. Most gift days happen yearly so there’s no excuse for not knowing or not having enough time. And yes, the person receiving the gift does this equation unconsciously in their head: More effort = more love. Start thinking months in advance to account for production and shipping times. Nothing worse than a late gift. And the gold star winner on this one is if you made the gift yourself – write some poetry, build a beautiful table, make the perfect dinner.
5. It’s one of a kind.
If you can get a one-of-a-kind gift that’s personalized exactly to her tastes you have hit the jackpot. This takes effort, and essentially means “you’re one-of-a-kind, and so is your gift.” Bespoke (look it up…).
6. It’s beautiful.
I just listened to a TED talk about how we are all genetically wired to want beautiful things. Use this to your advantage. It doesn’t take much to make the packaging unique and gorgeous. Yes, use ribbon. No, don’t just pick up the first wrapping paper you see at the drugstore. This is your chance to personalize it even more. Pick her favorite colour, and again, put some effort, take your time. The packaging should be so great, she’s dying with anticipation of what’s inside (because if the packaging is this pretty, the REAL gift is going to be stellar! – yes, those exact words have gone through my mind). DO NOT disappoint. I have been sadly let down when the packaging was amazeballs, only to find some plastic, generic, dollar-store tchotchke on the inside. Wah, wah.
7. It’s got some value.
I hate to say it, but if it’s something other than a poem, it will be appreciated more if she is pleasantly surprised about the perceived value of the item. Again, this goes back to higher value = higher importance. Yes, you can get her a watch at the dollar store that functions the same as the one at the jewelry store, but you know which one will be better received. It’s not about function – it’s about emotion.
8. Build the anticipation.
Have you ever gone on vacation and the anticipation and expectation of going, was better than the actual trip? That’s the power of anticipation. Keep the gift a surprise but drop little hints or notes about how something amazing is on its way. Let her know how special she is even before the gift arrives. This shows more effort and attention to detail. It’s like she’s received the gift even before she gets it!
9. It creates a sense of nostalgia.
Lastly, you want the gift to resonate so deeply that she thinks fondly of it years later and has something to trigger that memory – not only of the actual gift but of you, the gift giver. It should stir up all kinds of emotions – how special you are for making her feel special, how loved she felt, how much love she feels for you. Her heart will flutter every time she sees it or remembers it. That’s why it’s great to have a physical object that stands the test of time or, if it’s consumable (like a trip or spa day), create some little momento that will instantly bring her back to that time and place, and essentially, you.
Really, the gift you give says more about you than the recipient. A part of yourself and your values are tied up with every one, good or bad. So, the best gift to give, is one of yourself, one that shows your emotion and thoughtfulness and builds connection. I hope these pointers were useful and help your next gifting. If you are still having trouble finding the perfect gift, I have one more suggestion…
I feel honoured that I get to create commissioned paintings that really are the best gift ever. They bring heartfelt emotion and make the recipients feel honoured and special. If you’d like to give the best gift ever, I just made your life easier. Let’s talk.