Gift-giving is an art form, as well as a type of social contract. At its core, sharing gifts with others lets them know that we care, that we’ve thought of them in a certain context, and that we’re (literally) invested in their wellbeing and happiness.
Some gifts are ceremonial, such as household items that are often given at wedding ceremonies. Others are highly personal, such as those we buy partners for Valentine’s Day. And, in some cases, gift-giving is even considered a love language.
While there’s also an art to accepting and reciprocating a gift, one of the most challenging parts of the process is actually finding the right item or service to offer someone. Depending on the occasion, there’s a different idea to keep in mind. Let’s take a closer look at the sentiments behind five common occasions that call for gift-giving.
Put away the red hearts and roses. For Valentine’s Day, the key isn’t necessarily romance, but knowing what your partner loves (aside from you, of course). For example, a poker enthusiast might have the basics like a chip set, deck of cards, and hoodie covered — but not much else.
A Valentine’s gift that reflects their interest could be a pair of headphones for when they’re at the table, a coaching lesson from a pro, or even a cheeky pair of rose-colored glasses for a bad beat. Of course, commercially, Valentine’s focuses on romance, but don’t forget to keep the gift based on your partner’s interests.
Most souvenir purchases are personal. We buy them to remind ourselves of a fantastic adventure. Oftentimes, souvenirs help communicate aspects of our journey to a loved one. However, the point of the souvenir is to remind another they were remembered. Many follow the rule that a souvenir should fit in the palm of your hand, which emphasizes quality over quantity here.
Souvenirs should also reflect the destination, as well as the receiver’s interests. For example, a friend that loves stationery would enjoy a calligraphy pen from China. Someone who enjoys politics and history might find a fragment of the Berlin Wall to be endlessly fascinating. The point here? Skip the refrigerator magnets and figurines.
Valentine’s is the perfect time to delve into a partner’s hobbies and interests, while birthdays are the time to create an adventure with those interests in mind. Keeping with the example above, a birthday gift for a poker enthusiast might be hosting a game night with all their friends.
Where expense isn’t a question, this might be a trip to a brick-and-mortar casino. But it could just as well be a thoughtful game night with a James Bond theme, a series of finger foods, and a table big enough to host all your partner’s closest friends.
Though the holiday is often an austere time to reconnect with loved ones, gift-giving in the holiday season can cover a lot of bases. For most parents, Christmas is all about Santa and his sleigh of gifts, but for others, it’s the perfect time to regale loved ones with oddities and unique gifts.
After all, Christmastime emphasizes spending quality time with others — this is the gift at the heart of the holiday. For this reason, what’s actually under the tree is of slightly less importance. Whether gifting llama-shaped planters, NFTs, terrarium candles, mini-refrigerators, or meat delivery subscriptions, there’s likely a bit of extra wiggle room here.
Wedding gifts are often utilitarian — and they should be. Married couples pay exorbitant amounts of money to host their closest friends and families in a single-day event that often costs thousands. The wedding itself is a gift shared with attendees; attendees are expected to be generous with their own giving.
Though many want to add a personal touch to a wedding gift, this is one area where practicality reigns. Couples spend hours compiling registrations with specific reasons and hopes in mind. Get personal (and soppy) with a handwritten card and a few printed photos, but don’t feel weird tacking it onto the blender you’re gifting the newlyweds. Only one will feed them in the coming years.