Give Your Best Gift
● By Kimberly Boney
Better to Give
By Kimberly Bonéy
IMAGINE, FOR A MOMENT, opening a beautifully packaged gift – given to you with a genuine smile and a twinkle in the giver’s eye – to find its contents are something that is perfect for you. What’s in the package doesn’t need to be flashy or expensive. In fact, sometimes, it’s all the more meaningful when it doesn’t come with a high-dollar price tag. The blissful take-away is about far more than what’s in that package. The resounding joy in that moment is the embodiment of the thought, effort and love that went into finding something perfectly suited to you. When our loved ones take the time to find the perfect gift for us, it’s the living proof that we matter.
Some people are just natural born gift-givers. But, more often than not, finding the perfect gift is the result of an investment of time, energy and love. If we are honest, the process can be quite daunting. While you’ll still have to find the buried treasure on your own, here’s a road map to help you find your way to the gift that will make the recipient feel like the most important person in your world.
1. Keep a running list of gift ideas. Notice the things your loved one stops to admire as you are shopping together and things they have specifically mentioned to you, even long ago. Consider the things they’ve made an effort to keep through the years, the moves and the life changes. Those are the things that have left the greatest impression on their heart. And the heart is your starting point in your search to find the perfect gift. Keeping a notepad with gift ideas all year long makes your gift-hunting experience much easier when the time comes.
2. Remember it’s about the recipient and not about you. There is a phrase that is often said of buying a gift: “Give a gift you’d love to receive.” In theory, the rule applies. In practice, however, it’s better to remove yourself from the equation. If you are a maximalist and your friend lives her life with just the basics, giving her something extravagant will suit your tastes more than hers. In this case, it may be better to give her something useful rather than decorative, even if you love bits and baubles.
3. Consider something functional. A gift can be useful and still touch the heart of the recipient in a special way. An artist may treasure nothing more than a fabulous set of paintbrushes that he’s been coveting. A chef may love a kitchen gadget that will make light work of her most tedious tasks. Useful gifts are far past drab. They are a daily reminder that someone loved you enough to know what you needed most.
4. Consider something handmade. Some of the most treasured gifts we have ever received are the handmade ones, lovingly given to us by the littles in our lives. There isn’t one parent who hasn’t held on to a macaroni-encrusted piece of paper with a photo of their child on it for decades upon decades. Gifts made lovingly by the hands of a friend or coworker hold a special place in our hearts, too. A hand-crocheted scarf feels a whole lot like a hug when you need it most. A jar of your friend’s famous marmalade tastes like love in the morning.
5. Experience may be the best gift of all. Your gift doesn’t need to be a physical one. Treating a loved one to a cooking class, a concert, a weekend getaway or the bucket-list-worthy trip of a lifetime is a gift that will make a home in their soul forever. If you want to give them something that they can keep as a physical memento, package the experience in something that they can bring along with them on the adventure. Find a t-shirt emblazoned with your loved one’s favorite band on the front and let them know they should wear it when you attend the concert together. Have your loved one hop a flight in style with a classy passport holder or a timeless set of luggage. The best part of the gift, however, is the time you spend together.
6. Personalize it. If your loved one is deeply connected to a phrase or photo, consider using it to create the ideal gift. A coffee lover would smile each morning at the sight of a mug featuring their favorite mantra. A canvas wrapped photo of your bestie’s proudest moment or a family photo you have always admired will let them know you value what they hold dear.
7. Sometimes it’s not the destination – it’s the journey, itself. Make the pursuit as much fun as the gift. Set up a fun-filled scavenger hunt to deliver the perfect gift, leaving little clues along the way. For added fun, include smaller gifts at each clue, leading up to the grand finale. And keep in mind, a “good for one (fill in the blank with your loved one’s favorite act of service)” coupon may be more meaningful than any tangible item they could receive.
8. Packaging counts. It doesn’t have to look like it’s been expertly swaddled by someone at the gift-wrapping counter of a fancy department store, but a little bit of thought and effort goes a long way. Remove any pricing that may appear on the gift (obviously), find a fitting box or gift bag, or consider a more unique package that coordinates with what is inside. If you found your Mom a stellar pair of earrings, a lovely jewelry box might be the perfect vehicle in which to deliver them. Include little local touches, like a sprig of fresh rosemary, lavender or pine to add an additional layer of love.
9. Don’t forget the note. The message behind the gift is what the recipient will carry in their heart for a lifetime. A tiny card or a handwritten note is a detail that is not to be forgotten. Chances are it’ll be kept in a photo album or drawer for many years to come – often long after the life of the gift itself. •