It’s The Thought That Counts
Most of us have probably been there; We opened up a gift to find something that wasn’t to our tastes. We’ll try to convince ourselves that it’s the thought that counts and either put on a happy face or go through the apprehension of asking for a receipt. I’m not sure how much thought is put into some gifts however. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or anything, but I reckon that if you know a person well you have a pretty good chance of getting something they like. It might not be that thing you’ve been dropping hints on all year, but it still says ‘you.’ For example, I’ve received a few presents that look as if they’ve come from a ‘gifts for her’ range, most of which is stereotypical and pink. It’s the kind of stuff that I’m not a fan of and something that my close family and friends are aware of. Although it’s cool with things like Bubble Bath, because I don’t treat myself to that stuff anyway and Christmas is my stock-up time. I’ve also received the odd gift that feels more like a hint that they think you need to change your life in some way, which doesn’t always go down so well depending on the implication. Another problem that I have is that I’m running low on space and I don’t want to have to add things that I’m not keen on, but at the same time I feel too guilty to get rid of stuff that people have bought for me. I’ve hung onto small things given to me years ago because I know somebody went through the hassle of getting it for me.
One way to ensure everybody gets what they want is to swap Christmas lists, but it just becomes an exchange of similar value goods while also taking away the joy of surprise. As children it makes more sense to ask for what you want because you can’t otherwise afford to get it, but as adults we can either buy what we want more easily or we’re struggling for cash and keeping the money would actually be preferable. We’ve previously bought games for each other on our Steam wishlists, but because you can check the prices so easily you just end up sending something equivalent in return. Maybe it’s me missing the point with this, but we could have just bought what we wanted for ourselves instead. The other issue is that not everybody can afford to spend the same amount on presents, but if you have that one person that goes overboard everybody else is left feeling awkward if they can’t match it. Although really, some of us enjoy giving more than receiving and don’t expect as much in return. I like to think that the people who are worth knowing would be understanding if you couldn’t get them much.
As a kid I looked forward to getting presents and I won’t deny it’s a nice surprise, but what I love about it is more to do with how it brings us all together. We take a while, opening our presents up one at a time, and this gives us an opportunity to catch up. I particularly look forward to playing games together such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Articulate – my family is pretty big on holding quizzes. We don’t keep up with it the rest of the year because we’re all so busy and in a rush all the time. As a kid you don’t always appreciate these moments when compared to the idea of getting new toys to play with, but as you get older you start to realize how important it is.
I can’t afford to get people much, but I like to create my own Christmas cards and art for people. It might not seem as exciting as a new toy, but putting the time and effort into it is my way of showing I care. I’d rather only do this for the people I am closest to so that I can focus on getting them great gifts, as opposed to buying things that people don’t really want or need out of obligation. All throughout the year I take mental notes of what I notice about people, so then I know what to get them when the time comes. I think it’s a struggle for many of us to listen and to be there for each other in our busy lives, so for me it only has to be a small token, but a great gift is the one that shows they really were paying attention and care about who I am. For example, I once received a copy of the book Little Miss Stubborn, which brought a smile to my face. The emotional value of a gift can outweigh its monetary value.
It seems odd, but all of this awkwardness in giving gifts can give me slight apprehension. Even with everything I’ve just written I’m not too fussy. It’d be unfair to expect others to be able to find something that suits our tastes and needs perfectly. A gift is a treat that we otherwise wouldn’t have had, and so it’s good to be grateful all the same.
- Manners Mentor – The 5 Manners Of Opening Christmas Gifts And The #1 Don’t
- Spark People – Gift-Giving: Is It Really The Thought That Counts?