The season of giving

The season of giving

The holiday season is upon us, and here at Hartford Manor that means Mrs. Hartford cooking up some of the most delicious, diet-stomping sweets this side of the Mississippi. It also means shopping for Xmas gifts for family and friends.

We can all relate to receiving gifts that upon opening scream “re-gift”. Things that we either don’t want, already own, or are simply devoid of any personal value whatsoever. Now, what are the odds that you’ve never done that to someone else? If you follow these simple guidelines for gift giving, the odds will be low.

Generic wicker-gift-baskets-filled-with-strange-cheese-salami-and-random-utensils, beware. You’re being replaced.

Rule #1: Give something that the recipient would like to receive.

If you don’t know what the recipient would like, then you really shouldn’t be buying them anything. Seriously. Just send a greeting card with a nice note. If you do know them, think about what they like – what are their interests? Hockey? Cooking? Gaming? Fishing? Guitar? Keep in mind that the probably already have a bunch of stuff unless it’s a brand-new interest, so ask their spouse or snoop around in an inconspicuous manner next time you’re visiting.

Rule #2: Give something that YOU would like to receive.

Yes, you read that correctly. There’s nothing worse experientially than giving someone something they like, but you think is the dumbest Justin Bieber t-shirt ever to be created in the known universe. If you give something that you wouldn’t mind receiving yourself, you feel good about the gift, and that comes through to the recipient. In giving a gift, you want to re-affirm your relationship with that person. In essence, you’re saying, “I know you, and I know you’d like this. I value your opinions about this, because I’d like to receive this as well”.

Naturally, there’s some things you wouldn’t literally want to receive. If you give your niece a nice pink dress and you’re her uncle, for instance,  you most likely wouldn’t like one yourself. In these cases, you need to map the gift into something you would like to receive – maybe you would like to receive a cool new pair of jeans. So you can value giving your niece the pink dress, because you’d like to receive clothes you like as well.

That’s it. If you follow the above two rules, both you and your family and friends will get much more out of gift giving rituals. Remember, it’s the degree to which you follow the two above rules, not the monetary value of the gift, that matters most. Even baking someone’s favorite cookies can be what puts the biggest smile on their face.

While many people these days are skipping gift giving except for the kids, it can be a wonderful personal gesture to those you care about. At the very least, send these people a greeting card. A real card, printed on paper and sent through the United States Post Office. E-cards are better than nothing, but the little extra effort of shopping for a real card appropriate for them, writing it and mailing it is always appreciated. Always nice to get personal greetings in the mail, instead of the usual marketing spam and bills.

Happy holidays!

Image courtesy Hades2k.