Monday, December 2, 2013
We'd been married a few years, long enough for my husband to know that a gift to me, was only as good as the thoughtfulness and effort behind it. Some of his most-treasured gifts cost little (cookbook) and some cost a ton (stage-side seats for Coldplay). Money can't buy thoughtfulness. Discovering that he'd acquired an AmEx card for the VIP access to a concert that notoriously sells out quickly, and knowing it was entirely his idea was the gift to me. It was sensational even before Chris Martin was within arm's reach.
On this particular Christmas, I'd had a baby 3 months prior and 'operation: lose the baby weight' was in full swing. And by full swing I mean: I started replacing a meal here or there with Slim Fast and resumed my regular gym visits. With a new baby, I wasn't getting much sleep and hormones were raging. I hadn't asked for anything, but I anticipated a gift to commemorate our new baby girl, and our 1st Christmas, complete, as a family of 4.
On Christmas morning, I opened exclusively:
exercise DVDs, a new pair of sneakers, South Beach Diet bars, and Slim Fast.
No, really. It's true.
Get this: he was grinning, proudly with every gift I opened. "See, I pay attention to you!" he said. "That's the kind you like."
I always wanted to be Annie Banks.
And no, I'll never forget our 1st Christmas as a family of 4.
My husband genuinely wasn't suggesting anything, he simply noticed what I was all wrapped up in at the time. Where he & Brian McKenzie went wrong was in this oft' overlooked layer of giving: the perception of the recipient. This is why sometimes cost matters and sometimes it doesn't; why re-gifting works sometimes and fails others. It's in the perception. Ah!
If you really want to win at giving, you can't forget to consider how your gift will be perceived.
Does a practical gift make them swoon or does practicality translate as laziness? Does expensive make it valuable or does it make it uncomfortable to accept? Would an experience be more exciting than an item? Does overspending suggest overcompensating or last minute?
Furthermore, sometimes getting what your loved one would be thrilled to receive means spending hard-earned money on something you can't understand, you wouldn't have chosen yourself, and has you shopping where you wouldn't otherwise go. I went into a micro-brewing shop in town and couldn't have felt more out of place if I were in China. The bearded young guy was patient with me, while I wrapped my head around the malt, barley, & hops, oh my!
Resist buying for the thrill of the deal and not the the joy of the person on your list.
Don't underestimate the power of suggestion that can ruin your well-meaning gift.
Unwrapping a Vitamix blender would have me cheering, but not so for Annie Banks. (was that too direct?) Pin It