The Art of Giving Gifts

Is Giving Gifts to others a big headache to you? Are you clueless about what to give during occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, special days and holidays like Valentines’ Day and Christmas? It has been something that I have been facing all these years. Many times, I would either end up doing last-minute shopping (resulting in impractical or less-than-desirable or perfect gifts) or not giving gifts at all to a friend or family member.


Gift giving may seem like a simple affair, but actually, it’s pretty complicated. A number of psychological factors can interfere with finding a perfect gift. Here are three common issues:

  1. Our motivation, whether conscious or unconscious, for buying a gift may interfere in the gift buying process. For example, we may buy gifts to communicate love or concern about someone else, or we can use gifts as a chip to be loved or admired in return. Or we may hold on to unforgiveness and bitterness, and so find it hard to buy the person a good gift.
  2. It’s hard to figure out what they really want or would like. Even the most empathetical and attuned person does not always have the ability to know what another person wants.
  3. We bring to the gift search our preferences, experiences and customs, which are frequently not like those of our intended recipient. No one truly wants unnecessary gifts cluttering up the house.

Understanding these dynamics does not mean giving up on the search for a great gift; but it does mean accepting the possibility that there is no such thing as a perfect one!

I have decided that it is time to do something about it and to make more effort to research more about the Art of Giving Gifts. Here are some tips which I have learnt and I hope it would be helpful to those who are facing similar woes as me. Apply them and hope you can experience the true joy of giving!  As the saying goes, You’re far happier giving than getting”.


Tip 1:  Give with the receiver in mind

In short, be thoughtful. Can you think of a gift that you personally liked when you received it? Why do you like them? The gifts that I personally liked when I received them are those that tell me that the giver has put effort to think of me when he or she was preparing the gift.

It could be something that I have said that I like, or something that I needed at that point in time, or something that I would likely use, or something that I would appreciate based on my personality, or something that could add-value to my life or something that represented a memory between the giver and myself etc.

Typically, we’ll think about what people need or something we know they’ll love, but not buy for themselves. For people who has probably everything they want, or someone you want to give something special to, then you need to think out of the box.

A question I ask when trying to buy a gift is whether I am buying just to cross a name off a list, or whether this is genuinely what I want to get for the person. Using this rule of thumb has led me to buy some nice gifts.

Note that the gift might not necessarily be a physical object (especially for those who already have loads of stuff at home). A great gift could be an act of service, spending quality time, even a free course, excursion or dinner/spa treat etc.

Simple gifts can be transformed into something special with customised wraps, handmade cards, unique add-ons and ribbons that would usually melt the heart of the receiver. You can’t go wrong with a heartfelt letter, written by hand. :P

It is important to try to think of the receiver carefully when choosing the right gift. You may not always get it right but if you do it with your heart, I am sure the person who receives it would be able to sense your sincerity and heart of love.


Tip 2:  Use gifts to communicate

As said earlier, the problem is that we think about giving gifts as the exchange of physical objects. Many of us may focus first on the gift as an object, and then check what message it conveys.

A useful alternative to this is to think of a gift as communication. Give something that speaks to them or express what you feel towards them. Thinking this way will help you to come up with slightly off beat yet meaningful gifts.

Ask yourself “What do I want to say to this person?” and then “What can I give them that will communicate this?” (As opposed to “What can I buy them?” and then “What will they think of it?”)

While the best part of gift hunting for some is finding the perfect gift, but sometimes we get so caught up in what we are giving that we lose sight of why we give.

Tip 3: Pick Something Useful and Memorable

The next step towards picking the perfect gift is to think about the recipients’ interests, hobbies and needs. You don’t want to give them something that they will store in the attic for the rest of their lives.

Ask yourself questions like: What are they interested in? What have they be hinting at? What is something they should try, but have not been given the impetus to do so? Write the answers to these questions on a piece of paper and strike down the options that don’t fit well. If you don’t have those answers, pay careful attention to what they say, their belongings and the things they do.

Do start early, even if it’s far from the specific date. If you stumble across something you know the person will like, write down the idea until the gift-giving occasion arrives.

I learned that some memorable gifts can’t be bought. Sometimes, no gift or monetary items are more meaningful than having our friends and families together. I learned that sometimes the best gift can be as simple as getting her favourite chips, making personalised cards, and appreciating each other’s presence. For example, you can prepare a special, surprise dinner with all of his or her favourite dishes and gather the people he or she cares about to the meal.


Tip 4: Give without expecting anything in return

This tip is important as sometimes the joy of giving is taken away when we are full of expectation of receiving a gift-in-return from those we have given a gift to. Sometimes, the person might just take the gift and not even give you a word of thanks! It doesn’t matter.

Give without expecting ANYTHING (even a smile) in return. Give because you truly want to give. Remind yourself not to expect anything in return. For further reading on “How to give gifts unconditionally”, read this.


Tip 5:  Ask the Recipients

Yes, this might spoil some surprises or seem unromantic, but asking someone for a list of wanted items or a preferred type of gift is better than them getting something they do not love and use.


Tip 6:  Get Gift Ideas

Good gifts do not need to be expensive all the time, they just need to be thoughtful, special and personal.

One of the objectives of our website is to provide gift ideas to you. This is a website started by my husband and I to source for gifts ideas from all over the world (online and offline) so that you can hunt simply for the best gift for your loved ones for all occasions!

You can also give us your feedback and your ideas for great gifts you have chanced upon so that we can include them in our website for the benefit of all.


Tip 7:  Narrow it down

Choose 3-6 gifts that you think would be perfect for your loved one. Based on your budget, their favourite colour and other preferences, narrow down your choices. After you have narrowed down the options, pick the best one.

Stay away from gifts you like – unless you have the exact same preference or taste as the recipient. This goes back to an earlier point: try to find out the recipients’ preferences, experiences and religion, habits and customs. Verify if any in the list of possible gifts may be offensive, or unsuitable to the values or culture of the person.

Have a budget but be flexible. Sometimes price doesn’t matter if you find the perfect gift that will rock this person’s world. What gifts communicate is not always attached to their price tag. Some of the gifts that I have appreciated the most have been practically free, but the thoughts and efforts to prepare it have said so much more than their costs.

Lastly, here is a good book on the secret to giving the perfect gifts!

Fabulous Gifts

Get it at Amazon.

If you still haven’t made your mind on what you’re going to gift your loved one, then just drop us a message. There is a special thrill and satisfaction in gift-giving, the expectation of surprising someone and making the person happy.

Contact HS.