Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The 4 Best Gifts I've Ever Given

This might be a bit out of the blue, but I love giving presents.

No, seriously, I really, really love it, to an abnormal extent. I'm currently working as an Office Manager, and I'm not kidding when I say my favourite part of the job is without a doubt organising birthday presents for our employees. I'm known among my circle of friends as the absolute Queen of Creative Gifts, and nothing gives me greater delight than working on something in secret for months only to reveal it in a blaze of glitter and surprise. 

So when I saw that IFB - Independent Fashion Bloggers was doing a project to create the best gift guide ever, I was all over that.

Around this time of year, we all start thinking about the great Present Bonanza that is Christmas, and the anxiety that comes with it. We all want to get the people we love something awesome, brilliant, and memorable. That's probably why you're reading this post right now - you're looking for a list somewhere that will be perfect, that will tell you exactly what you need to get, and where from.
This isn't going to be this kind of list. It's not that kind of blog. But while I can't tell you exactly what to get, I would like to share what I've learned about what makes a gift not just good, but memorable, awesome, and spectacular.

While I'm pretty good at writing down words, spoken words have almost always failed me. I get flustered, and awkward, and never seem to be able to get out what I really mean. But a well chosen gift can express how much someone means to me much better than I ever could verbally, and a poorly thought out gift can say just as clearly that I don't give a damn about them. So this is always where I start, when trying to decide on what present to give. What do I want to say to the giftee in question?
Choosing a gift from a list of templates like "Geek chic" or "Bookish Femme" says absolutely nothing about your relationship with this particular person. If you're looking at them, looking at a template that mostly fits, and choosing a gift from the appropriate list, there is every chance everyone else they know will do exactly the same thing, and the poor giftee will end up with fifteen copies of "How To Be A Woman".
Take a little time to think about your relationship with them instead. Don't think about what thing they might want. Think about what's going on with them right now. Or maybe you don't know anything about what's going on with them, and you would like to. Maybe they're having a shitty year. Maybe all their dreams have come true. What does pondering all this make you want to say to them? Once you've worked that out, the present almost always chooses itself.

In consultation with my friends and partner, I have come up with my Greatest Hits of Present Giving, and the thought process behind them. Feel free to steal any of these ideas, or launch off them to your own spectacular heights of gifting fame. Here we go, in no particular order;

Monteverde Invincia Stealth, photo courtesy of Office Supply Geek
 1. My partner is currently trying to finish his first novel. It's an incredibly draining process on the ol' self esteem, and I know that sometimes he struggles to believe he will ever really "make it" as a writer. For his last birthday, after turning this over in my head, I decided what I really wanted to say to him was, "I believe in you."
I did some research and found an incredibly sexy fountain pen (it has a freaking black nib!!) for a relatively reasonable price, and put a note in the box that read, "For the signing of contracts, autographs, and other important documents. From Your Biggest Fan." He loved it, and it said clearly in a way he couldn't brush aside, that I sincerely believe he will need it one day, because one day he will be signing hundreds of autographs at a time. Because he's going to finish his book, and it's going to be awesome.

2.  A good friend had recently finished up her university degree, finished up her Honours, and moved out of home for the first time. Things had changed quite a lot for her over the previous year, and she was dealing with a lot of things she hadn't come up against before - and amazingly well, I might add. certainly a hell of a lot better than I did when I moved out of home! What I wanted to say to her ended up being a little long - I wanted to tell her that I was proud of her for adapting so well to huge changes, but also assure her that being a real grown up wasn't all bills and laundry.
So for her birthday, I put together a Grown Up Kit, complete with Certificate of Adultivity. I found a nice, professional looking (faux) leather bag, and filled it with a nice bottle of wine, a naughty book, a beautiful box of bon bons, a bath bomb from Lush, and a bottle of perfume. These were all things that it was highly unlikely she would buy herself. But to my mind, one of the most awesome things about being a grown up is being able to take a long bath, and stuff your face with chocolates while reading and not giving a damn what anyone thinks because it's YOUR bathroom and you'll do what you want. So I put together a kit to allow her to experience this joy for herself.

 3. Another dear friend got married, what seems like recently, but it was actually years ago now. We've known each other since she was far too young to be hanging out with a bad example like me, and we've had some wild times together. But then she settled down, stopped clubbing, and got married. It took me a long time to really get used to this, since her husband also used to be a worse party animal than I was. It seemed like it couldn't possibly be making her happy - how could it? She'd spent her adolescence on one wild adventure after another, and now she wanted to stay home and have dinner parties? What the hell was with that?
Eventually, I pulled my head out of my arse and realised the change of pace WAS making her happy. A happy, safe, settled life was what she wanted, and she wasn't any less fun because of it. But as I said, I tend to suck with words in person, no matter how long I've known them. Christmas rolled around, and despite being Jewish she gleefully organised a big dinner party for her friends, where I knew she was going to totally overcook and insist we eat until we burst, so I wanted to get a really good Christmas present for her.
I decided what I wanted to say to her was, "I respect your domestic kick, and I know you're still an awesome, bad-ass chick" . I think these cookie cutters say that all pretty succinctly!
(as an added bonus, she also bakes like a demon, and I knew getting her cookie cutters would lead to cookies in my future)

4. Way back in the way back times, when my partner and I were a new couple, his birthday came around for the first time after he had moved to a whole new city to (more or less) be with me. I knew that he was still feeling unsettled here in Sydney, and was self concious about all of his friends really being "my" friends. I decided the thing I wanted to say to him was, "People other than me think you're awesome." Of course, how to say it so he believed it?
Thus began a month long project where I contacted all our friends and all his family, many of whom I hadn't actually met in person yet, and asked them to contribute LOLCat style pictures for a Birthday LOL Book. At his birthday dinner, I proudly pulled out a photo album with all the pictures printed out, and to my delight, he was completely taken by surprise. I've reproduced a selection of the best pictures here;

While not all his family members entirely understood the kind of pictures I was trying to get, nonetheless the sentiment was clear - he was, and is loved by all sorts of people, who happily also have a sense of humour.

So that's my Greatest Hits, as I see them. An interesting point to note is that the most expensive thing in this article was $140, and the cheapest present cost me $6.75 - but when I asked my partner what his favourite present from me ever was, he chose the cheaper one. This is pretty compelling evidence to me that it really is the thought that counts, if you put the right sort of thought into gift giving. The way the economy is everywhere at the moment, I'm sure there are relatively few of us who have money to throw around this Christmas - so this year, try something different and start with the thought, not the gift. I guarantee your loved ones will thank me!

1 comment:

  1. The best gift I ever gave was from this website called www.dogoodbuy.us and all of the products give back. I felt so good about it. I got these great soaps http://www.dogoodbuy.us/products/soap-variety-pack


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