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The Art of Gifting: Finding the 'Perfect' Gift for every Occasion

As the holiday season brings festive cheer and excitement – for some the pressure of gifting can be crippling: how can we make sure that our friends, colleagues, and family like the gifts we give them? Does the perfect gift exist? And if so, how do we find it? Gift-giving is a love-language, and one that we can all learn to speak. It just takes a little time and thoughtfulness to develop your fluency. 

The winter holiday season has an established practice of gift-giving that can feel rote, expensive, wasteful, and unnecessary. It is important to remember why we give: to convey affection. There’s something so …warming, about being told, “I’m thinking about you”. That’s what gifts do. That being said, if you don’t read any more of this guide, just remember: the perfect gift doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The perfect gift also does not need to be a material object. 

The Perfect Gift Doesn’t Exist… Does it?

The perfect gift is not one-size-fits-all. Think about the gifts you’ve received. Is there one that stands out? For me, I think about my college graduation. I had mentioned to my mum that I had wanted to wear a saree. On the day of, she gave me a gift-wrapped parcel. She had designed a saree for me, with my favourite colour palette, using the lotus motif (my name means lotus bud). The ‘Sarojini’ saree is the first saree she designed – you can shop it here. It’s my favourite gift, and I would actually call it a perfect gift because – 1. My mum listened to what I wanted, 2. She kept it personal. 

three images stitched together. On the left, a girl wearing a green saree with pink lotuses stands between two female friends in graduation robes. In the centre a long shot of a girl in the same saree standing on a fire-escape of a red brick building. And on the right a girl in the same saree holding a diploma, standing next to a boy in an aqua shirt and tie.
Sarojini at her college graduation, 2017

The first tip to being a great gift-giver: listening – finding something they will love – even if they don’t know it yet. The best gifts are surprising in a good way. You don’t want to give something that leaves your recipient wondering why you gifted them what you did.

Before you buy, consider the following tips: 

  • Think about what they might need: Did they just move, book a vacation, implement a lifestyle change? Gifting  can be an opportunity to riff on the ways they’ve already spent their own money. 

  • When someone says they want something, listen: there’s nothing quite like getting the thing you’ve been hinting at for months. And there’s also something very special about feeling heard.

  • What would you want? Has the person ever complimented your taste? It’s possible something on your own wish list, or something that you appreciate would make a great I-didn’t-know-I-needed-this gift/ 

  • Consider the non-gift gift: some people don’t want anything. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want anything. They just don’t want stuff. Experiences and time spent together can be just as, if not more, gratifying than a thing you have to keep forever. 

  • Write a note: sometimes when you buy something off the internet, or something spontaneously, this is not always possible. But when you can, you should. It can be as short as a sentence, or as long as a letter. But a note adds thoughtfulness, and that little something extra your thoughtful gesture, to really make someone feel special.

And when giving a gift – don’t forget to think about yourself.The best gifts, end up sharing a little bit of you with the person you’re gifting to. Are you an avid reader? A fashion inspiration? Super into origami? Something thoughtful that makes you think of the other person, would always be appreciated. Remembering that gifting is an act of kindness, care, and love can alleviate the pressure associated with the ‘perfect’ gift.

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