The Art of Giving: How Gifting is the Language of Love Everyone Understands
I grew up in China during a time when gifting was a very rare, but extremely symbolic gesture of love. It was during the cultural revolution when parents gave their kids candies, sweet treats, and sometimes even a dinner with meat, which was very hard to come by. No matter how hard your condition in life was, when you showed up from a trip to see a long distance relative, you never went empty handed: there was always a fruit basket; a bag of green tea; or even, a live chicken to bring a feast that will brighten up the family for a whole week.
When I moved to the United States, I was naturally took up the habit of Christmas season gifting. With an abundance of things to choose from, it seemed to be a great way to expand my gifting skills.
I quickly learned that every relative expects a gift during the holiday season but for me this was not too difficult since I didn't have many relatives around in the Washington DC area where I moved. And so I thought I'd give gifts to my colleagues but I learned that you don’t mix your personal life with work life: i.e. it is ok to give your colleague a book for cooking; but it is too intimate to give a colleague of opposite sex a perfume. Although this was completely acceptable when I was growing up in China and when China was opening to the world; anything and everything that is from Western Countries were considered “cool and popular” so gifting a perfume was a good gesture, nothing to take offense about!
Over the years I learned that for my sons Alex and Michael, no matter how hard I tried, they would only be interested in the toys I got them for 5 minutes, but it would be the box that those toys came with that they could play with for hours, pushing it around; getting inside of it and trying to move it from within, and so on! But if I failed in getting it right with my boys, I started to learn some great tips about gifting. Almost 30 years later, my gifts are often hotly anticipated by my now teenager kids and their cousins, and many of my friends as I learned a few things about the art of gifting:
1. Everyone loves the gift of great food
Have you ever been disappointed when someone gave you a gift basket of Harry and David? I never have! Who would be mad when they get what would be a perfect sample of gourmet chocolate, specialty salt, decadent popcorns; and juicy pears? And who would ever still be angry with you if you try to make up with a great bottle of Napa Valley red wine? Not one person I could remember! Some of my favorite gifts over the years in addition to David and Harry gift baskets came from Eaterly.com that now has many stores outside of New York City; and Balduccci, a New York city staple that also finds happy shoppers in the DC area.
2. The ladies love what sparkles
You cannot go wrong if you make your bet of the most favored gift for a lady if you just hang out around the jewelry store. It took me a few decades to appreciate the allure of something that shines; but this year, my 16 year old step-daughter Lara was hinting it is time for us to think about a new pair of earrings! Indeed great things come in small sizes when it is about gifting to a girl!
3. For the lady with the great house, something that smells wonderful will do
Before I started a candle business, I would never have understood how easy it was to make someone addicted to what you make: give them pumpkin and vanilla candles and they will always come back! If you question this advice, just stop by a Yankee Candle store or Bath and Body Works in any mall, you will understand exactly what I mean. Scented soaps and anything that smells great and looks pretty will make her happy too!
4. A wonderful bottle of hard to find wine will be a nice ice breaker for a gentleman
Over the years I have met many friends of my friends for the first time at events. We would have come from all parts of the world but it never failed if we started talking about the bottle of wine that was served! Apparently wine, like candles, and food, evoke a strong sense of memory because the nerve ending for smell is directly connected to the nerve ending of memory. When people talk about wine, often times it reminds them of a trip they took and the meals they had! It triggers intense details of what they did, what they saw and how they felt. And it is that ability that connects one to great destinations that make wine such a favorite gift to many!
But in the end, it is not the what, but the how, that makes it so much more than the gift itself when you are giving!
Over the years, I have noticed how my sons prefer the box more than the toys I gave them, I also noticed how my gift of candles to my friends sit next to their beds, giving them a sense of peace and calm, which seem to be so significant. What I enjoyed the most is not even that satisfaction of seeing their faces when they receive the gift, but the search that brought me to think about them, tracing their time with me and bringing us that much closer!
Gifting is a language of love that communicates so much more than meets the eye. And for that reason, this year I decided to launch an Annual Gift Guide from www.yesshemay.com, our website that sell well-designed products by women, for women! It is really hard for me to choose only 8 items, there are so many brands that I personally have enjoyed and know you would too. But it is time to really find that unique item for that special someone in your life.