Have Things Really Changed in Gift Giving?
Looking back into the history of gift giving and comparing it with today’s modern trends, it is apparent that not much has changed in the motivation of giving a present. The change really lies in the way in which we purchase, the way we deliver those presents and the commercialism of the concept.
Our sentiments on the idea of giving a gift have not really changed. We still want to celebrate major events in our lives, and acknowledge friendships and relationships through passing on a gift, whether is if for a special birthday, or a close friend’s achievement, a colleague’s success, a relative’s bereavement. The act itself makes us feel good and gives the receiver a nice warm fuzzy feeling of gratefulness. It defines both who we are and the message we are sending. It’s the thought that counts, is an age-old adage; it is an expression of us.
The Gift Giving Ritual Has Stood the Test of Time – The Way We Carry out That Ritual Has Changed
This applies across all cultures, with gift giving events like, Christmas and New Year, Valentine’s Day, Father’s and Mother’s Days, Spring Day, Women’s Day, Yom Kippur and so on. These all are celebrated over the same time every year. But the marketers of gift giving merchandise in all its shapes and forms have changed things in more ways than one.
First rule of marketing to the consumer: get the timing right and the message spot on. What better way to beef up the coffers, than to extend these traditional gift giving occasions in order to get people buying earlier and earlier and hopefully by default, more and more! Although we are bombarded with a million and one advertising messages, our choices of ideas for those special gift giving occasions have expanded beyond exponentially. So in many ways commercialisation of the act of giving, what to give and when to give, has enabled us to become inspired and creative in our selection of that perfect gift.
Think of the old days when Grandma knitted jerseys for her grandchildren, or when Aunt Matilda used to make homemade preserves, or when you battled with what to give to that special person in your life. Gifting merchandise and ideas were limited and the sending of presents was reliant on an expensive and antiquated postal service. Now we have gazillion ideas for gifting, both in terms of purchasing or making, and the delivery of these. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a homemade gift, after all it is a symbol of great thoughtfulness and personalisation, but what we have today are the masses of ideas to add value to that present at the push of a few search engine buttons.
If we don’t have the inclination to make something, then we can have something made and delivered personally to that person’s door in a couple of days! Imagine what our ancestors would have thought of that concept? Albert’s present to Queen Victoria of a locket with a portrait of himself in it, could be today, just another clever idea of a custom made present of which many others are commissioning on the internet. Sending a hand-painted copy of the selfie you took with your best friend in a locket for her birthday is, today, not out of the question. Anything can be done these days – you just need some imagination, some time to explore the million options available and most importantly an overriding objective of making your gift personal. Because that is what matters. Gifts should symbolise who you are and the relationship to the person you are giving to for that specific occasion.
We Have Changed the Way We Live and the Way We Give
Perhaps the romanticism of those olden day presents is not apparent in today’s modern technological time, but the efficiency in today’s age of giving a present has allowed us to take a different approach. People used to spend a huge amount of time decorating envelopes, painting gift cards, packaging and wrapping presents with homemade ribbons and bows, embroidering labels, and creating works of art like Faberge Eggs.
In the new digital age, our traditional values are changing and the way we communicate is changing. Shopping and payments for those purchases has changed. Think how easy it is today to shop-till-you drop on the internet and simply quote your credit card details to make the payment. You can send cash anywhere, you can buy from foreign shores, you can have something bespoke made in most countries of the world. Now we can send a gift to our loved ones at anytime, anywhere in the world. Perhaps a little difficult with that new Ferrari that my loved one wants for his birthday, but most anything can be shipped off with ease. The choices are endless. The limitation is the amount of money you can spend; (this of course applies sadly to most things in life!) not the idea that you want implemented for that perfect gift.
Exclusivity and Individuality Are Today’s Major Trends in Our Lifestyles
Remember though, that this should not mean to the normal person, expensive or out of budget. Let’s take the mega wealthy and their toys out of this equation, we are talking here of presents that are not going to break your bank account. Those famous gifts of mega diamonds and designer handbags, of trips around the world and famous works of art are not part of this discussion. Start off with thinking about the recipient of your gift and what would make that person feel special or wanted or loved. (Trust me, although they may wish for a Picasso, they are not expecting one from you!) Getting it right and giving something that that person would consider personally exclusive is what counts.
Some Avant-Garde Gift Giving Trends of Today
- Donations to a worthy cause. A charity close to your recipient’s heart such as animal welfare, environmental issues, children’s homes. You can send your friend a membership or a donation on their behalf. Bequeath some of your annual salary to the cause or donate to save one elephant for instance. The lists are endless and your recipient will be grateful as well as the cause.
- Bespoke – again people love personalisation. Have something made for your friend but give it added value, i.e. made by the blind, or made by children.
- New designs. Not much is really new; it is the way that it is made that can be the difference. The internet will give you an array of shop-now purchases from designer handbags, to fancy jewellery, to kitchen gadgets and so on. But try and match the design, or label to the personality of your recipient. How much nicer than sending a Channel handbag to someone, (it will break the bank!) than to have one made by the local craft market that is 100% guaranteed original and personal.
- Take something old and turn it into something new and original. You may be sceptical about this, but how fab would it be to have a shower curtain made for your loved one that is in fact a photograph of your last beach holiday together. Or get someone to paint your best friend the family dog and give it to the children for Christmas, and give the dog a bone biscuit made by the children.
- Turn the gift into an occasion. Throw a dinner party for your best friend who has just completed her advanced flying license and serve in-flight type of food with air hostesses serving up the grub and wine. Original, thoughtful and fun.
Gift giving is connecting with people. It has been the case and will continue to be the case, for as long as we can imagine. It gives us a great sense of satisfaction to find or make or have made, the prefect personalised present. After all, it is always better to give something to someone, than to receive. It will enlighten your wellbeing to be able to say that you gave it a lot of thought creating that unique gift and it was smack bang on trend.