Making gift-giving enjoyable should be meaningful not only for the receiver but for the giver. Here are five important points to remember as you plan for this season, and it begins and ends with you.
Budget your gift-giving. Although elementary, many don’t plan ahead for this. And, there are those of us who budget for the family, select friends, and work but forget to plan for unexpected situations. Make a preliminary gift list.
Hopefully, you set aside the funds in a separate account for this. If you don’t, check your current resources and act within those parameters so you don’t start the new year with debt.
Focus on the value of the gift. The value is not determined by the amount it cost. Instead, it’s about the value it brings to the recipient. This includes the meaning behind it and making sure you give weight to its longer-term satisfaction rather than just initial enthusiasm.
I will never forget the bronze napkin rings my mother gave me. She knew I placed great value on table settings and loved pretty things. The gift probably didn’t cost a lot, but it meant a great deal to me.
Conversely, I also once received a T-shirt with a joke about Santa. It was fun for a moment, but it wasn’t something I cherished or used, much beyond that day.
It’s not about you – it’s about the receiver. Do your homework to find out what’s meaningful to others before selecting gifts. Listen carefully to what they enjoy. Do they have specific hobbies? Favorite restaurants or food? If they read, do they like hard copies or do they prefer Kindle?
Receiving a gift that you will never use means they don’t know you well enough to be selective. Learn from this and listen well. This includes respecting their wishes.
If someone insists they aren’t comfortable exchanging gifts, be attentive to that. Show your appreciation in other ways, such as a handwritten note or card.
Give someone what they have asked for. Have you ever had someone ask you what you want for a gift, then they give you something they like instead? If you are asking family members what they would like, don’t dismiss their answers.
It says, “I was disingenuous about asking what you want; what I want to give you is more important.” When you ask, be sure to let those you’re asking in on your budget parameters. This gives them the freedom to identify things they would like and makes your shopping easy.
Respect someone’s “no gift” policy. Beyond preference, the code of ethics for some professions dictates parameters for gift-giving and receiving.
Therapists, social workers, government officials, and other professions maintain strict outlines. Additionally, the corporate business world has gift policies in place that have similar limits.
For example, a company may have a policy around gift-receiving and contracting.
If the company is in the middle of a bidding process, and it receives a gift from one of the bidders and it then awards the contract to that bidder, it may give the appearance of favoritism. Companies seeking high ethical standards will have policies that avoid this. Be sure to inquire before you gift a company or a professional. This question indicates great respect, and the other party will appreciate you checking on this.
And one last tip: It is important to respect the fact that others may not celebrate the same holidays as you. Take this into account. You will enjoy gift-giving much more this season. You will give it greater meaning by holding a message of respect and care for yourself and those who are blessed by your kindness.
Patti Cotton, MA, MAOD, PCC works with executives, business owners, and their companies, to elevate and support leadership at all levels. Her client roster includes privately-owned businesses and such entities as Bank of America, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Harvard University, Sysco, Edward Jones, Morgan Stanley, Girl Scouts of America, and more. Patti@PattiCotton.com.
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