…thoughts on giving and receiving gifts
I am almost certain there is not a single soul on earth who does not like receiving gifts. Whether it is a birthday or anniversary present, or a random “just because” gift, the thought always counts.
There is just something welcoming about receiving gifts. It shows that someone has thought about you well enough to consider giving you something. It could also show that you are appreciated, maybe even loved.
On the flip side, it could show that someone wants to get something from you. In anticipation of that, the person decides to give you a gift first to “wet” the ground.
When it comes to giving and receiving gifts, the motive is always important though not many people consider this at first. I often wonder about this when someone gifts me something or when I want to give a gift. Is this a plain old gift or a Trojan horse? Does he/ she expect to receive something in return? Is this gift really out of the goodness of their heart?
I watched a viral video recently where a public figure was gifted a luxury car for his 50th birthday by his mentees. I wondered at the gift. It most certainly must have cost them a fortune. I could not help but do some quick mental maths to determine the value of the car. Immediately, I made assumptions about the givers and the receiver. I made assumptions regarding their relationship, their perception of each other, and the intention behind the gift. I also wondered, not that it was any business of mine of course, if this was the best gift for him at this time. I discussed this with my good friend Mash. I sought his opinion regarding the considerations people make in giving gifts. He shared three things with me (the fourth is mine). According to Mash, people give us:
- What we crave: secretly or overtly
Being gifted what you crave is the easiest. This is because you are either announcing it or saying/ doing things that show that you crave this item or experience. For example, if you keep talking about how you would love to get yourself a pair of sneakers, it becomes an obvious gift. If you spend a lot of time browsing online for sneakers, it is also an indication of what you would love.
- What they think we need: We all, consciously and unconsciously, make assumptions about other people. In this case, these assumptions are linked to what we believe are essential needs. For example, there is an assumption that every young, upwardly mobile person who lives in a major Nigerian city such as Lagos needs a car. The transportation system is difficult to deal with, so it is easier to navigate the city if you own a car. If someone was to buy such a person a gift, they might think a car is the best gift for this reason. However, the person might not need a car because he/ she works from home and doesn’t go out as much. Their workplace could also be close enough to home, so they don’t spend much time commuting.
- What they think is befitting of our status and theirs: This is also solely based on assumption, however, in this case, it is not linked to necessity. A person makes an assumption based on their perception of your station in life. The picture they have created of you then influences the kind of gift they give. Ultimately, this also reflects on their self-perception as they also subconsciously expect you to perceive them in a certain way. For example, if you live in Banana Island, I could assume you are a Lagos Big Girl. I would probably get you a luxury item as a gift. You would probably also make assumptions about my social status because I got you a luxury good.
- What they can afford: I might know what you crave, what you need, or what befits my perception of your status, but if I am limited by funds or time, I can only give you what I can afford. Think of it as a widow’s mite. For example, I might want to buy you a car, but I can only afford a bicycle.
Understanding these gifting motivations can help us better determine the motives behind the gifts we receive (or give). It also helps us become more intentional with the gifts that we give.
One cannot talk about giving gifts without considering regifting. You receive a gift from someone, and then you turn around and gift it to someone else. We all have different perspectives about this. Some people do not think it is a big deal: once you receive a gift, you can do whatever you wish with it. Some others do not believe in regifting. They consider it akin to giving away an item presented with a lot of thought and love.
I am of the second school of thought. I cherish most of the gifts I have received. I will, however, admit that I have regifted some items I was not particularly excited to receive. It might seem like an ungrateful act, but in my opinion, such items should become useful for other people.
Which brings me to another thought: what happens if I do not like the gift I receive? I remember one time during my undergrad days in uni. A small group I belonged to bought me some presents for my send-forth: a set of tumbler glasses, a belt, and perfume. I did not like the perfume. The scent was so overpowering that I could not use it. I cannot confess what I ended up using the perfume for. I do not want the people who gave me the gifts (if they still remember) to get upset with me, lol.
I remember being visibly upset at the choice of gifts. I may have asked why they got me those gifts. I wished they had put a lot more thought into gifting me things I would have better appreciated but thinking about it now, there was no indication that they didn’t. I remember thanking them for the gift, but now I realise that my displeasure overshadowed my gratitude. When I remember this incident, I can only think about how ungrateful I was at the time.
The most important thing with giving gifts is to identify what the person would most likely appreciate. Sometimes they may not even know what they want, but if we take time to understand or research them well enough, we could solve that problem.
In the same vein, the most important thing with receiving gifts is to express genuine gratitude to the giver. Giving is sacrificial, and one must show appreciation when people go out of their way. The thought always counts, and this is the way I see things today.