Your Gift is Speaking … What is It Saying?

Posted by on April 29, 2012

Whether you know it or not, the gift you give says a lot about you, how you view your relationship with the recipient and how you feel about the recipient.

Gifts are an essential aspect of social interaction; they help to create, maintain and grow relationships of all kinds. Today holiday gift giving is a $624 billion industry (not including anniversaries and birthdays), but the history of exchanging gifts is more than a little murky.

In traditional societies, exchanging gifts was the method of providing for the material needs of others as people redistributed resources in well-defined relationships. Gifts also created the obligation to reciprocate, thus creating complex social organizations.

As civilization evolved, material needs were met through impersonal means, such as market exchange, i.e. going to the store to buy milk instead of trading your wheat for your neighbor’s milk. Social structures evolved into formal arrangements such as schools, corporations and associations, and social integration was no longer a function of gift giving.

Yet, despite the original purposes of gift giving being met in other ways, gift giving remains an important part of society. Its purpose has evolved to be a form of communication from one person to another. A gift can communicate identity, values, emotions and meaning.

What does the gift you give to your spouse, your friend, your boss, or your parent say about you, him or her, and your relationship? Does it say, “I listen to your needs” or “I remember” or “you’re important to me”? Or does it say, “I have no clue what you enjoy” or “I forgot it was your birthday until I was driving over to the party”?

The next time you’re in a gift-giving situation, take a moment to ask yourself, what message is this gift sending? Does this gift reflect how I feel about this person? If not, is there something you could add to it to make it a more personal and genuine expression of your caring? Even a handwritten note to the recipient can add a whole new dimension to what your gift says to your recipient … and about you!