The Art of Pressure-Free Gifting

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Have you ever received a gift from someone, and before the torn wrapping paper has even settled to the ground you receive an anxious phone call: “Did you use it yet?” You were probably a little irritated, right? There's nothing worse than being bombarded with calls about a gift you received and haven't had a chance to open or use yet.

Nothing worse, that is, except for being guilty of this gift-giving behavior yourself!

Understandably, you're probably a little antsy after giving a gift. After all, who among us doesn't want the object of our gifty affections to treasure the presents they receive from us, especially if we've put the slightest modicum of thought into it? If it's a movie or book that you purchased because you previously enjoyed it yourself, you may be excited that you can now discuss it with your friend or loved one. Or perhaps you just won't be able to rest until you know that they truly take pleasure in what we've chosen for them.

Gift-giving as a general concept produces anxiety in many of us - especially when presenting gifts to a "significant other". If we are the giver, we frequently agonize at length over questions such as, “What type of gift should I buy for her?” or “What if he doesn't like the present I give him?” We often torture ourselves endlessly because we want the whole process to be perfect from beginning to end.

Likewise, the recipient is under his or her own unique stress: “Should I get her a present as expensive as the one she gave me?” “Do I really have to keep this (insert disappointing/cheesy/impractical gift of your choice here) or can I regift it?” “How should I react if I don't like it?” Constantly badgering a person about the gifts they've received from you causes a new set of headaches, including:

  • Forcing the person to rush and use the gift before they ordinarily would, just to have something to “report” (i.e. get you out of their hair!). Keep in mind that your recipient may have been too busy to watch the movie, read the book, or figure out how their new gadget works. Don't assume they didn't appreciate your gift.
  • Causing the person to dread or resent receiving gifts from you
  • Taking the joy out of receiving gifts, which should be enjoyed at the recipient's leisure, not yours
  • Making you seem pushy and obnoxious

The act of giving a present is to show your regard or affection for someone, whether to commemorate a special occasion or just because. We give greeting cards all the time to express cordiality and goodwill and never think twice about what the recipient does with them afterwards. Why should gifts be any different? The important thing to remember is the sentiment that you conveyed just by the act of giving – that's the only thing that truly matters. So just relax and let yourself enjoy the art of worry-free gifting, and let them enjoy their present, already!

Now, go forth and be gifty!

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