The Five W’s of Gift-Giving

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Besides giving to your spouse, significant others, or family members, buying gifts for others over the holidays may produce a sense of dread in your brain’s already overloaded Random Access Memory. You’re already overwhelmed with open houses and parties, making travel arrangements, and planning meals which must be restricted to gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, carb-free and, thus, taste-free ingredients.

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But holidays are supposed to be filled with happy experiences and memories. So take a deep breath, and remind yourself that your “presence” is oftentimes better than your “presents.” But if you are filled with the spirit of giving, sometimes just making a list and checking it twice is one way to keep your sanity.

In the journalism world, the Five Ws are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering. So ask yourself these questions, and it might help you formulate a clearer answer to, “How am I going to do all that?”

WHO
First ask yourself, “Who is around me, puts up with me or is involved in my life all year long?” Some of these are folks you might already pay throughout the year. Some of them might pay it forward to you, so they may be worth remembering.

Neighbor. They get your mail and save your packages in their garage, including that untrained puppy you’re buying Junior for Christmas. #justsayno

School Bus Driver. They arrive at that frozen yellow ice box called a bus at obscene hours of the morning just so your princess will be warm. #firstworldproblems

Nanny. She may not be Mary Poppins, but she’s in charge of your precious cargo. #payload

Cleaning Lady. Nobody gets closer to your business. #toiletbowls

Hairdresser. Nobody gets closer to your business. #yourlifesinthetoilet

Girl’s Night Out Friends. GNO gals are your confidants and let-off-steam go-tos. #designateddrivers

Boss. Love’em or leave’em, but always show them appreciation for lessons learned. #dontburnbridges

New Romance. This is a sticky wicket. Google, “What would Ann Landers do?” #NOTcash

Co-workers…except the one who leaves food in the office refrigerator on a weekly basis. #penicillin

Nursing Home/Caregivers. This one may be considered a ‘bribe.’ That’s okay. Be especially nice to them. #diapers

Babysitters. They’re just a phone call away when you’ve spent the day in meltdown mode and want to get out with The Mister…or just take a shower. #manicmom

Child’s Teachers. Consider them in the same category as your babysitter. #yesyourkiddiddothat

You can customize this list, of course, to include those in your particular Circle of Trust. You may want to include your clergy (for your random acts of sin), your shrink (for your random acts of violence) or even the kid behind the window at McDonalds (for your random acts of kindness).

WHAT
Stockpile. You are running hither and thon all year round. Specify a place in your house – a cupboard, drawer or closet – and purchase little items from the drug store (just say no to pharmaceuticals), grocery store or gift store during your next errand. They don’t have to be suited to anyone in particular but just something from your heart – a nice candle, a charming ornament, a frame, etc., that can be wrapped at a moment’s notice to have on hand for that special friend or hostess. If it’s ‘just right’ for them – a pretty oil & vinegar cruet for someone who cooks, a set of paintbrushes for that artistic friend, or a box of picture hanging accessories for someone who has just moved into a new place – all the better.

WHEN
Don’t procrastinate. The closer it is to the holiday, the more overwhelmed you’ll be. And if you start early, you’ll be less tempted to spend over your budget. Stress can cause you to grab whatever you can find at the last minute while a little voice in your head mumbles, “Price be damned.”

WHERE
Save your gas. Avoid holiday, road-rage shopping traffic at all costs! Use your creativity and head to the closest drug store, salon or grocery store – all of which are in any local corner strip mall. Better yet, order online. Graze the many online sites that offer free shipping during the holidays. For a few bucks a year, you can join a program like Amazon Prime, which delivers overnight AND offers free shipping AND gift wrapping. Create a folder in your inbox to keep all emails with invoices, receipts, return policies, etc.

WHY
Understand your reasons. Is the gift giving more about you (“See how awesome I am?”) than them? Are you expecting a gift in return? Although giving to others reinforces our feelings for them and makes us feel effective and caring, giving should not be about reciprocity.

On the flip side, there are those who – because of the over-commercialism of the holidays – have opted out of gift giving altogether and think the holidays are too materialistic. But people who refuse to accept or exchange gifts can sometimes be missing out on some important connections. And by having strict, inflexible attitudes about the process, they may actually do a disservice by not giving you the gift of giving.

The best gift you can give another person is one from the heart. And the best way you can accept a gift from another is to simply say “Thank you.”

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