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Field Notes. Entry 106. The Art of Good Gift-Giving.

By Kylie Carrell

I have always loved to give gifts. I find so much joy in gifting, and my love language is most definitely giving. I believe giving is a universal and God-given desire enjoyed by humans. This desire directly mirrors the loving and generous characteristics of God. He truly is the ultimate gift giver and gave us the most precious gift we could ever ask for, His Son.

I grew up in a family that used gift-giving as one of the main ways of showing affection. My parents thoughtfully and lovingly modeled this growing up. Sometimes it was a small, considerate gift after a bad day or a larger statement of love after a long business trip away, but the gesture was always thoughtful and had so much love behind it. It wasn’t the item itself that was the pinnacle, but the expression that “you matter, are seen and loved.” I believe the thought or idea behind the gift is just as important as the gift itself. The thoughtful process of giving pushes you to think beyond yourself and to thoughtfully consider the receiver. It also reveals to the receiver that you care about them and that they are significant and special to you.

I’m not claiming to be the perfect gift giver, but here are some practical tips that I’ve learned over the years:

1. Plan ahead! Waiting until the last minute leaves you doomed to make a split decision or left stranded, forced to buy something random because the perfect gift couldn’t be obtained in time. I have definitely experienced this first-hand, and procrastinating on a gift has left me frustrated and disappointed. I now begin brainstorming gift ideas at least a month in advance of the event/date. For Christmas, I aim to start my list early in November. Planning ahead will give you plenty of time to decide on the gift and obtain it in time for the event.

2. Keep a list of running “gift ideas.” I like to keep this list in the note app on my phone where I record any ideas, thoughts or subtle hints I’ve received for people in my life throughout the year. This provides plenty of gift ideas to start with when preparing for a birthday, Christmas or other approaching date/event. It is so easy to forget ideas or hints you’ve been given, so recording it digitally or manually ensures that you won’t forget and that you’ll have ideas.

3. Think of each specific person. When planning out my gifts I like to focus on their personality, their likes/dislikes, hobbies, stage of life, etc. This helps to put yourself in their shoes and truly consider what they would appreciate. It can be tempting to get them something that you personally would like to receive, but avoiding this and making the gifts as personal and considerate as possible will result in a much better gift. I get so much joy out of “the hunt” for the perfect gift.

4. My last pro tip: put some effort into the presentation. Even the wrapping of a gift can add to its meaning. The gift wrapping is “sealing the deal,” in my opinion, it’s ”icing on the cake.” A hand-wrapped gift instantly reveals the love and care behind it. I keep a stock of pretty ribbon I’ve bought or saved from past gifts I’ve received, wrapping paper and boxes on hand for gift wrapping. A price-conscious tip is to buy a giant roll of brown kraft paper to use for wrapping paper. Kraft paper is a neutral and you can easily add any color of ribbon or even yarn to it. I like to layer ribbons in different textures and add a piece of greenery or bauble of some kind. To finish the wrapping, I love including a pretty tag attached to the top.

Gifts don’t need to be extravagant or expensive to be special and thoughtful to that person. But remember, the receiver will feel appreciated and loved by a well thought out gift.

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