Guest Post: Rohan Unwraps the Custom of Gifting

Please welcome my guest blogger, Rohan Healy!!  You might know him from his blog, Rohan7Things, or his music, or his books! He is a truly versatile, awe-inspiring blogger and if you don’t already know him, you should definitely pop on over and say hi.  Heck, even if you do know him, you should pop over and say hey.  Send a little rawr love his way!

http://rohan7things.wordpress.com/

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bad-gift I had my 6th birthday in Amsterdam.

We had a low key party with a few gifts from my folks and a visit from a friend; I think his name was Jasper. For my birthday he kindly gave me a Lego set with all the pieces required to build a truck plus instructions on exactly how to do so. Jasper then spent the rest of the day constructing the truck and I wondered who the gift was really for…

I had my 9th birthday in Dublin.

This time my older cousin was visiting from Australia. For my birthday he kindly gifted me a cap gun with a few rolls of caps. He “helped” me open the packaging and proceeded to “help” fire off every single cap as well. I wondered who the gift was really for…

bad-gift (1)People give the gift that they, themselves, would like to receive. Not the gift that the other person would love.

As an adult I’ve noticed this phenomenon as well, I’ve even done it myself!

A couple of years back I exchanged gifts with a friend whose birthday was very close to mine. I handed him a solid 1oz Austrian Philharmonic silver bullion coin and he handed me a biography of a football player. Now I love football, big Liverpool fan, and yes I have an interest in the history and what not, but when it comes to reading; biographies are low on my list, and football biographies even lower. But it’s the thought that counts right? And I know how crappy that sounds, but I have to be honest here!

And who wouldn’t get super excited about a silver coin?! Probably most people, however I would have loved to have gotten a silver coin for my birthday!

I’ve never been big on birthdays or gift giving in general, I used to try to get through my birthdays in school without anyone finding out, most of the time I was successful, sometimes not so much. The idea of the surprise party terrifies me, and that disingenuous moment when you have to smile and say a big thanks for an item you didn’t want or already have, is just so awkward.

99th-Birthday-funny-GiftDon’t get me wrong, I’m no ingrate. I appreciate the thought, and the effort, and the cost. And I’m not stingy either, nor am I a scrooge! I used to love getting my little brother gifts when he was younger. It was easy then, kids are into a few things and you just know they are going to love it when you tell them to close their eyes and slide a brand new ninja turtle across the floor to them!

But dangit, isn’t life tough enough without the pressures of gifting and the obligations of gift receiving?

And what’s wrong with cash? Money as a gift is awesome! You can use it to get whatever you like. Of course cash as a gift is highly controversial; it is seen as a cop out, a lack of effort. But I for one am all for it!

If it were up to me gifts should work like this, either:

A) You tell the person what you want them to get you.

Or

B) You just get yourself a gift on your special day, and let them get themselves a gift when it’s their special day.
Think about it. I would have loved to get a silver coin and he would have loved to get a brand new biography to read! We could have simply bough ourselves the gifts, credited it to each other and everyone’s happy! Right?…

But what about when someone says “Oh you don’t have to get me anything,” or “Please don’t get me anything expensive or go out of your way!” What the hell do you do then?! I can’t be the only one who gets all mixed up with the convoluted social expectations when it comes to gift giving and receiving.

really-bad-gift

My partner and I keep things very simple.  When there’s a birthday, anniversary, Christmas or other such occasion coming up we just talk about what we want to do or what we want to get and then we see if we can manage it.

No surprises, no wondering what the perfect gift would be, no long discussions with friends on sending the “right” message and no freaking out over whether they will like it or not.

People tend to give the gift they’d love to get, this I’ve noticed. But what’s the answer? Does anyone else feel this awkward around giving and receiving gifts? What do you do to make things easier?

Thanks for reading! All the best
Rohan.

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Rohan’s authenticity always wins me me over, and so now that I know you’re swooning, too– head off and visit his blog!  I’d start here:

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How do you deal with gifting?  What’s the best gift you ever gave or were gifted? What’s the worst gift you ever gave or were gifted? Would you rather get the coin or the biography?

48 thoughts on “Guest Post: Rohan Unwraps the Custom of Gifting

  1. We actually do get gifts for ourselves, though we go shopping together. It’s fun and finally, we each get what we want. I sneak in a couple of extras here and there for fun and surprise, but a lot of couple I know who’ve been together a long time go shopping together and thus each gets what he or she really wants. It works out very well and it’s fun shopping together!

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    1. Yeah, I agree, that’s the best way! And for sure, those little random surprises that you know they will like are always nice, but for the big occasions I think it’s best to do it together and have some fun with it rather than stressing 🙂

      Rohan.

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  2. Blah… for the most part I’ve told my friends that they shouldn’t get me gifts anymore and I won’t be getting them anything anymore either – we are all at the age where we go out and get what we need and want as the need or want surfaces, so that doesn’t leave anything for those “special” days. So, hooray, no more gifts!
    I’d rather have gotten the biography, as long as it wasn’t about a Liverpool player (*ahem* Glory, Glroy Man United *ahem*) in which case I’d rather have gotten the coin. 😉

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    1. Yeah agreed! Makes us sound like party poopers to some but boy does it make things easier. Ha! Well I’m pretty sure you would have rather gotten the coin as it was a Ronnie Whelan biog 😉 Legend!

      Rohan.

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  3. Yes I agree, gift giving is a mine field. I recently had to get a birthday gift for my girlfriend and it was her first birthday since we’d been together. I was terrified. I literally lost sleep over it. The pressure was intense. I did really well in the end but not without a fair amount of angst. It would be so much easier if we did just say what we wanted, but doesn’t that take the romance out of it?

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    1. Yeah, I mean the reward for giving or receiving the perfect gift is pretty big! It can earn you some serious kudos lol, and be pretty special 🙂 Still, it’s the anxiety that gets to me; the build up haha! I’m a total coward when it comes to gift giving and recieving!

      Rohan.

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  4. Unless I’m extemely close to the person and know precisely what they do and do not like, what they have, what they don’t, what they love the most, I hate picking out gifts. Which means I give my adult son cash because he’s picky, hard to buy for and he’d rather have the cash anyway 😉 I wish I could give everyone it’s hard to pick gifts for cash. It would make everything better all around but alas, the idea of that apparently offends them and makes them think I don’t care. Ironically I’d rather do it that way because I do care.

    As to me, it’s a love/hate on the getting. My husband, kids, parents, they could get me gifts all day everyday and every time it would be the coin. Other people, anxiety attack, they tend to go with the football bio 😉

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    1. Haha, yeah exactly, my folks, my brothers; they are safe bets when it comes to gifts because they know me so well. I also don’t feel like I have to put on a show, I can be honest with them. But yeah, other people are tough, football bios and lots of awkwardness!

      And why the stigma with cash? I understand it’s seen as an easy way out; a lack of though or consideration, but I think it’s an awesome gift. It’s the gift of choice! Hehe 🙂

      Rohan.

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  5. I would rather give a “just because” item when I see something I think matches a person’s personality or style vs. waiting for an official occasion. The times that has happened with my friends doing the same for me mean more than waiting until my birthday or whatever. Funny cards or just going out and spending time together or how I would rather celebrate those occasions, but I understand not everyone else feeling the same.

    It seems I am exchanging a gift card for a gift card with my family (my spawn being the exception) so why not take off the pressure and just call it even?

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    1. Yeah absolutely, I love buying something I know my partner or brothers would love out of the blue and surprising them randomly. The big occasions have all this expectancy and pressure associated with them, and who need extra anxiety on a day that’s supposed to be fun!

      Yup, call it even and do something easy and fun like spending time together!

      Rohan.

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  6. Timely post as I like to start my Christmas shopping early. I tend to give gifts I would love to get with females and I have a really hard time selecting gifts for males, so I usually let my husband take care of that. We always end up spending a small fortune buying gifts for all of the kids and grandkids. We tell them not to buy us anything because we can buy ourselves what we need. Yet, they always do, and we give one gift to each of the offspring, but end up with a pile of gifts for us, as they each buy for us, and there are more of them to buy for us than there are of us to buy for them. That always makes me feel awkward.

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    1. Haha, it’s funny how something so nice and simple (the idea of giving things and receiving them), can become so stressful and complex.

      Things become very interesting with a large extended family, I wish you luck with it, and I hope you all have a great Christmas once all the shopping is done 🙂

      Rohan.

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  7. Ugh, I’m not a very good gift giver. I never know what to buy. I hate shopping for myself even so that may be the reason why. 🙂 Great article, Rohan!

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    1. Haha, man, if you hate shopping for yourself I guess shopping for others would be a nightmare! The whole gift thing is so ingrained in our culture, but it’s great when you can work out between a few close people that “Let’s not do the whole gift thing, okay?”

      That’s as good as it gets!

      Rohan.

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  8. It is so tough when you get something that is not even close to something you would have wanted. You have to smile. You have to say thank you. You have to seem genuine. I have, many times, had to swallow the words, “do you even know me?” as I’ve opened a colorfully wrapped box and peeked through the tissue paper. And then I kick myself for being ungrateful, smile and carry my new treasure straight to my closet until I can figure out exactly what to do with it. That said, I have to admit, I do LOVE surprises and surprise gifts. I just like them a lot more when they are cool and fit me and are something I’ll truly treasure versus some ceramic bird planter that I’ll never use because A, I have no plants and B, it creeps me out so much I can’t sleep with it while it’s in my home :).

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    1. I know right! You can’t win haha, you feel so crappy when you don’t feel grateful, even though he gift might be totally wrong for you. It’s awesome to get a random surprise from someone who really knows you, it’s just the big events like birthdays, when everyone feels obliged to get something, and you are obliged to like it. Too much pressure all round!

      Rohan.

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  9. I am not embarrassed to say that I have actually purchased dog booties for two of my dogs as Christmas gifts. In my defense, I have never owned a chihuahua or any other foodie dog.

    But my German Shepherd, Goliath, developed skin problems caused by a combo of road salt, sand and his own ear wax. What choice did I have but to buy booties (extra large). My English Springer Spaniel, Cooper, had lovely, silky fur that acted like velcro for snow, which turned to painful ice balls that stuck in his paws. He would lie down and refuse to move; my husband had to carry him home.

    So each got a pair of booties. But did they appreciate my thoughtfulness? No. They ate their booties.

    Some family. Embers just don’t appreciate the trouble we gift buyers go through.

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    1. Haha, those booties were definitely justified, I shall not judge! Sometimes I wish I could get away with eating my unwanted gifts too lol 🙂

      Rohan.

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  10. You may know I’d prefer people just forget my birthday altogether. I don’t like being the star of the show, and birthdays come too close. Here’s an idea: for people’s birthdays, why not give that person’s mother a gift? Sort of like, “I like your kid, thanks for the effort.”

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    1. Haha, that’s a novel idea, it’s the folks that really should be rewarded for the “effort” and for putting up with the person all those years!

      And yeah, I like being the centre of attention if I’m playing music, or doing a talk, but the birthday thing is so arbitrary.

      Rohan.

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  11. Nicely written Rohan. This is one of the reasons we usually make gifts, find vintage gifts and only buy small things new as add-ons (so to speak). Plus we know each other so well and only make x amount of money, that it makes it rather easy, even though the gifts are always well thought out. But, I don’t know, the enthusiasm I feel is such a child-like gleeful rush at having surprise prezzies all wrapped up in shiny papers, that I would miss it horribly if I were to orchestrate my own gifts. No, not for me. 🙂

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    1. Yes! Once you grow up and realise that gifts money is the same as the bills and rent money it’s much easier to just get gifts that are practical, enjoyable and risk free, especially with partners.

      I do like your point about making things. My younger brother always made me birthday gifts and the effort makes it so much more valuable 🙂

      Rohan.

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    1. Yes, gift cards! They are fantastic, that way if you know someone is really into books you can get a book shop gift card etc. I like that a lot, it’s like giving cash but without the stigma 🙂

      Rohan.

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  12. There are people who are so easy to find gifts for and there are those who I can’t for the love of me find the right gift. One of the latter is my hubby. I always feel so inadequate when I plan for his birthday or our anniversary or the Holidays. :-((

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    1. Yeah I know what you mean! It’s hard with partners because you are just “supposed” to know. Sometimes we simply have to ask, or at least get a few hints 😉

      Rohan.

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  13. I’m awesomely a New Fan and will go follow his blog!! I just give Gift Cards to their *FAV* place to get a book, a cup of coffee, or eatery. You can’t go wrong! My Birthday falls on Thanksgiving holiday and it SUCKS…because the Birthday & Cake was an AFTER THOUGHT after everyone had STUFFED their faces with Turkey & Stuffing!….LOL
    *Author, Catherine Lyon* 🙂 🙂

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    1. Yes, I totally forgot to mention gift cards but they really are a great gift idea; it shows you know what the person loves, but allows them to get exactly what they would like; perfect 🙂

      Yeah! I’ve always felt sorry for the people who’s birthday is right around Christmas as well 😦

      Rohan.

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  14. Personally, I love giving gifts. I’ve often been told I’m really good at figuring out just the right thing– probably because I simply pay attention. In the course of ordinary conversation (even in e-mails sometimes), people do mention things, often in passing, and I keep a “gift list” handy, to which I add notes any time I hear anything like, “It would be really fun to have that on DVD”, or “My husband loves dictionaries”, or “I’m redecorating my kitchen all in shades of green”. That sort of thing. I believe the reason my gifts are well-received is not the amount of money spent, but the simple fact that I noticed something the recipient said, or something they’re interested in. Especially these days, with so much competing for our attention, it’s nice just to be noticed.

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    1. Yup, you’ve mastered it, and it makes perfect sense to me with your attention to detail in all things, especially working with fabrics and crafts as you do!

      It’s all about being attentive to people, and perceptive 🙂

      I’ll bet everyone looks forward to unwrapping their gifts from you! 🙂

      Rohan.

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  15. I love gift cards – and am blessed with a husband that gets great gifts…but I think money and gift cards are great. I’d rather have that than a candle…unless I was into candles than, WHOO HOO! So Rohan, you don’t want a historical fiction novel of 11th century England that I love?? 🙂

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    1. Honestly I’d take the 11th century fiction novel over the biography 😉 And yes gift cards are awesome! Silver coins for everyone!!

      Rohan.

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  16. I do think a lot of gift giving involves people assuming that everyone else would like what they like. But some of us like to hunt for what we really feel another person would like. For me it’s a toss-up whether I like it more when someone opens a gift I’ve carefully chosen and is as thrilled by it as I thought they’d be or when I open a gift and know right away someone remembered a little thing I said or knows the heart of me… For those I don’t know as well or find difficult, I’m with some of the above commenters — a gift card from a shop or restaurant I know they like or for movies, etc. Thoughtful post. I’m following now.

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    1. Yes, there’s is definitely satisfaction in giving/receiving the perfect gift, and keeping your ears and eyes open for the little signs is what it takes to get what they want, rather than what we think they should want!

      And for all else there is the wonderful gift card haha 🙂

      Rohan.

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  17. With local friends I prefer going out for lunch, dinner, coffee, something to spend a couple of hours enjoying time with them to gifts. With my husband, we usually discuss it, pick up whatever wanted item we have an eye on and come up with something fun to do or a new restaurant we want to try, etc. For family, I prefer they do something nice for someone else, donate to charity, volunteer for a soup kitchen, buy a tree. Something positive on my behalf but they have not risen to the occasion yet, after many years of asking for it and doing similarly for them a few times. I guess they didn’t appreciate it from me enough to return it even when asked.

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    1. Yeah, you can’t go wrong with spending time with someone, especially if they are a good friend or close family member, so cafes, parks and restaurants are always a good idea 🙂

      Doing something positive on another’s behalf is a very interesting idea, really conscientious! Yeah, I guess not everyone is the volunteering type, though planting a tree seems pretty simple lol, and a very cool thing to do 🙂

      Rohan.

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  18. It can be tricky… Just tell people you aren´t there, lol (Birthdays, Christmas, ect). You both could go on a Holiday over an agreed period of time – that would be a one gift you all would enjoy together and you save money as well 😉

    So, and to do everyones justice – pick one day where really everyone could make it to your party or you to theirs (cooking together is great, never ask them to take stuff with them/ experienced it all 😉 Ever heard of Raclette? It´s a great way to eat healthy food for hours…

    We would also talk about the gifts after I cried over a laptop, hahaha. However, it never worked out as he claimed that my presents wouldn´t have the same value…

    That is terrible…

    I am cured and going away over XMAS 🙂

    P.S: Start buying things early for all occasions (got my stuff back in August). Nothing is worse than running around like a loony with everyone else getting their gifts at the same time…

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    1. The holiday idea is a really good one! And I agree about planning ahead, doing things last minute adds so much to the stress of it all!!

      Rohan.

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  19. I get crazy anxious over gift giving. One year I finally thought I had the perfect formula: chocolate. Who doesn’t love a giant box of chocolate right? Turns out I was doing that thing where people get things they want for themselves :S

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  20. I completely agree, Rohan. The worst is the look on someone’s face when you got them something amazing, but they obviously didn’t/don’t want it. Then you have to go through the whole party with your gift tossed carelessly to the side.
    I say make gifts for others. No one complains about a gift that was custom made for them.
    {{{hugs]}} Kozo

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  21. Hubby & I often don’t even bother exchanging gifts or if we do it’s something little. Last Christmas I bought him a box of his favorite chocolates that he never gets any other time of the year & he bought me a back scratcher (which I love). Just so we have something to open. If we have enough in the coffers we might buy ourselves something we’d like like a new small appliance.
    If I have to buy for someone else, I often prefer gift cards so they can get what they want.

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