Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gift Giving Practices

Simplify your gift giving this year with a few easy suggestions. Giving and receiving gifts create tensions and awkward moments. Know that gifts often have some attachment to them. Learn to navigate the contours of gifts skillfully. Learn how to give and receive graciously.

Talk before Giving

A. Clarify. Be bold in the conversations because the clarity can avoid uncomfortable situations and will help communicate expectations. (Too often Christmas has too many disappointed hopes.) Discuss with your family of origin which ways you will celebrate the holidays. Eliminate surprises by simply clarifying the ways they want to approach gift-giving, especially with the adults relatives, in-laws, parents, and adult children

B. Determine if your presence during a visit and perhaps a food item is enough of a gift. For most people, YOU are enough. Enjoy the people you are with and let them enjoy you.

C. Perhaps sending a greeting card is enough of a gift. Clarify if that is so.

D. If you discuss gift-giving and decide not to do it, relax. If someone then goes out and gets a gift after you have discussed behaviors, accept it gratefully and realize you do not have to feel guilty.

E. Discuss price range. Ask what others want. Pray for them beforehand and see if some gift idea emerges in your prayer.

F. Know that it is quite O.K. to not give gifts. It is liberating just to come together without the need for gift exchange. Gift-giving can be expensive and stress inducing. Lower the stress.

G. Help the other person by being very specific about what you want to receive. Be as concrete as you can.


If you receive a gift…

A. Know that the other person is giving something about themselves. Cherish that aspect of the giver.

B. Ask the person if you are to open the gift in the present moment. Smile. The person is giving part of themselves away to you and they want you to accept a special part of them, even if you do not understand that special part. The other person wants instance acceptance.

C. Love the person who is doing the giving. They are loving you through their gift.

D. If a gift is unusual, ask the person to clarify what the gift represents to them so you may honor it all the more. Allow the person to share his or her process of dreaming up this gift for you. The person might clarify something you do not quite comprehend.

E. It might take a little while for you to decide if you like it or not. Know that it might take months for the idea of the gift to grow on you and take on additional meaning.

If you give to others…

A. Know that part of you is imbedded into the gift. The gift represents you and you’d like to be accepted well.

B. Feel free to make a donation to a charity in honor of the person. People are generally caring and are honored when they are attached to charitable causes. Everyone wins.
C. Before buying a gift, ask the person if there is something particular they would like. Help elicit from the person what they want because they will make it easier for you to please them. Do not accept a wishy-washy answer. Ask them to clarify for you by a certain time so you have plenty of time to obtain the gift. Set a deadline.

Other considerations

· Just because someone gives you a gift doesn’t mean you have to give one to them. We want to strive for mutuality in relationships, but not every interaction is mutual. You may feel awkward, but you do not have to make excuses or try to come up with an excuse or a promise of a future plan.

· If you agree not to exchange gifts, but then someone gets you one, know that they have unilaterally altered the terms of the agreement. Be kind to them and receive the gift graciously, but realize you acted in accord with your mutual agreement.

· Be exceedingly kind, but don’t try to go against your feelings. If you are confused or disappointed, talk about how the gift makes you feel. The person is going to make some judgment on your reaction. Bless them. You always want to make the other person feel good.

· Remember that relationships are ambiguous. Gifts will also be ambiguous. Manage your disappointment where necessary, and share the joys as fully as you can.

· Remember, you have all year long to get together – for dinner, lunch, coffee or a walk. You don’t have to fit everything into a packed month. Perhaps your gift would be finding a time in February when you can carve a day when you can be together. Extend your gift into a year-round activity.

This list is not exhaustive. What else works for you?

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