The Season Of Giving … And Returning


Christmas is a duty. You didn’t ask for it. Nobody did. Sure, it’s a time for friends and family to gather, but it’s also one of the few times where you’re forced to give other people stuff, and if you’re lucky you might get something, too.

When picking out gifts for others, you have the option to be a) clever b) humorous c) practical or d) safe. When gifts are exchanged, it can be a similar feeling to turning in a simple homework assignment: As long as you get it in on time, you get credit. Don’t just pick out a gift for your loved ones; make it a memorable one that they can cherish for many years to come. As an example, when purchasing moving away gifts for your friends or family members who are planning to move out of town, you might want to be more thoughtful. It is certain that such gifts will remain in the recipient’s memory for a significant amount of time and will give them a reason to remember you.

In the same way, when choosing a Secret Santa gift, you may need to consider as much creative flair and thoughtfulness as when you choose the actual gift. The reason I say this is because I had a really bad experience with the Secret Santa gifts. During the last Secret Santa exchange I participated in, I received a plastic strainer, a bamboo backscratcher and a six pack of Yakult yogurt shots. I was pretty flabbergasted that a somebody would assemble such a bizarre collection of wares, but the yogurt drinks tasted great, the backscratcher provided relief once and the colander is on my floor as a Christmas tree substitute.

Thinking about someone’s interest and gifting them something related to it, but with a personal touch, would be the icing on the cake. Suppose the person you want to gift something to has a taste for uniquely designed jewels, looking up some custom made jewellery might be a great place to start. This could help you find some bespoke designs that will surely appeal to them. Similarly, if you have a friend who’s a history buff, it can also be very thoughtful to give someone an antique artefact that you know will appeal to them. They tend to relish the experience of looking around for some options, so you could allow them to sample their wares and find something that has a unique piece of history, perhaps from the best antique store adelaide (or one where you live, or one more conveniently located. In this situation, your gift will be two things: the artefact itself, as well as the story you provide along with it. This would definitely not come across as a low-effort gift, and would probably win you a lot of brownie points with the person receiving it.
Unless you are trying to butter somebody up and win their favor, you’re probably gifting to express a form of gratitude or affection to the recipient. Receiving a gift from a friend is also a cool way to learn a little bit about how somebody else perceives you. I once received a set of LED fingertip lights, which I perceived to be a symbol of that person’s understanding of my love for dance music. I don’t actually like raves and I will probably never open the package, but when I see it in my closet, I’m reminded of my friendship with somebody who I could call, catch up with or meet out on the town when I’m feeling isolated and need to break out of my own bubble.

While it’s possible that somebody might nail it and get you something that changes your life for the better, opens your mind to a new perspective or solves a problem you were unaware that you had, at best, the gifts you got this Christmas probably are only almost things you would have picked for yourself. It might be the coolest shirt that doesn’t quite fit, something that you already have or something that you just don’t have room for in your life.

When you make the returns and exchanges this week, rather than getting frazzled by the lack of parking, long lines, manager verifications and hassles that you face, take a moment to see all of the people around you going through the same thing. These are people who are loved by somebody, part of a family or did something to earn that pogo stick.

This retail season is full of stressors, but screw that. We’re all as imperfect as the gifts we’re returning. And remember not to be too impatient at that woman who is holding up the line: She is just like your aunt, who hates what you bought her.