This statement sums up the highlight of my weekend. Yeah, I’m boring like that. I’ll tell you about it in a second. So here’s the background. Toun’s childhood friend is getting married in December and she has been racking her brain about what gift would be most appropriate in light of the length of their friendship, the bride-to-be’s repertoire of rich friends, and Toun’s own disposable income. So, she buzzed me for ideas on what she should get this friend. The first question I asked was ‘how close are you guys?’, to which she went on about how they were seat mates in primary school, lived together in CBN quarters in Satellite town. Again, I typed ‘yeah, so how close ARE you? The operative word being ‘are’ – present tense’. She replied that the girl is a BBM contact and they catch up once in a while, they follow each other on Twitter and Instagram. I said “Put some money in an envelope and give it to her before the wedding”.
Thus began the three-pronged conversation about the coldness of giving someone money. I argued that money was better than giving a gift that would be rather useless to the person. She didn’t want to give a gift that would come across as cheap, neither did she want her gift to be tossed aside and remain unused. She reckoned if she went along the lines of making party favours, she would have spent a decent amount of money and she would feel good about herself afterwards.
Here’s an argument for the three types of gifts available.
An actual physical product hand picked by the giver for the recipient – Proponents of this type of gift say that it is something to be cherished and viewed by the recipient. The recipient would always look at the item and a soft/warm bubbly feeling will rise up in their heart for the giver. This is very noble if the giver has a real (not imagined) relationship with the beneficiary. Giving an actual product (if done properly) means it’s very likely that desire, and opportunity will produce 100% success. Both the giver and the receiver would be extremely happy. It’s a case of knowing what your friend wants/likes and just getting it (if you can afford it) Sorry, Nengz, no Pigalles from this corner yet.
However, this method of gifting has been known to go wrong in the absence of a close relationship. A colleague of my cousin once gave her a box of Huggies scented wipes as a gift for the baby. Nice idea, right? Well, the baby reacted badly to all scented products and my cousin never used scented products for her baby. Or the story of a group of friends who bought a washing machine for their newly married mate whose new house didn’t have running water. One would surmise the friends would have visited enough times to know that Abdulrahman used to bring water kegs every Monday. Or even know that those drums in the bathrooms and kitchen were an indication that a washing machine was just dead weight.
Gift Vouchers – Advocates of gift vouchers say you can never go wrong with vouchers. It straddles that thin line between the cold impersonal sense that cash gives, and allowing the beneficiary the choice of acquiring what he/she actually wants. Again, this method works well if you have a good relationship with the recipient. For instance, I know giving Isoken a gift card from Debenhams would work. The girl practically lives on that website. A voucher leaves her options to get whatever she wants from a store she likes. Gift vouchers also usually pocket friendly. Chances are that you won’t have to battle with yourself over the doubts of whether your friend needs one more leather belt.
Cash- Some people say you can never go wrong with cash as a gift, but cash gifts have been known to cause rifts in relationships in the past. In my old office, we usually took a contribution when someone either had a baby, got married, or was leaving. (
Ah, that’s true… they didn’t take a contribution for me when I was leaving Ati and Sols… I see you) Anyway, the usual style was to use the contribution to buy gifts for the person in question. As time went past, we got lazy; trying to think of creative gifts for colleagues became such a chore. “Oh Mr. S likes the law… let’s buy him books on commercial transaction”./”Miss B loves Manchester United, let’s get her a personalized T-shirt”. We ran out of steam and after a while even the recipient knew to just expect an envelope of cash. I mean, you can only buy so many Arsenal Jerseys for a colleague who has been in the same office with you for 3 years.
The downside of cash is knowing the balance between just right and a tad insulting. But, you should never look a gift horse in the mouth so ‘no amount is too small for the work of the ministry’.
There’s an extra category. Look at it as a bonus Nigerian category. It’s the option Toun wants to go for. The sharing of party favours as a form of giving to the celebrant is another option. While I don’t understand how giving out engraved towels to guests at my grand father’s burial is a gift to me, but I am told it works. I believe the centralized placing of your name boldly as the giver of the gift automatically makes it about you the giver. ‘Rest in Peace Uncle James. Shared by Mary & Martha – maternal cousins of the dearly departed’. (Just in case guests were unsure what branch of the family tree the nice fluffy towels came from.
In all of this, it’s the thought that counts right?
What’s your preferred mode of gifting? What do you do when you receive a gift that you have absolutely NO use for? I usually try to regift stuff like that. But you have to have a methodical system if you want to do this. Don’t forget to write down who gave you what. It would be super awkward if you gave your friend’s son the Ben 10 watch they gave your own son on his 5th birthday. Do you graciously say ‘thanks’ when you receive something you don’t want? Or would you try to sell it and receive value for the gift instead of a Pashmina shawl or a pair of boxers.
Finally, when you give, do you give FOR YOU? Or do you give FOR THE RECIPIENT? Think about it!
Have a fabulous week ahead. Remember, it’s in the littlest things… like bringing a smile to someone’s face., a hug, a cup of coffee, a kind word and of course gifts ever so often. Oh look… it’s almost Christmas! (Or at least we can hope)
Peace, love & carrots (Because those babies are quite nutritious)
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Paul Moore