John Bunyan wrote, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” 

The holiday season is here, and along with it, gift-giving. As lovely as it is to receive a gift, most people say they gain more pleasure from giving gifts than getting them. What better time of year could there be to do something special for someone who can’t repay you than now?

The Message of the Gift

Giving a gift to someone says, “You matter,” or, “You’re special to me.”  

A true gift comes without strings, conditions, or expectations; otherwise, it isn’t a gift. In this me-focused, consumer-driven world of manipulative marketing, authentic gift-giving is rare.  

But it’s really not about the gift; it’s about our thoughtful intention (which is why people appreciate homemade gifts so much).

We don’t give a gift to get something in return or because we’re trying to repay someone for something nice they did for us.  

We give someone a gift for no other reason than because we care, love, and appreciate them.

The Spirit of the Gift

Giving the perfect gift is about adding happiness and joy to someone’s life. But it’s not so much about the gift as it is about the gift-giver. 

YOU make the gift special – the love, care, thoughtfulness, and meaning you put into the gift tells someone how much you think they mean to you. It also reveals what kind of person you are, that you’re someone who is thoughtful, generous, and kind.

Giving the “perfect” gift (if there is such a thing) is about:

  1. Enclosing a piece of your heart along with the gift (metaphorically speaking, of course.) 
  2. Thinking thoughtfully about the person you’re giving the gift to.
  3. Considering their interests, hobbies, happiness, and needs.
  4. Listening for clues about what they might want.
  5. Getting ideas from friends and family about what they might like.

The Heart of the Gift: Celebrating Them

Since you care about this person, the gift isn’t about giving them what you think they need or should learn to enjoy or an area of their life you feel they should upgrade, necessarily (but, sometimes, it might be one or all of those things, depending on the person and situation).

Your gift can be simple, homemade, or unique from an artisanal shop. Maybe it’ll be a big splurge to help make one of their dreams come true that would remain little more than a wish if it weren’t for you. 

Whatever it is, focus on their likes and preferences and keep an open mind; always remembering that it’s about them, not you.  

The Presentation of the Gift 

Wrap your gift with care; make it neat and festive, whether it’s cheerful, red wrapping paper with pine trees and snowmen, elegant foil paper with a fabric bow, or a gift you put inside a cozy knit stocking. Please put some thought into it and make it special. 

The Emotional Impact of the Gift: A Hug

One of the defining characteristics of the Danish culture is something called “hygge” (pronounced “hooga”), which is a “quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” It’s related to the English word “hug.

A heart-felt gift is giving and receiving a warm, cozy hug.

The Perfect Gift…

It’s rather beautiful when you stop to think about it. Giving a gift is sort of like giving a hug.

The “perfect” gift creates a warm, cozy feeling within the recipient’s heart. 

Gifts such as soft blankets, warm throws, and comfy pillows make lovely warm and cozy gifts in the spirit of hygge! So do presents like candles, lamps, and tealight lanterns. Or putting together a hot cocoa kit for your chocolate-loving friend, along with your favorite yummy cookie recipe that you wrap in a basket with a handwritten recipe and note. 

Please try not to let commercialism and consumerism taint the beauty and spirit of the holidays. We’ve all been through a lot. And times remain difficult for many people. We all could use a hug right now.

If there ever were a time we needed a bit more love, grace, and warmth throughout the world, it’s today. Spread a little holiday cheer this season by doing something nice for someone by practicing and enjoying the time-tested, heart-felt truth that it’s better to give than to receive. 

Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

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