The hard part is giving a decent gift

The hard part is giving a decent gift

By Bikram Vohra

Published: Fri 18 May 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 18 May 2018, 2:00 AM

We have all done it at some stage and sloshed about in the delicious guilt of shortchanging friends with a sad, pathetic gift. That last-minute hunt in the cupboard for something we can recycle from gifts given to us that we hated and now will foist upon someone else. Giving decent well-thought-of gifts is an art and requires grace and effort - neither of which commodities the human race has in great measure.
And yet, presents, when well chosen and gracefully given, can be one of the happiest ways of establishing bonds between people. They don't have to be expensive: they just have to be thoughtful and appropriate.
Very tough to do.
I remember a friend once giving a tennis ball to his girl two days after proposing to her. All it said was the ball is now in your court. She aced it back with a yes and they are still making quite a match of it. They were pretty good at this sort of thing because she once gave him a pair of new sports socks wrapped in ribbon the morning of his interview for the foreign service with the obvious legend, go on, sock it to them. He didn't make it - but that is another story. at least they had a warm laugh out of it. Perhaps the nicest feeling comes when someone you care for gives you something he knows you have been wanting for a long time.
Regrettably, too few of us ever consider the spontaneity of giving a gift as an important act, usually consigning it into the realm of "Oh heck, do we have to? It's the end of the month, let's back off." Nothing's worse than a gift given with bad grace, you can spot it a mile away which is why I thought it would be a good idea if we had a little fun with the different sorts of presents one gets and also gives. See if you can spot yourself.
From the home collection. Something lying in the house that needs a bit of spit and polish and who will know the difference, just wrap it nicely and fork it across. Usually given to you by someone with similar sentiment because they didn't want it either. It just gets handed on and on. Not particularly conducive to warmth and happiness.

Flowers. The last-minute rescue act by falling back on the painfully obvious because it is faaaar too late now, so let's just stop and buy a flipping bouquet.

Recycled on the circuit. We once got back a gift with our card in from 2014 - they hadn't even opened it in three years! Some gifts have been doing the rounds even longer.

The delayed gift. So sorry, wanted to get you something special but we couldn't get to it on time, will have it sent to you as soon as we get our hands on it, you'll love it. Certainly will if it fetches up but mostly it doesn't materialise. ah, the absentee pleasures of good intention. Nice way to get out of it because no way you are sending it later, who are you kidding?

The crappy gift. Given without a card with your name on it, let them go figure who gave this perfectly ghastly item in a brown bag, the pleasures of anonymity.

The symbolic gift. Nice euphemism to use when you want to chisel someone with "it's the thought that counts" angle. So you cough up some silly trinket or self-made sortie in the arts and try to personalise the effort, anything to save expenditure. This way, the recipient has to gush appreciation while wondering what to do with the bally thing.

The redeemable gift voucher. Unimaginative and cold at one time, now thoroughly redeemable - and perhaps the best idea, especially if it is a spa or something relaxing.

The intellectual gift. A Shakespearean compendium, some non-fiction treatise by an obscure writer, a book of abstract poetry, some grotesque sculpture or twisted piece of metal called 'Intrigue', and other such esoteric nonsense you definitely do not want, no way; now the other has to exult and say thank you for nothing.

The travel leftover gift. So evidently foreign that it just has to be something someone bought as a souvenir on some trip and is now foisting upon you. I mean who would deliberately go out to Dubai Mall and buy you a Naga bead necklace or a tapestry done by Inca tribesmen or an African lion's tooth bracelet or something? You know it's a $2 souvenir!

The memory lapse. My goodness, is it your anniversary? Why didn't you tell us, we would have brought something for you!
The idjit gift. You don't want to give something, fine, stay out, but there is this type that thinks it can clown its way out of things. It brings along stupid childish pranks as a copout. like a feeding bottle for a 40th birthday, and then expects hilarity in return.

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