• Vidhya S

'Tis The Season for Gift Giving

Hey guys! Christmas is just around the corner (okay, it's not even December yet but I'm excited and I can't wait to hear carols playing EVERYWHERE) and 'tis the season for gift giving. I know birthdays and holidays can be stressful; you need to figure out what gifts to get for your loved ones and it can be strenuous for both your mind and your wallet.

I was thinking about gift-giving the other day and a sudden thought came to mind. You know those cost-value analysis realtors use to convince home buyers that a certain property is worth the buck? For example, property A is in an up and coming area; highway projects with expected completion in 2020 provides easy access to KL, an MRT station is under works, some malls and colleges are sprouting up soon. This is a great investment as property prices are expected to rise in near future.

So these cost-value analyses often give us some idea about the return on our investment. We can apply such analysis to the art of gift-giving as well. When we consider our recipient, their tastes, preferences, interests and personality and get them a special gift with them in mind, value will far exceed cost. After all, value is in the eye of the beholder. A golden bracelet costs just as much whether you buy it for an avid collector or someone who's allergic to gold, but the value differs immensely. So the key question here is this - what do you know about your recipient?

In this life, I have been blessed with loving family and friends. And from them, I have received some of the most beautiful gifts. Gifts that I will treasure forever. One of the most memorable gifts my husband and I have received is from my sister-in-law, Suriya Anni ('anni' being the Tamil word for sister-in-law). I recall excitedly telling my Anni how G and I met and bonded over Harry Potter and movies. You know that early phase of the relationship when you can't help yourself but talk on and on about your special someone and divulge every detail of your dates to your family and friends. Yep, I was going through that phase. And my anni patiently listened and shared in my excitement. My husband and I realised on the very first date that we both loved the Harry Potter books. But G hadn't read the 8th book! So on our second date, I loaned the book to him. And that's how it all began.

For those of you who are fans as well, do you ever day-dream about being at Hogwarts and how life would be like there as a wizard/witch? As a child, I used to do this all the time. Even today, I still wonder about it. G and I took the Pottermore quiz and I was sorted to Hufflepuff (Go Badgers!) and G to Ravenclaw. I must say, I was slightly disappointed. I mean, how were we ever supposed to play chess or do homework together if we couldn't share the same common room? Then, I realised I was going to be one of those weirdos who spent most of my meal times at the Ravenclaw table; a speck of yellow in the sea of blue. Why? Well, obviously I had to eat with my best friend! That's when it really hit me I think. Even in a different world, just like an Accio spell, I was drawn to him.

Going back to our story, fast-forward a year and two months, G and I were getting married. We had our wedding reception in a hall in Batu Caves. As G and I entered the hall all dressed in blue (happy coincidence, go Ravens!), there was a beautiful Harry Potter-inspired dessert bar awaiting us in the corner. I was speechless! My anni had planned it all out to surprise us. And a wonderful surprise it was. There was a banner with our names on it in the renown Harry Potter movie font as a backdrop and a table full of cleverly named sweets and chocolates. I felt like I was graduating from Hogwarts! It made the day that much more special having a corner paying homage to something that brought us closer together. Thank you anni for the most thoughtful gift 💗

The Harry Potter dessert corner at our wedding lunch.

Another wonderful gift I received was from two special friends. On my birthday, my friends, Preetha and Kala, gifted me with these hand-made beauties:

Beautiful '21 Reasons' board from Preetha.
Beautiful scrapbook from Kala.

I really appreciate the time and effort they took to make these gifts. Each handwritten word and drawing was from the heart and that makes these gifts priceless. Preetha's '21 Reasons' board has pictures of all the experiences we've gone through together and till this day, when I'm having a bad day, looking at this board always makes me feel better. Kala's scrap book has a very meaningful title; once when we were talking about random things as friends do, she asked me what I would name a book about myself. I jokingly answered, "Under Construction: Sorry For The Inconvenience." She kept this in mind and created a scrapbook containing loads of pictures and beautiful words with this title. Each gift reflects so much thought and is so meaningful. It reminds me of our adventures together, our late night Skype calls during summer break and all our good times in college. I don't know if I can ever give them gifts even half as good but I will try. Thank you guys and you will always be the Rancho and Raju to my Farhan 💗

Recently, I received a special birthday gift from my husband in the form of a weekend getaway to Bukit Tinggi. I wrote about this experience in another blog post so I won't bore you with a repeat. I love exploring new places and I had a great time. Walking hand in hand on the streets of that European-esque town made me feel like a Disney Princess prancing about. I was so excited I nearly burst out in song! That weekend we went horse-back riding, had our caricature drawn, enjoyed a candle-light dinner at a bistro and tried on Kimonos for the first time at the nearby Japanese Gardens. Since then, we've framed the caricature and it now dots our living room as a memento of an unforgettable weekend 💗

Our framed caricature.

So back to our cost-value analysis. Cost is not the sole determinant of value. Gifts are valuable when it reflects the personality, passions and experiences of the recipient. Taking the time to consider the recipient, what he or she likes, what excites them, is important. Good gifts need not necessarily be costly. Experiences such as a home-cooked meal for an avid foodie or a picnic at the park for a nature lover can be very valuable. Gifts like this show that you know your recipient and have put thought into the gift you're giving them. Hand-made things such as cards or scrapbooks also make wonderful presents.

Although it can be stressful, studies show that gift-giving can have psychological benefits for the giver. Giving without expecting anything in return to make someone else happy can bring joy through the production of neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, also known as the Happiness Trifecta. These neurochemicals in the brain provide the gift-giver a happiness boost. I find that even the act of figuring out what to get and going out there to find it can have positive effects on us. Last year, I celebrated G's birthday with him for the first time. I wanted to get him something really special. Coming up with a gift idea might take considerable time and thought but when you figure out the perfect gift for someone, there's no feeling like it! It's such an incredible rush!

So this is a guy who loves Harry Potter, but owns none of the books! He borrowed the first few books from friends and the rest, he read the e-books. So then I thought, "Wait a sec, I can get him the Harry Potter book set!" After a bit of searching, I finally found the set. So I wrapped it up and wrote a note that read, "Something every Harry Potter fan should have." The look on his face as he opened the gift was priceless. The books now sit on our shelf along with my 8th Harry Potter book, ready for our children to devour one day. And when the time comes, we'll turn to Pottermore and get them sorted.

So, this Christmas or for any other occasion that's coming up, revel in the gift-giving process. It's a beautiful thing that brings joy not only to the recipient, but to the giver too. And as long as it's from the heart, you can never go wrong.

Image by RetroSupply

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