Be a Better Gift Giver

Niki Marinis

How to give more thoughtful gifts

Photo Art by Katie Dutch

Gift giving isn’t about asking someone for a list of things they want and buying them. And it’s not about giving some chintzy chachkies simply to have something to give.

It’s about finding something you think that person would love, something that resonates with you, who that person is and what they like. You know, something personal as if you actually KNEW them.

For Christmas one year my BEST FRIEND got me one of those bath soap gift sets you find at the drugstore.

Really? Seriously?

I love owls, Vonnegut, the color green, sparklies, nail polish, true crime, 80s movies, pop culture, leopard print and a good stinky cheese, and THIS is what you get me for Christmas? As if I was a co-worker whose name you barely remember?

It’s about being thoughtful and personal when gift giving.

Gift cards are nice. I mean, who doesn’t like money? And people would rather have the money and be able to buy something they want than end up with a pile of things they really don’t.

But you can buy the things you want any time. One thoughtful gift is worth 20 meaningless ones. A true gift is seeing something that makes you think, “Niki would LOVE this!”

A surprise! A gift should be a little treasure that fills you with anticipation and excitement and magic that you get to unwrap and discover. Something that makes you giddy and feel special because it was chosen just for you.

Giving a gift shouldn’t feel like an obligation. If it does, don’t do it. Screw society and what they want to push on you. And while we’re at it…

Gifts aren’t given in order to get something.

I’ve seen women in new relationships worry themselves sick over whether or not to get the guy they’re seeing something for Christmas. They’re terrified that if they get HIM something and he doesn’t get THEM something then they’ll be humiliated.

And the advice I see given to them is to buy something but keep it hidden and wait to see if he gives them something FIRST. If he does, then she can give him her gift and if he doesn’t, then she can keep it, give it to someone else, whatever.

That couldn’t be more wrong.

Really? Seriously?

Giving a gift isn’t about getting one in return. You give a gift because you found something you thought someone would love, and you want to give it to them. Period, end of story, full stop.

Gifts aren’t about cost.

If a friend saw something they thought was hilarious that I would get a kick out, I don’t care where it came from or how much it cost.

If you bought me a $1,000 Louis Vuitton bag I would give you the side eye and be disappointed because you clearly don’t know me. Louis Vuitton is hideous, I don’t care how much it costs.

Expensive things don’t impress me, thoughtfulness does.

If we gave thoughtful gifts instead of grabbing whatever happens to be at the checkout register or on the nearest endcap, we could give fewer gifts and have them actually mean something. Insanity.

If you don’t feel like you have the time or energy to give a thoughtful gift then you have some really shitty relationships with people, man. It shouldn’t feel like a burden. If it does, you need some new family and friends and/or social skills.

Gift giving shouldn’t be like Project Runway or Top Chef where you scramble at the last minute to get SOMETHING on the runway or on the plate, or under the tree. You CAN give a gift after the suggested deadline.

Stop giving meaningless gifts to people that are just going to end up at the local thrift store next week. Though, I do have thoughtful friends who might scoop them up to gift me.

Take the time to reflect on and cherish your relationships, and put the energy into finding a thoughtful gift that would brighten that persons soul. It’s not that hard, man.

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I'm an original. A Warhol. You're just a print. I like thrift store owls, true crime, and breaking hearts.

Ventura, CA

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