The Art of Giving

While Christmas shopping this year I’ve rediscovered that it’s not easy giving that perfect gift. Mind you it never has been simple – look at the three wise men on that first Christmas. Whatever were they thinking when they delivered a dense yellow metal and a couple of incense ingredients to a newborn baby? To be fair to them they probably weren’t aware that the “King” wasn’t able to sit up yet, let alone ascend to the throne. The message therefore is to know something about the recipient – what do they need? Although this is not straight forward in a society that has everything. What do you give someone whose cupboards are bulging with last year’s unwanted gifts?

Practical gifts are perhaps the way forward. For people concerned about world poverty you can always give them a goat; although as the goat is in Africa they will probably never bond with their present. Giving a goat that is in another country is advantageous to you as it avoids a potentially difficult gift wrapping experience. If you have friends who are renovating there is always a tool for him and a first aid kit for her. Keen gardeners are apt to receive a plant from me. There is a plant for everyone: beautiful orchids for delicate types; mother-in-law’s tongues for the waspish; and Venus flytraps for those with questionable hygiene.

This year there are some weird gifts out there; some like the dog lamp with dog-poop shaped floor switch seem destined to feature in the Boxing Day sales. However I was tempted by the “Control a Man Remote” (helps get him to listen and multi-task), but was disappointed to find that the man was not included. The strangest gift of all I saw was on line – a ‘Dog Genealogy DNA Testing Kit’. As it could tell the breed and physical characteristics of the dog it seemed to be the perfect gift for the visually impaired dog owner.

Once settled on the nature of the gift the problem of how much to spend then arises. As a general rule I spend enough so that the recipient is not insulted; but not so much that it is worth their while taking it back.

Many teenagers I know are so determined to get exactly what they want that they demand hard cold cash. A pity as what many of my teenage nieces and nephews need, as a quick glance into their rooms will show, is a new pair of socks or underpants. Perhaps those three kings from the east were on to something afterall. Give a youngster some coinage and something to cover up the agrarian smells that emanate from their bedroom.