Top 3 Skills for Great Gift Giving

By Kim Votruba-Matook of The Artful Educator.

Photo courtesy of  CreateHer Stock.

Photo courtesy of CreateHer Stock.

The season of giving has begun… but what does that really mean? I don’t know about you, but after noon on Thanksgiving, I get bombarded by commercials, newspapers (yes, still) and emails (OMG, the emails!), all telling me how to get the best deals on gifts for everyone I know. I struggle with this. It is easy to get swept up in the hype because you can feel like you’re missing out on something great, but after I step away and think about this process, I ask the question, “what is gift giving meant to be?” It is easy not to think about it and to avoid all of the considerations listed above, but that’s not how I operate. Gift giving requires a set of skills that are important for managing life in all its forms, and is hugely important to teach your children. As we embark on this year’s season of giving, I have pulled out my top three to share:

1. Listening & Observing

These skills go hand-in-hand. People talk… a lot. When given the opportunity, they often talk about themselves. Social media has changed the way people present their persona, raising self-disclosure rates to an unprecedented high. People feel much more comfortable talking about an array of topics that were not-so-public a few generations back. This is all okay when you see “the thing behind the thing”- people just want to connect! They want to be liked; to find comfort in other people who share an experience or have the same dreams. So, observing behavior, body talk, and reactions is critical here, to temper the possibility of not quite hearing the full story through solely a verbal conversation. Do you sometimes feel deflated after a conversation you’ve had? Didn’t feel like you were listened to? Well, you can change that feeling for others and lead by example. The next time you’re in a casual one-to-one conversation (especially with a child you cherish!), instead of planning what you are going to say next, ask questions and encourage the other person to talk more. Some great prompting questions are, “Why is that important to you?” and “That’s really interesting. Can you share more about that?” Take notice of their body language, too. See what excites and engages them. Then make it memorable! Find a way to manifest that conversation or connection into a thoughtful gift and they will know you really were listening!

2. Focusing on Quality over Cost

 Most people don’t have a hard time spending money… on themselves. But when it comes to someone else, barriers can arise. There are questions of whether the person is deserving, if they will really like/use it, and if this is a waste of hard earned income. This is why Black Friday is so successful; it sates those fears by giving you discounted deals. So even if the person doesn’t like the gift, at least you got it for 40% off. But this is also why a little kid scribbling on a paper and saying, “I made this for you” works too – it is a thoughtfully-intended gift made with you in mind. If you know a gift is perfect for someone and the giving of it is sincere, the price point should not matter, right? You are infusing a level of connection, love, and consideration into a physical thing that prior to purchase had no meaning. That is powerful! Making an effort to go above and beyond to show you care can and should be taught to the children in your life. Showing that you care does and will always matter.

3. Managing expectations that your thoughtfulness may go unappreciated

 Sadly, this is a reality of the world. Your consideration for someone else can and will go unappreciated (or at least may not be appreciated to the degree you think it should.) This is hard, but raising a thoughtful child is more important. You cannot manage other people’s reactions or expectations, but you can teach your child to have confidence in their abilities and celebrate their thoughtfulness by acknowledging their good work and creativity. An incredible way to do this is through crafting. Your child can make gifts for family members and be proud of the fact that they made a gift from nothing. They gave random materials form and meaning for the sole purpose of sharing them with loved ones. This is art and it is a truly unique and beautiful gift! So now that you know the three keys to great gift giving, how will your generosity shine through this holiday season? Leave a comment below and share!