Belenen (belenen) wrote,

gifting: what makes a gift more meaningful for me

icon: "presents (a photo of a colorful pile of presents: my gifts for others for winter Solstice 2013)"

prompt from kehlen_crow: If someone wanted to give you a gift, what would make the object, or action, more special and meaningful?

Unlike most people, a gift is more special to me if it is given in honor of a day that matters to me: winter solstice, spring equinox, my birthday, my spiritual birthday, or if we are close enough to have one, our friendiversary. So that is one way to make it more meaningful. Another is to tell me ahead of time (but not more than a month ahead of time) that you are getting me a gift, and give me a very general idea of the genre of the present, because I like to anticipate (but if you tell me exactly what it is then it just feels like an annoying wait, not anticipation). That's not to say random gifting isn't special, but it doesn't have the additional aspect of "I know this day is important to you" or "I value our connection enough to celebrate it with gifts."

The things I want a gift to express are: I know you, I value your contributions and support your efforts, our connection is important to me, I want you to be happy, I want you to be taken-care-of.

"I know you" is best expressed through something made for me or customized for me, or something. Allison made me a mixed-media art piece of a snow leopard with a forest where the white fur would usually be: you could hardly get more perfect for me! Topaz got me a windchime made from driftwood and multi-colored glass; also perfect. Kat has gotten me several beautiful glass objects in varying shades of violet and purple. Heather got me a carved wooden otter.

Buying a gift from my Amazon wish list also says "I know you" because I am very thorough and I mostly know what things would make me happy. Looking through my wishlist and buying something similar works for some things but not most. Many times what is on my wish list has been carefully chosen from every available item on Amazon, and I don't want a different brand/size/etc. If it is a product, best to get exactly what I wished, if anything; but with art, books, music, and films/shows you can probably figure out similar things I may not have thought of. I felt very cared-for when for winter holidays Topaz' family bought me the exact toaster oven that I wanted, though it was nowhere near the cheapest.

"I value your contributions and support your efforts" is easiest to express with shares/likes/comments, or by referencing it later. I really appreciate when people link my stuff in a way I can observe. I feel affirmed and valued when people do this. Any gift given with the note that it is for this reason also makes me feel loved in this way.

"Our connection is important to me" is best expressed in gifts that are reminders of how we connect. For instance if we both love trees, giving me a sapling, or if we both love cinnamon, giving me a cinnamon tea. Hannah has given me several gifts in this category including a tiny box with a glow-in-the-dark faery on it and an amethyst ring with a matching one which they wore.

"I want you to be happy" is expressed in gifts where the giver knows that a thing will bring me a lot of joy, and so they get it for me. This works best with things I can't afford. Right now, that's just about anything. In the future, I think it will be things that I might feel too guilty to buy. Perhaps someone would offer to pay part of the cost on the steel finger claws I desperately want, in order to encourage me to get them (because a $200 item is... maybe too decadent). Topaz got a set of my photos printed and made into a book for me because I had never had any of my digital photos printed -- it was too much of a luxury for me to spend money on.

"I want you to be taken-care-of" is expressed in people buying me things I need or giving me access to resources -- stuff like medication, phone service, gas, food, rides to events or partial rides. When I have money and a steady car, the money and transportation will drop hugely in how much the gift means to me. Right now it means a lot because both are so rare for me. Another aspect of this is when people gift me coffee (as in, a prepared drink from a coffeeshop), because it is a ritual and substance that makes me feel safe and nourished, even though it is not a need like food or meds.

A gift has the opposite effect when it shows a lack of knowing me. Examples are giving me perfume, lotion, or bath products (because I don't like or use those); giving me boring makeup or lip balm with artificial ingredients (I only like extreme colors and I am very particular about lip balm); giving me shoes or clothes (unless I chose them they are almost guaranteed to be stuff I won't wear); giving me pens or stationary (I am very particular! though there have been exceptions -- Elizabeth I genuinely liked your gifts!); giving me scented or ornamental candles (I like very few scents available in candles, almost never burn anything other than tealights, and I loathe when practical objects are made impractical); or giving me jewelry (I prefer to make my own jewelry and almost always dislike any other jewelry, though there have been exceptions when the artist knew me and made it in a style I'd like, or when the piece had deep personal meaning somehow). It also has the opposite effect if someone gives me something that violates my core values (one-time-use objects like glowsticks or k-cups, conspicuous consumption stuff like an expensive 'big name' purse, objectifying or exoticizing art, media that affirms oppression, etc), though that is more on a spectrum because what seems problematic to me may not seem so to others. For instance, I would feel somewhat pleased and known if someone gave me a copy of Tina Fey's "Bossypants" (more so if it was a used copy!) -- there is a lot of problematic stuff in Fey's feminism but if I only ever consumed perfect media I'd consume none at all.
Tags: care and feeding of belenens, giving, questions, writing prompts

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