art of Gift-giving
A little girl once received
the best birthday present of all: an enormous doll's house made out
of cardboard paper. It looked like Alice in Wonderland's magical garden
maze with hidden nooks and crannies, tiny trapdoors painted in bright
colours, and the smallest cardboard furniture you've ever seen. That
little girl was me, and my mother and I spent many a happy hour creating
a miniature wonderland out of plain cardboard paper which had made
for a most memorable occasion.
are more often than not, an expression of how you feel towards the
recipient. Whether it is an occasion such as a birthday, an anniversary,
or a wedding, some amount of thought and care must go behind it, unless
you want some secretly disappointed friends and relatives on your
hands. If it were someone very dear, you would naturally want to make
it special, and all of this requires some amount of planning.
will be familiar with the practice of setting aside a special gift
budget every month. It would be wise if, along with it, one were to
make a list of possible gift items one might give. This too must not
be any boring, random list that one could palm off to just about anyone.
It should have that personal touch which makes the recipient feel
a list must be made with care; say for instance, you're out window
shopping with a teenage cousin who simply adores a pair of shoes on
display. Make a mental note and write it down on your list. A pre-teen/teenage
daughter or sister, who loves to embellish her room, will simply love
the idea of having her room re-decorated and re-furnished the way
she always wanted it. If you have a rather intelligent sixth grader
nephew who's particularly interested in the sciences--someone that
would rather read than tinker with toys for instance-- he won't be
too thrilled to get a shirt, no matter how nice you think it looks
on him. Instead, you could get him a book on general knowledge or
one on science experiments. Subtleties such as these make all the
those who usually have no way of finding out what their friends and
relatives might be fond of, people's personalities and their homes
instantly reveal what kinds of gifts they might like. If an uncle's
home for instance has many plants and ferns, it indicates that he
has a green thumb. You could collect, small ceramic and colourful
clay pots, even porcelain cups of different shapes and sizes, purchase
plants/flowering and cactus plants separately and grow them for him.
No doubt, your plant-loving uncle would be delighted to have more
additions to his garden or balcony. If you have a newly married girl
cousin, or perhaps an aunt who loves her kitchen, you could purchase
a set of cookie jars or make your own spice rack with glass containers
to keep the spices in. A carpenter can do the job of making a small
wooden case, and those glass bottles/containers you hadn't thrown
away will come in handy. Fabric paint can be used to scroll in 'cumin',
'red pepper,' 'cinnamon' etc (fabric paint can also be used to decorate
those cookie jars), and this would make for a nice handcrafted present
for a special occasion or someone you deem special.
and mothers-in-law will appreciate handcrafted gifts as well. If your
mother-in-law loves to drink tea, you could purchase/make (with the
help of that magician carpenter of course) a small plywood box with
slots, fill it up with good blends of different kinds of tea (eg.
tea from Africa, Ceylon, India and so on), and voila, it will be your
mom-in-law's favourite treasure chest. A patchwork quilt you've made
with time and care will not only warm your grandmother's toes, but
the cockles of her heart as well, and grandmoms no doubt love handcrafted
gifts more than anything. (For this gift, you have to accumulate shreds
of different kinds of fabrics, keeping of course, a consistency throughout
in terms of prints and shades. And yes, you need the time to actually
sit down and make it, or, if you're really pressed for time, have
it made to order without granny ever finding out!)
your mom is fond of birds, make her a plywood birdfeed, complete with
a small tray to keep water in, and paint it yourself. Add some birdseed
as a finishing touch, and hang on her balcony or outside her window.
It would make for a lovely surprise birthday present.
and babies more often than not make for the most difficult of recipients.
For example, one may be at a loss when a six or eight year old's birthday
is around the corner. A little boy will love a collection of matchbox
cars, and a little girl will simply adore a set of handmade (or purchased)
clothes for her dolls. Johnson's baby products now have a line of
gift sets consisting of lotions, powders and soaps, which make for
an ideal gift for a newborn or toddler.
day trips and free tickets for your friends, an exotic home-cooked
dinner for your wife on your wedding anniversary (provided you can
actually cook), all make for thoughtful and fun gifts as well. If
a home-cooked meal seems impossible, an album can be made to order,
with velvet binding or other. At Nilkhet, there are various binding
shops where one could also bind (if you use velvet, leather, etc,
it'll cost you Tk80-Tk100) and laminate a copy of favourite poems
/ quotes and gift to a loved one.
surprise gift baskets filled with goodies would be delightful to receive
as well. A friend who loves to dress up for example will love the
idea of a nicely embellished basket, with make-up and sample perfumes.
Or a teenager who loves comics and stationery would be ecstatic to
receive an assortment of them. A 14-15 year old would also be ecstatic
to receive a set of glitter lip glosses, colourful plastic bangles,
and a waist-belt.
thought behind a gift, the originality and innovation that goes behind
making it increases the recipient's pleasure ten-fold. And that sometimes,
is what makes giving a gift so much more fun than receiving one.
By Rubaiyat Khan