When I was younger, I worried quite a bit about the gifts that I needed to get for some of the people I cared most about in my life. I’d worry and worry about picking out an item that would really show exactly how much I cared for them.
Inevitably, that meant spending quite a bit on an item. I was hung up on a sense that the price tag of an item was the surest way to indicate that you cared.
I remember spending hundreds on obscure DVD sets, signed first edition books, and other things for gifts for the people I cared most about.
I especially remember buying my wife-to-be some incredible gifts while we were dating – gifts that I absolutely could not afford in any reasonable measure of my personal finances.
Nowadays, I still spend quite a lot of time thinking about gifts for people – but today I scarcely think of the price tag at all.
I no longer feel as though I have to “prove” my friendship via an expensive gift.
Instead, I simply try to focus on giving the person a gift that he or she will actually get significant enjoyment and value from, regardless of the price.
Here’s an example. One of our closest friends has a bunch of different interests and hobbies, but she dearly loves her two dogs. Last year, for Christmas, we got her all of the ingredients necessary to make homemade organic treats for the dogs that will not only be tasty for them but really healthy, too.
The cost? About $30 or so. That’s far less than we might have spent in other years. However, it took a lot of thinking, some careful planning, and some legwork to pull it together.
Another example: I have another friend who comes home from work each night and heats up soup for supper. He loves soup and a slice of buttered bread for his evening meal – and that’s what he has almost every night.
For Christmas, we simply gave him a very small Crockpot along with a bunch of soup kits that were already bundled up. All he had to do was add one pouch and some water before work, turn it on low, and add the other pouch when he gets home. Thirty minutes later, he has great soup waiting for him – far tastier than the canned stuff. Most evenings, he eats the soup directly from the little crock.
Again, the total cost was fairly low, but it took some thinking and planning and legwork to make it all come together.
In both cases – and in a lot of other cases – it wasn’t even the gift itself that mattered that much. It was the thought. It was simply the fact that we spent time thinking about them and planning something that took into consideration who they were and what they valued on a deep level.
In other words, a great gift isn’t about the price tag. A great gift is a natural outgrowth of a great relationship. If you have a strong relationship with someone, you can usually conceive of a lot of great ideas for them that are pretty inexpensive.
In the end, a thoughtful but inexpensive gift trumps something expensive but less than useful every single time. Not only does thoughtfulness show that you care, it also saves you money.