Fouad Alaa has your guide how to choosing the perfect V-day (or any day) gift.
The act of giving and receiving gifts is something that all of us indulge in regardless of culture or gender. A gift is a token of appreciation that is equivalent to a feeling held for the receiver.
Around this time of year and especially when Valentine’s Day is coming, some people have difficulty expressing how they feel in the form of a gift. The expectations of a Valentine’s gift is usually high and that adds on an extra pressure, especially for guys, regarding what to get as a gift.
All of us are not the same when it comes to appreciating gifts. Some people would appreciate a gift for its value or practical use, others for what it symbolises or the thought behind it, but the key to figuring out the perfect gift is to figure out which type does the other person fall into. Recall all the gifts your partner received from you or others, and see which one received the best reaction and why.
Depending on the answer, you can estimate which type of gifts would be most appreciated.
The best thing about picking the perfect practical gift is that it only requires simple observations, and that makes the picking process much easier. The safe and fast option is observing their possessions and keeping an eye on what is missing or what is present but lacking. For example, if you notice that your girlfriend or wife doesn’t usually wear a watch or that their favourite perfume or facial scrub (whatever the hell that is) is almost done, then probably a new watch or a new set of their favourite toiletries would be perfect.
Another option of practical gifts can be something that they are really passionate about or almost obsessed with. Don’t mistake the fact that your girlfriend owns 600 types of perfume or nail polish with the notion that one more would be useless (in that case more is always better as long as it is good). It is equivalent to a guy who owns 600 play station game discs and gets a new one; it might even be appreciated too much and becomes the theme of the next week.
So observe, target and hit the shops!
For most guys out there who don’t really know how to talk “symbolic”, here’s where it gets a little tricky. To most guys, maroon is always going to be red, and blue is not translated as soothing – it is just blue. So if you ever gave a gift and your girlfriend said something like “Oh, that’s my favourite colour!!” and your response was something like “Oh … I knew that.. It’s why I picked this colour…”, then I am talking to you.
Ironically, most girls prefer a symbolic gift that resembles the occasion or the reason on any level. The tricky part about picking that kind of gift is that it requires the ability to see connections. One of the classic symbolic gifts for anniversaries and Valentine’s Day is a watch, a symbol of time and hope of spending even more time together. What makes it classic and maybe even a cliché is the fact that it is easy to make the connection between a watch and time. So the more profound the connection is to the gift, the more it becomes special and the more it is appreciated. For example, if your partner recently started a new job then a set of fancy office stationary can become a symbol of support.
On my girlfriend’s birthday, I didn’t really have much money and I wanted to buy her a gift that she would appreciate. Since she is a Christian and very spiritual, I thought maybe a gift that symbolises spiritual or religious beliefs would be a good gift. I noticed that she didn’t own a bible and when I asked her about it, she told me hers is at her parents’ house. I decided to buy her a new one, and she really appreciated it, even more so since I am a Muslim.
You can never go wrong with a symbolic gift because it is more like a physical manifestation of understanding and admiration.
Personally, I think that thoughtful gifts are one of the most challenging types of gifts to get right because of one reason – they can be literally ANYTHING. A thoughtful gift can be practical or symbolic, depending on how much thought has been put into it. But the way I see it, a gift is truly thoughtful if involves more planning and effort than just thinking and buying.
The difference between a practical gift and a thoughtful practical gift, for example, is that the fact that the latter might be a specific brand of an item in a specific store and not just a specific item. The difference between a symbolic gift and a thoughtful symbolic gift is that the latter is probably hand-made.
Thoughtful gifts are the jacks-of-all-trades in the gift arena, and the key to getting the perfect gift on special occasions like Valentine’s Day is to target a great thoughtful gift.
The best Valentine’s gift I have ever given was not in the gift itself but rather the thought and effort put into it. It was a treasure hunt around Kuala Lumpur, with places of significant sentimental values as destination. There were codes that had to be solved on each stop to give off a clue to the next destination, ending with the gift location. On one destination we had a nice dinner and on most others we just reminisced.
Presentation seals the deal
At the end of the day, if you have the perfect gift but you throw it in someone’s face and let it die, it is useless. Just like a nice suit is complimenting to a man rather than a jumpsuit, the proper presentation turns a great gift into an amazing one. A nice dinner, a pleasant conversation, or even a romantic chilled set-up at home is all you need to make the gift, and the entire day, an eternal memory rather than just another Valentine’s Day.
Happy V-day everyone!
—Photo Elin B/Flickr
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