Valentine’s day is tomorrow. Of course you knew that, since it’s been promoted in every store you’ve visited since about 12:01 AM on December 26th. Depending on who you are you’ve already bought a gift for someone, don’t plan to buy a gift for someone, or were just reminded (by that first sentence) that you need to buy a gift for someone. If you’re in the third camp, hang out for five minutes and read this post – it might help you with a gift idea!
The “official” minimalist position seems to be “give experience gifts”. By “experience gifts” of course we’re talking about dinner at a restaurant, tickets to a good movie, play, or concert, a gift certificate to a spa of some sort, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.
That being said, gifts also need to be responsive to the other person’s desires. If somebody hates movies, plays, concerts, and getting their hair done, a box of their favorite chocolate may not be an experience – but it will give them more happiness than the alternatives.
If we want to give truly great gifts though, there’s only one thing we really need to know:
The gift needs to create a memory.
That’s it. That’s the sum total of great gift giving. If you give your wife a teddy bear for Valentine’s Day, odds are it’ll be forgotten. If you dress up as a teddy bear and sing her Elvis songs (including, obviously, “Teddy Bear”), the odds of her forgetting that anytime soon will be relatively minimal. That is, unless you do that sort of thing all the time – in which case maybe a box of chocolates would be a welcome surprise!
All kidding aside, think about the holidays, birthdays, and other occasions that you really remember. Why do you remember them? In almost every case, I’m betting you can identify something unique or different about that event that triggers your memory.
I have two stories to illustrate – one positive, one negative.
On the negative side, when I was thirteen, sometime around Valentine’s Day, I forgot my girlfriend’s name. No, I’m not kidding, and yes, I remember the building I was in, why we were there, where I was standing, and the name of the other person involved in the conversation. I also remember attempting to surreptitiously get that other person to address my girlfriend by name. They did, and I was rescued.
On the positive side, we have a story about flowers. I don’t like giving flowers, because they’re very expensive, and they don’t last very long. When my wife and I were dating, she’d told me that her favorite flower was the calla lily. I was reading a local email list one day, and a lady had calla lilies for sale. Fake calla lilies, to be exact – the kind they sell at craft stores. She had dozens of them, and she wanted them out of her house.
So I presented my wife with a huge bouquet of 30+ fake calla lilies. She thought it was awesome, and we still have some of them decorating the living room today.
One Common Theme
I didn’t particularly enjoy forgetting my girlfriend’s name. The calla lily thing was awesome. But positive or negative, they have a common thread – they each have an element where something out of the ordinary happened.
That’s what we’re trying to create when we give a gift – an experience that the other person remembers. We’re obviously aiming more for “calla lily” than “forgetting your girlfriend’s name”, but even the bad experiences usually make funny stories a couple years after the fact.
That memory, that story, that’s what great gift giving is all about.
Care To Share?
In keeping with the story theme, I’d love to hear some of your stories. Valentine’s Day stories would be most appropriate, but any are welcome. Leave one or two in the comments!
I'd also really appreciate it if you'd share this post with your friends: