Stop making rules for gift giving at celebrations.

It seems to me that it is becoming increasingly popular for people to construct “guidelines” around gifts that either they, or their children, are being given. It is not uncommon for a bride or a groom to make a gift registry, or to ask the guests for a small (define small) monetary gifts instead. Recently, though, things seem to be getting extremely a little out of hand.

A couple of weeks ago Shauna Anderson wrote about a mother who felt she was ‘ripped off’ because siblings bring one present to her only child’s birthday party instead of two, when she has to buy a gift for both siblings. Please get over yourself. The act of giving a gift is meant to be one of beauty and sincerity, rooted with kindness and showered with generosity. I’m not saying that gifts aren’t great, we all love a good pressie. What I’m saying is that their sentiment is ruined the moment we politicise the act of gift-giving.

"The act of giving a gift is meant to be one of beauty and sincerity, rooted with kindness and showered with generosity." Image via HBO.

A few months ago my boyfriend bought me a clock for our one year anniversary. Yes, you heard that correctly, a clock. And yes, you’re right, it was ugly and totally not my style, but that was beside the point. I loved it because in the card he wrote ‘I’ve been with you a long TIME!’. The moment I read it I laughed and dismissed any feelings of disappointment confusion about why he’d bought me a clock at the door. What started out as a gift so bad (comparable to the knitted coat-hangers from nan at Christmas 2010), became an incredibly thoughtful token that I now smile at. He completely sidestepped the traditional ‘girlfriend’ gifts and I was over-the-moon flattered by it.

We asked 10 women: What was the last text you sent your partner?

Last week I celebrated my 21st birthday and I decided this year, being an adult and all, I would make a point to really read and appreciate the cards. I found the messages of love and kindness incredibly thoughtful. While I loved the gifts (who am I kidding, who doesn’t love a good pressie?) it was the words on these cards that I thought about as I went to sleep.

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We live in a world where everyone is wondering why we are So. Damn. Angry. We read self-help books on being present (excuse the pun), turn Vegan for the environment and strive to be better and happier people.

If we set aside the politics and rules that we have created around gifts, and focus on the good old meaning behind them, we will be a lot better off for it. We will be happier. More generous. People who know how to give.

It really is the thought that counts.

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