The countdown to Christmas begins. Excitement is in the air as we get ready to celebrate feasts and fun with family and friends. The tree is decorated, fairy lights shine through the streets, shopping lists are made and gift guides fill our inboxes!
Every year, we carefully choose and offer gifts to our loved ones. The gift we choose and how we present it says so much about us and our relationships. Taking some time to get to know what you value will help you get the most out of gift-giving.
Whether you have planned ahead of the Christmas rush or left it to the last minute, we invite you to take a moment and remember what matters the most to you during the festive season. There is no right or wrong answer; this isn't about being on the naughty or nice list. It is a chance to reflect and take yourself out of autopilot for a more mindful experience. When we give gifts mindfully, we give from the heart. We think about what is meaningful for the receiver of the gift, how we want them to feel, and the reasons why we are giving them a gift. Gift giving is an act of love.
The art of giving
The art of giving is simply defined as giving from the heart without any expectation of something in return. What you give out, you get back in the same form. When you give without any desire of getting something back, your returns will be limitless. To give something from the heart is an action that will fill your life with joy. As the saying goes, ‘it's better to give than to receive.’
Why do we give?
Any gift or act of kindness originates with a thought to make another human feel happy. It truly may be the thought that counts but have you ever thought about why we give?
Giving gifts is a tale as old as time and goes beyond the three wise men in a manger. Research shows that we get mental and physical benefits from sharing with others and that is an aspect of human behaviour. There is evidence that, during gift-giving, our brains secrete chemicals, such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a feel-good chemical), and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical). Social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn, in her ground-breaking work on generosity and joy, found that in experiment after experiment, people young and old found joy from giving to others. But there's a catch: It matters how you do it. You have to understand the impact of your gift for it to spark those warm and fuzzy feelings. To learn more about how giving makes us happier, watch Elizabeth's Ted Talk video below:
How to give the perfect gift
We give because we care yet our perception of gifts is shaped by the intent behind them. Ask yourself, what are you trying to convey with the gift? Are you just trying to check someone off the list or are you trying to show the person that you care about them? If you want to show you care, you have to consider how someone will receive the gift and how will they use it.
Does the gift match their personality? Will it bring them joy or will it satisfy a need? To put it very simply: get something that your receiver would enjoy. That might seem obvious, but it happens far less than you think. There is an identified behaviour among social psychologists called the 'false consensus effect', where we think that our beliefs and preferences are the same as others, so we get gifts that we think others will like, just because we like them ourselves.
The intention should always be to create happiness for both the giver and the receiver. A gift, no matter how small or large, is something that is enjoyed twice. First by the giver and then also enjoyed by the person who receives the gift.
Luckily in our modern world, we have an endless supply of creative gifts to suit all types of people. Whatever their hobbies, be it sports, home interiors, crafts, cooking, fashion, or wellness, there’s something for everybody. Take the stress out of choosing what gift to get with a set or hamper. They make a perfect present as it gives the receiver a range of different products. For more ideas, check out VOYA’s Tides of Joy Christmas Collection for environmentally conscious sets from the sea. Choose from a variety of rich natural home fragrances, cleansing, and organic spa facials, sleep wellness sets to nourishing organic body rituals. The sets are packaged in eco-friendly bags made from ocean waste material, and reusable and sustainable tin boxes, made to be up-cycled.
The art of receiving
Balance is important, and the same goes when giving and receiving. Do not confuse receiving with “taking.” Receiving is the opposite of a selfish act. It shows that you have acknowledged the time and effort the other person has put into it. The simple expression of gratitude is one of the ways that we give back to the giver. When you express your appreciation and respond graciously to receiving gifts, it strengthens your relationship bonds. You create a two-way street, giving sometimes and receiving at other times. This holiday season, give from the heart and receive from the people who give to you. Enjoy their presence as much as the present, cherish the magic of the moment and most of all, respond with a sincere ‘thank you!’