Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Choosing gifts is an art

KParthasarathi Wednesday, November 28, 2007
My niece got married recently. When I went to my sister Lekha’s place a few days after the wedding, I found her and her daughters sitting amongst the heap of gift parcels with many of them remaining unopened. I saw on the table about a dozen table lamps of different designs with some of them identical in make except for the colour.There were wall clocks in plenty, framed pictures of gods and goddesses in silver, coffee cups in silver, china, silk saris, trinkets, marriage manuals and books on Bhagwad Gita and many more. They were still busy opening the wrapped packets. When my sister saw me, she said “Raju, tell me what do we do with so many clocks, table lamps, crockery? Saris are ok in a way although Shreya will find very limited use for saris in US. Frankly I am at my wits end as to where I can store all these in my congested flat.” I asked”Lekha, I hope you are keeping the bills or receipts carefully with the respective articles. While you cannot get cash as in US for the items returned, you can at least exchange them for something useful. You can get rid of some useless items at least.”
“What are you talking Raju? Who keeps the receipts theses days in the gift packets. In fact they tear off the price slips or stickers to keep the value of presents from being known. Where the stickers are difficult to be removed they erase the price by using permanent marker pens. Who cares whether you have got the same items from many? Forget it, these have to be disposed off over a long period of time as gifts to others when we are invited.”
I remember my daughter always buys gift cards or vouchers from Sears, Kohls, JCPenny, Target or Wal-Mart wherever she is not certain what they would like or where the things she finds decent are above the amount she had envisaged. The great advantage in this practice is the giftees can choose what they want and can even put some more money if necessary. The gift cards are given by shops with attractive envelopes. There is a great demand for such cards and people prefer these cards to gifts in kind. They can have long validity period say six months.
This concept has not taken off widely here though Landmark, Crossroads, West side, Pantaloon, Globus, Lifestyle issue gift vouchers starting from Rs.100 onwards. The middle class still have not come out of the traditional habit of gifting (mostly unwanted) silver, steel and trinkets. Just imagine the kind and volume of useless purchases made during Diwali time that are sheer waste of money. It is high time that branded stores, big hotels, beauty salons, boutiques and reputed shops sells this idea by offering some discounts initially like a Rs.500 card for Rs.475.It will soon catch up. The smaller stores, sweet marts, departmental chains, cloth shops should use this idea as the middle class and lower middle class people do not visit the high style and expensive places. Till such time, people should invariably put the receipts without removing the labels and packaging in the gift parcels. All are shrewd to know the value of an item gifted and removing the price tag doesn’t deceive anyone.
There is one more thing. There should be some effort to know what the person who receives the gift would like. There is little point in presenting books to someone who is not given to intellectual pursuits or giving music albums to one who has no ear for music. The nature of gift would instantly reveal how much you have known the person. I still remember how unwittingly I gave a very costly perfume to a boss of mine little realizing he was allergic to strong smells or the gaffe made in gifting a sleeveless silk suit to a prim lady colleague on her wedding day who always came in sari to office. Choosing right and appropriate gifts is an art. People who receive gifts always notice and appreciate them when they realize you have taken the time and effort to choose what they like best. It will show them how much close you are to them. The moral is that one should not be cavalier while choosing a gift as a wrong gift may be counter productive and take away the goodwill and esteem.

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