Gifting is an art, and not everyone is an expert at it. And with the pandemic having done its part in reminding us of our mortality, sustainable and meaningful gifts and exchanges are thankfully back in fashion.
We speak to industry experts on how to think beyond the “mithai and namkeen ka dabba” this festive season, so you can give something meaningful and mindful to your family and friends. And all that without burning a hole in your pocket!
The whole essence of festive gifting is to express a heartfelt gesture and gratitude that leaves a lasting impression. Qismat Zaidi, an image and branding expert, says she always believes in adding a personal touch to all her gifts. “It could be a hand-written note, which is much more meaningful, while keeping in mind the interests of your loved ones,” she says.
As for choosing a good gift, she shares some simple tips. “Ask yourself these 4 things before you put together a gift: Who the gift is for? How does the gift reflect your relationship and values? What is your budget? Is there an experience that the recipient would appreciate other than the actual present?” says Qismat.
“It’s important to identify what the recipient’s interests and values are to help you pick out the ideal gift for the person. For most people, receiving a perfectly wrapped present wouldn’t hold nearly as much meaning as offering to cook for somebody. Even helping them plan a party or a day out to pamper themselves would just make them appreciative.”
The right etiquette
It is important to know the gifting etiquette. It’ll help you give the right gift in the right way at the right time. In fact, try to avoid spending so much that it makes a statement about your wealth or generosity.
For those with tight finances, Zorawar Mann Singh, director of F&B at Le Meridien Gurgaon recommends a DIY gift or experiential gifting. “One can curate a whole experience and give the joy of relaxation and tranquillity by planning a spa-cation or stay-cation for close family members or friends,” says Zorawar. “Arranging a special dinner with a cooking class or with a celebrity chef can also be an option.”
As for the etiquette of gifting, Zorawar shares a tip. “Don’t make it about you; it’s about the recipient,” he says. “Also, not all cultures celebrate the holiday season in the same manner, so ensure you understand the traditions and norms of anyone you plan to gift something to so that you don’t offend or embarrass their sensibilities. Instead, go for something that is meaningful and memorable, and not materialistic.”
Zorawar points out some interesting and meaningful options one can choose from. “Sustainable gifting options to wellness therapies, office stationery, handmade torans and diyas by NGOs,” he adds.
Traditional with a twist
A thoughtful gift conveys a feeling of affection. In Indian culture, mithai and namkeen gifts are the conventional way of gifting as it revolves around the tradition of “Muh Meetha Karo [Sweeten your palate]” on festive and special occasions.
However, Sumit Gaddi, founder of the Occasionally Silly gifting platform, says he’s been witnessing a shift towards more meaningful substitutes. “While choosing a gift for someone, keep in mind their interests, your relationship with the person and the occasion for gifting,” Sumit says.
“The past couple of years have been tough on people’s mental well-being, so a practical and useful gift would be a good option. For example, a nice gifting option for someone who recently developed an interest in cooking could be a set of kitchen essentials and cooking equipment. For those attending a card party, a hamper with a bottle of wine, bar accessories and playing cards would be apt.”
Sumit also points out that one can curate personal gifts to suit one’s budget while thinking of the present’s functionality for the recipient.
Outside personal spheres, young professionals especially are moving towards a more thoughtful gifting culture this year. Personalised memorabilia and nostalgic gifts like coffee mugs, bag tags, premium photo frames and canvas prints with pictures of the family, friends or colleagues are some bestsellers for festive occasions this year.
Sachin Katira, CEO at a gifting website Zoomin, suggests that one can customise and order online gifts starting at `149 while making it a memorable gift for the recipient. “Companies also are customising gifts using their brand logos on such items. With the calendar season right around the corner, gifting associates a personalised calendar with brand recall is also a good option.”