I was curious about this one, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching (seriously, I saw Easter candy out at the grocery stores!), I figured it was somewhat appropriate. This can really be applied to any relationship, though.
Random gift giving is not something I have any experience with. In my past and current relationships, I’ve enjoyed spending time with the person way more than receiving a random gift. Since hearing stories of how my co-worker’s boyfriend has come home with flowers, chocolate or sparkly things, I can’t help but wonder if I would really enjoy it.
It seems like a nice gesture, but if I’m being honest, I would rather come home to all the dishes being clean, dinner made, and having my significant other just telling me how much he appreciates me. I don’t need to receive presents in order for that point to come across.
The cons of random gift giving
- It can turn into a competition. My co-worker was saying the other day that she had to get flowers for her boyfriend’s birthday since he got her a bouquet for hers. I don’t believe in one-upping in the gift giving arena.
- You might feel obligated to return the favor. Random gifts should be given because you feel like cheering someone up, or you found something you knew they would absolutely love. Personally, when someone gives me a present, I feel pressured to give something back. I love baking and cooking for R and he appreciates it, and I appreciates it when he cleans up my mess! It works for us.
- Money! Obviously, buying presents = spending money in most cases. If you start the cycle, when will it stop? I know there are couples out there that celebrate everything as an excuse to buy things for each other. We all read the statistics of how much people spend on Valentine’s Day, and it can be costly.
- Guilt. This doesn’t even need to pertain to couples. My grandma happens to have a really nice couple that lives next door to her, and even though she has told them to not give her anything since the first gift, they haven’t stopped. She received a nice gift basket for Christmas and felt bad as she had only given them baked goods. I hate to be a “grinch,” but I don’t like it when someone unexpectedly gives me something, either. If I wasn’t intending on buying anything for anyone at work, and my co-worker gives me something, I tend to feel bad. It’s easier when you know people don’t expect something in return.
- Pressure. I’m going to be honest again here and say I’m very difficult to shop for. R knows this, and this is probably the number one reason he doesn’t surprise me with anything. He admitted that he was afraid of buying me something I wouldn’t like during our first Christmas together, and I know it’s a legitimate fear. Of course, you don’t want to be wasting your money on things someone won’t appreciate.
The pro’s of random gift giving
In the interest of presenting both sides, here’s a few reasons why I think random gift giving might be appropriate.
- In moderation. As long as it’s truly random and not a weekly occurrence (more like a handful of times a year), I think it’s okay. There’s a lot of reasons for this, one being that it’s really not random if you can come to expect something every week or month, and also because of the potential for clutter.
- Circumstance. When I was a receptionist, one of my bosses had me purchase flowers to be delivered to his girlfriend. She was having a rough day and he included a little pick-me-up note with the flowers. I thought it was a really sweet idea. If someone you know is going through a tough time, give them something that will put a smile on their face.
- Collections. There are a few people I know who collect certain things (mostly figurines). My grandma, for example, loves angel and elephant figurines. If I happened to stumble upon either for a reasonable price, I’d probably get it for her. In this case, the person will likely be happy to add to their collection and it wouldn’t be a waste.
- If someone really wants something. If I knew R was really longing for a certain item, but couldn’t bring himself to buy it, I might decide to do so. This doesn’t really happen often at all (I’m more likely to withhold from a purchase), but I think it could be a nice gesture if the item is really important to them. My mom has been wanting a Keurig machine ever since she moved, but hasn’t given in to buying one yet. I’ve been contemplating getting it for her, but it is a bigger ticket item and my dad doesn’t see a reason to get one, so I’m waiting to see if she will change her mind.
Which side do you lean toward?
This is all really based on personal preference and the relationship dynamics you have with others. I’ve seen my friends go out of their way to get presents for each other at times, mostly due to the excitement of knowing that person would love the present. Most of them are comic book fans and have favorite characters, so it’s a bit easier.
I’ve read that there are “five languages of love“, and I am definitely more of a quality time person. I love to cuddle and lean toward random acts of kindness (surprising R with a cheesecake) as I think it yields more happiness. However, R and I are just not gift people. R doesn’t even think cards are important. He knows that what makes me happy is making my life easier =).
That said, I do think there’s a time and place for surprising people with gifts. I know I’d be thrilled if someone decided to buy me a laptop (totally not happening). Maybe I am just jaded because I tend to be horrible at surprise gifts. I’d much rather be told what the person wants.
What do you think? Do you enjoy surprising people with presents? Do you like being on the receiving end? Or would you rather express appreciation in a different way?