Gift Giving: It’s The Thought That Counts! (well…umm…maybe)

We’ve all heard it before, especially at this time of the year.  When it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts.  But is that true?


We’ve all gotten that gift at some point where we open it and think “What the…?”

It’s the thought that counts if there is indeed thought- a good intention- behind it and if we have the ability to recognize the thought.  It comes from both sides.  Are we honestly putting thought into our gift giving? Are we accepting gifts with the intention in mind?

Are we good gift givers?

Some people are good at giving gifts.  Those people, more times than not, hit a sweet spot and manage to get the right gift for the right person.  Some people are not. Usually this is where the “Thought” part comes in.

Last minute can turn a gift into an afterthought. No one likes to be an afterthought. Click To Tweet
  • Pay attention to the recipient and their likes and dislikes.  Listen to what they like to do or want to do. Do they like practical gifts or something they normally wouldn’t get for themselves? Get to know them.
  • Make a note of it.  When we are inspired by a gift idea we can write it somewhere that we will be able to recall it again.  Maybe even put it in a calendar.
  • Make time to get the gift in advance.  Holidays, Birthdays, and other gift giving occasions are rarely surprises so we don’t really have an excuse to wait until the last minute.  Last minute has the potential to turn any thought we may have put into the potential gift into a panic buy and an afterthought gift.  No one wants to be an afterthought.
  • Presentation counts too!  Wrap the gift in recycled paper or newspaper if the receiver is ‘green’.  If the gift is for that person appreciates a little indulgence, spend a little extra time and give it a special bit of pizzazz. Are they a prankster?  Wrap a gift in a box inside of a box inside of another box. It’s a little something extra that shows you are paying attention.
  • Are we giving out of affection or out of obligation?  Obligatory gifts usually miss the mark. Maybe we need to reevaluate the list.

Are we good gift receivers?

Even if we don’t like our gift? This is where more “Thought” comes in. Are we gracious in our receiving?  Are we examining the thought behind what was given to us?

  • Are we doing the math?  Don’t think someone spent enough?  Maybe we should consider the actual gift and perhaps take in to consideration that someone may not have the financial ability to do better than that.
  • Maybe they just missed the mark a little.  If we like cooking and they bought a ridiculous ‘as seen on tv’ tool instead of something more in tune with our interest level they should at least get credit for knowing how much we like to cook.
  • Did we receive the same item as everyone in the family and don’t know why?  Take in to consideration that the giver may have been afraid of ‘playing favorites’ (and isn’t that a dilemma in most families?).  No, it’s not the best tactic in gifting but have some empathy for their fear (which was likely created by members whining about favoritism).
  • Do we show appreciation even if we know that there wasn’t much thought in your gift at all? Even in the tiniest way, we were still thought of.
  • Before we judge anyone else’s ability to gift have we evaluated our own skills? Let’s be the gifters we would want to have!

Have you ever goofed up gift giving?

I have been told by my kids (they are tough critics) that I am a good gift giver.  It makes me a happy woman when I get just the right gift for just the right person.

There have been times when I have missed the mark because of something I did.  I over estimated what something meant to someone or I misinterpreted what they might enjoy.

There have also been times where I missed the mark because the receiver was just a jerk.  Like the time I bought something for part of a collection and they felt I should have spent more money.  Or the time they announced that someone had already gave them a better version of what I had gotten them.

Both of those scenarios make me feel equally sad.

So is it the thought that counts? I guess that depends on the thought.

Do you have any tips on what additional thoughts should be put into gift giving or receiving?


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