How to Give Mindfully and Thoughtfully This Year

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Think about the best gift you’ve ever received. It probably wasn’t necessarily the most expensive or the most extravagant. Rather, it was a well thought out gift that you were not expecting. The importance of gift giving is becoming more prevalent. We now seek to give with purpose, rather than something with flash and a pricey price tag.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that that gift recipients are more appreciative of gifts they ask for than those they do not. A long, expected wait is also sometimes the most rewarding aspect of gift giving. It allows the gift giver to thoroughly choose a meaningful gift (and give them something they’re expecting).

"The most important thing in the exchanging of gifts is it shows that you really know the person well, and you really care about them," said Ryan Howell, a psychologist at San Francisco State University and co-founder of beyondthepurchase.org.

Consider This When Giving Mindfully:

  • Try and create creative experiences: feel connected to the gift giver. People are hesitant to give gifts to the giver they are not close to. It presents a challenge as the gift giver is often unsure of what the recipient enjoys. That’s often when the gift becomes less thoughtful - “The strange thing is that this breakdown between givers and receivers happens all the time, even though most people have been both givers and receivers often in the past, and therefore they should have some understanding of the other party’s perspective,” observes Flynn, the Paul E. Holden Professor of Organizational Behavior. He coauthored the study with Francesca Gino, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.

  • "If gifts are about expressing and forging love, one of the best ways to do that is with your own time," Pugh said. "That will always be a really powerful gift." Give the gift of love this season. Choose gifts that are backed with emotion (however small that might be).

  • Focus on how the recipient will use the gift versus the cost of the gift. The how is often more important than the what.

  • Donate in their name. Find a cause that interests the recipient and give the gift of donating in their name. Find a clever and authentic way to present the donation to the recipient. The reveal will be just as meaningful!

Lastly, this year, consider giving the gift of mindfulness. If you find yourself rushing to find last minute gifts, take a moment to slow down and choose mindfully, even if that means the gift is a little late this year. It will be more impactful if the gift is chosen with clarity and precision.

Kristina Caputi