Planning Your 2014 Christmas
Christmas is coming! Do you understand the unwritten rules of gift-giving?
Each people carries within ourselves a set of rules about edible gifts, gift boxes and gift-giving. Seldom acknowledged and rarely discussed, these rules determine what we type appropriate to get well soon gift and online gifts we give, how much we give, and to whom we give.
Despite living only in our expectations and minds, the unwritten rules of sending a fruit basket govern everything from the office Secret Santa exchange to the family's morning sharing wine country gift baskets under the Christmas tree.
Problem is, "unwritten" means that gourmet hamper gift-giving rules undergo interpretation both in our own minds, and in our dealings with others. Even in a single family, it's common to find members with radically different ideas when it relates to "the rules" of gift-giving for sympathy and bereavement occasions.
Why is it so important to get a grip on the rules behind sending a fruit hamper before we make our Christmas gifts list?
First, if you don't understand why you use online gifts, it's easy to enter the land of the absurd: making a midnight raid on the supermarket's presents aisle when you discover that one child's stocking holds fewer gifts baskets than his brother's.
Second, following one version of the unwritten rules can lead to conflict with loved ones, who may hold a different view. Scratch the surface of gift-giving disagreements, and you're likely to find a rules conflict. Some one loves a fruit basket while others love a funeral hamper.
Young adults take on debt to give their own parents a fruit arrangement gift the empty nesters neither use nor need. A determined crafter feels let down when a handmade artisan gift the product of hours of work-- is unwrapped to a lukewarm response from the recipient. None of the parties can address the real conflict unless they understand the source: a failure to share the same assumptions about the act of giving an online gift.
The place to start? By understanding your own set of gift basket rules. Bringing "the rules" into focus is the primary step to bringing sanity and simplicity back to the season and being clear about your own underlying delivered gift assumptions can ease conflicts with others.
How do you and your family interpret the following fruit hamper rules? There are no right or wrong answers:.
Get a gift, give a gift: gourmet hamper exchanges must be reciprocal.
Even-Steven: gift basket exchanges must be of equal value.
Once begun, never undone: gift exchanges, once established, must not change.
Come one, come all: gift exchanges must extend to every member of a relationship category.
Get a gift basket, give a gift hamper.
It's a few days before Christmas, and the doorbell rings. A neighbor appears, offering a pretty gourmet gift basket of quick breads. You thank her, and graciously but your heart sinks because you haven't prepared gifts for the neighbors this year, much less baked goods.
Gotcha! You've just been tripped by reciprocity: the belief that for each gift received, one must be given.
As a general rule, reciprocity has an even-handed fairness to it, but applied to cases, it can be overbearing. A knee-jerk "like for like" exchange doesn't account for differences in resources, intent or ability.
Know where your comfort limits lie on the issue of reciprocity, and prepare accordingly. If you're a fervent believer in the principle, reserved a few "just in case" generic gourmet gift boxes before the season to be ready for the inevitable surprise presents.
If you're more relaxed about the issue, focus on your response, not reciprocity; it's likely to be the payback the giver will value most. Your neighbor will leave your home glowing when you clap your hands, damn your diet and insist on sampling the breads right then and there, along with a cup of tea and a good chat.
You're a veteran online shopper of affordable get well soon gifts, and this year, you scored the perfect anniversary present for your discerning sister: a luxurious natural organic wicker basket marked down to a bargain price. Wrapping the authentic basket for the family gift box, you pause. Laid out next to the gift delivery address you're giving your brother, the get well soon inequity strikes youÃ¢ even though you paid the same amount for each gift.
What do you do? Add a gift basket to your brother's gift hamper? Set the traditional basket aside for Sis's birthday to avoid a comparison? Give the get well gifts as they are? Welcome to the slippery world of Even-Steven!
The idea that Christmas gift exchanges must be of equal value is confused and fraught with danger.
If your version of the rule declares that edible gifts must be of equal value, how do you decide what "value" is? Full retail price or the actual amount spent? For genuine homemade gifts, do you consider cost of materials or the time spent to create your own?
More important, how will you assess your end of the exchange? Will you be disappointed if your sister's sharing gift to you is more modest, less "valuable" than that perfect gourmet hamper?
Be aware: Even-Steven calculations can be a flashpoint for seasonal gifts, especially if there are status or financial differences between people in the exchange.
An affluent auntie can cause resentment with lavish fruit gift baskets to her nephews, if the children's parents can't afford to match or reciprocate her largesse. A well-meaning boss can ruin office morale if she chooses an inappropriate employee gift hamper: a $25 gift certificate to her favorite boutique, where even the toilet water starts at $40. A loved one who plays by the law of averages ("I gave a luxury gift hamper in 2013, so will scale back this year!") can bump up against a loved one's preferences for year-by-year equality, to hurt feelings all round.
When giving a fruit basket, think carefully about how you assess value. Embracing a more flexible measuring stick is a powerful holiday stress-buster, even when other parties to the exchange may not hold the same view. Divorcing considerations of what you paid, what else you gave, and what you got in return allows you to reach for the true values of connection and gratitude that, ideally, underlie the practice of giving fruit gifts.
Once begun, never undone.
It was a nice idea, that first year after you moved across the country: sending gift baskets of local gourmet foods to the folks in your old neighborhood. The second year, they sent you a box of your favorite sweets. Five years later, the packages are still jetting from coast to coast. What will you send this year?
Examine where you stand on the notion of longevity in gift exchanges. If you feel that once begun, gift giving exchanges should continue from year to year, think carefully about beginning new ones. Since you value the continuity that the ongoing exchange provides, make certain that the online gifts celebrate your deepest relationships and the other party shares your view.
Send the neighbors a lovely card this year and breathe easier if you're more comfortable with a dynamic view of exchange longevity. Chances are, they'll be relieved that you've called a halt to an exchange whose time has come ... and gone.
Come one, come all.
Who is included on your gourmet gift hamper list? If you give a gift to one member of a group family, friends, co-workers do you believe you must you give equal gifts to all?
For instance, Australian Christmas Hampers at the in-laws' house is rich in tradition. There's oyster stew on Christmas Eve, plum pudding for dessert and a Christmas morning gift hamper exchange among all five children. And their spouses. And their children.
Coming up with more than 20 unique gifts each year wracks your brain and wrecks your budget. That towering annual pile of fruit basket presents?
Family tree and tradition will play a part in where you fall on the equality spectrum, and there are no right answers.
For many, the act of giving one-to-one is central to their expression of the holidays. If scaling back the amount of fruit basket gifts or giving selectively feels wrong, consider setting cost limits to reduce the burden of celebrating all those relationships.
Others find that downsizing group gifts by drawing names, white elephant exchanges or an informal "no gifts" agreement enhances their holiday and reduces seasonal stress.
For them, the trick is to negotiate the change in a loving way, and to understand that others may feel more committed to individual get well soon gifting than they do.
Knowledge is power.
When it relates to the customs of gift-giving, there is only one right answer: the one that is right for you! By taking a long, hard assess the beliefs that underlie your giving decisions, you empower yourself to give consciously, attuned to your personal values. By knowing where you stand on these issues, you'll be able to address any conflicts with others in a loving, measured way. When it comes to sharing fruit baskets, and make the right decision.
Unwritten or otherwise, there are rules to giving and receiving gourmet gifts. Know where you stand ... to simplify your holidays and celebrate the Christmas season!