When giving gifts for any occasion, it’s the thought that counts. Being a thoughtful gift giver means we have taken the time to carefully think about the gift recipient’s personal interests, needs, wants, likes and dislikes, in order to find an appropriate gift to give from the heart.
Being thoughtful is defined by personal qualities like being kind, giving, considerate, attentive, appreciative, helpful, caring, loving, and giving mindful thought towards the comfort and good of others. Kids learn the thought counts very early in life, and teachers appreciate thoughtful gifts from schoolchildren, so why are thoughtful gifts given such a bad rap?
“You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it’s a little thing, do something for others – something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.” – Albert Schweitzer
It’s The Thought That Counts
There are many ways to be thoughtful and kind in our daily lives that have nothing to do with giving gifts to others for birthdays, Christmas, Hannukah, other holidays and special occasions. I personally enjoy sending special cards to people I love and care about, perhaps a “just because” or “thinking of you” card, always remembering to send Christmas, birthday or anniversary cards to those on our list.
Why send cards? Because I can and want to, and because it’s just one more way for me to show loved ones they are being thought of and cared for throughout the year. Being thoughtful and giving towards others does not only include close friends and family, but also our neighbors and complete strangers we’ve never met before, perhaps while performing random acts of kindness from a caring, giving, charitable heart.
Thoughtful gifts do not have to be expensive and gifts do not have to be for any specific occasion. Well thought out gifts show a person you’ve been thinking about them, how well you know them and want to buy a gift for them that they will like and genuinely appreciate, even if it’s a cheap gift.
When we think of others and kindly put them ahead of ourselves, we reduce our thoughts about ourselves and our own ego, especially if the giving act is done without expectations. When we accept gifts with genuine gratitude, regardless of whether we like the gift or not, we reduce thoughts about ourselves and our ego. This is a spiritual benefit of giving and receiving.
Whose thought counts? The quote “it’s the thought that counts” expresses the thought process and good heart condition of a thoughtful gift giver, but not necessarily that of the gift recipient. The idiom that acknowledges thoughtfulness and kindness on the part of a gift giver is far too often given a negative connotation.
“People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind. Think big anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People really need help but may attack if you help them. Help people anyway. Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.” – Dr. Kent M. Keith (The Paradoxical Commandments)
Practical or “safe” gifts can be misinterpreted as a sign of not caring about the person being gifted, or wrongly interpreted as being given purely out of obligation, rather than a desire to give nice gifts. Intentions are sometimes questioned, false assumptions and judgments are made as to why the gift is being given at all.
The Art of Receiving – Gift Etiquette
Receiving gifts properly in an art form, and it is a joy for people to give freely to others, but many are not comfortable with the etiquette for receiving a gift. There is an art to receiving gifts, compliments or money, and while most of us give quite easily, some feel especially uncomfortable or unworthy of receiving gifts. The psychology and science behind “it’s the thought that counts” and the art of receiving is discussed by Ode Magazine, explaining how receiving may be harder than giving for various reasons, but can lead to even greater personal and spiritual growth.
The receiver of gifts should always remember that an effort was made, no matter how big or small. It is good etiquette and good manners to accept a gift graciously and to say thank you. To choose the perfect gift that a gift receiver will enjoy and will be happy to receive, we have to tune into that person, carefully listen to what they have to say, and take notice of what they need or want for Christmas gifts or birthdays that are within the budget.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
Inconsiderate, negative attitudes on the part of a gift recipient might be expressed with words or implication that mean the gift(s) received “wasn’t at all what the person wanted from you; it’s cheap but okay and will do just fine; at least you tried; it’s better than nothing; the thought is appreciated but……”
Such negative responses are a clear sign of an unappreciative, inconsiderate person, who does not understand or care about the real meaning of it’s the thought that counts and what being a thoughtful, gracious receiver of gifts is all about. Be positive and giving towards others anyway, give from the heart and make it personal.
When receiving a gift, always say a heartfelt, sincere Thank You for the gift received. It doesn’t matter how large or small a gift is, how little a gift may cost; what is important is the feeling or thoughtfulness that the giver is expressing with his or her gift.
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” – Mother Teresa
If someone buys a gift for you that you don’t like, but they did it out of love, that should still be acknowledged. No one should judge a gift based on the assumed value of the item or how much a gift costs, but appreciate the gift given that has thought and feeling behind it. If you’re given an inexpensive gift that someone put a lot of time, thought and work into, you should be just as appreciative as if the person gave you an expensive diamond ring.
“Giving whether it be of time, labor, affection, advice, gifts, or whatever, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.” – Rebecca Russell
With a little creativity and planning, coming up with ideas on how to be thoughtful about gift-giving and finding meaningful gifts for Christmas, birthdays or any occasion becomes easier. The best presents are always the ones that directly think of the recipient, heartfelt and genuine gift giving. That’s the real meaning behind it’s the thought that counts and what matters most.