Gift giving is an innate gesture that all creatures of higher cognition share.
For example, children, when they are very young, will start bringing you their favorite toys. They will share the foods they love with you. These gifts come purely from their hearts as a way to express their appreciation for the quality of their life.
Animals will do something similar. Crows will bring you shiny objects if you feed them. House cats will leave dead birds and frogs at your door as tributes. I once had a dog bring me a random deer leg that he found lying on the side of the road.
Humans have been sacrificing their best crops as offerings to deities since the dawn of civilization, because upholding their relationship with their gods was the most valuable thing they could do for their people.
Conscious gift giving is one of my core values. My ability to hone in on what people need and manifest that through valuable gifts has been key to my success.
I started connecting the dots between the intention of the giver and the effect of the gift as a child of divorce who moved between two households. At Christmastime my dad would fill our stockings to the brim. On Christmas morning, we found candies that we would never eat and toys we would never play with. While he attempted to win our hearts with quantity, my brother and I felt a lack of quality in the relationship we shared with our dad.
These obligatory gifts damaged an already fragile relationship. What mattered most to us was a sense that our dad cherished us and that we belonged together. A better gift would have been a day trip to the zoo, or even taking a day off from work when we’d come visit him during the summer. He didn’t know better, but now I do.
When I’m choosing a gift for my daughter, I’m always thinking about a balance of material things and quality time. I want her to value the latter over the former, but I recognize that a 9-year old needs a delightful surprise once in a while. Mostly I give her things like arts and crafts items she can use on projects that we work on together. And of course we both enjoy reading new books.
One of the most impactful and connected actions we take in our lives is donating money to a worthy cause. Donating can also be an expression of personal success, and the desire to share our success with others.
This is because we feel inherently empowered by gift giving. We feel purpose driven in our sense of generosity. Conscious gift giving is actually giving to the relationship itself, because we value the connection.
When I started my company Coolperx, I knew exactly what our three core values would be: environmental sustainability, ethical business practices, and covetable products that would be enjoyed by the recipient for a long time. The corporate SWAG industry lags far behind in these areas, and we distinguish ourselves further by upholding high standards. We are so deeply committed to our values that we just became the world’s first Social Purpose corporate gifting agency.
While the first two values are important, they would be nothing without the third. When our clients choose from our catalog of curated, covetable products, they’re taking a huge step forward in building lasting relationships with their community. Giving these quality gifts to their clients, partners, and workers sends a message of thoughtful appreciation that goes far beyond the usual cheap plastic SWAG typical of this industry.
As I’ve learned from my own history, when we know better, we do better. We can all do better at gift giving, and feel better by receiving conscious gifts. This is why I trademarked the phrase, “Gift Something Better”. I printed it out and posted it on my desk, where it reminds me every day to stay connected to the people I care about: family, friends, clients, and the Earth. She deserves everything we have to give.