Gift-Giving: Why do we really do it?

Today gift giving is as much a tradition as all those other popular holidays. As much as some like to complain, saying they don’t comply to gift-giving and national holidays because it is just ‘feeding the pockets of the card companies’, it is a popular part of our lives and would be sorely missed. But why do we give presents throughout the year? How did it start and why did it catch on?

In the past gift-giving took on a much more symbolic nature and was less of a symbol of caring or love. A perfect example of this is at the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. The three kings brought gifts that represented future prosperity. Similarly, at significant events gifts were exchanged to signify hopes for a fertile future, wealth and generally the continuation of a happy, healthy life. In comparison to today our gifts can seem a little thoughtless and insignificant, but nowadays we are much less superstitious. In the majority of cases we don’t feel the need to offer a gift to prove our faith, or bury all our hopes of a prosperous year in a gift of seeds.

Christmas is probably the biggest gift-giving event of the year and nowadays it is celebrated regardless of religion, but as a time to demonstrate love for someone. However, it is also more than that, it is now a tradition and a social necessity. If you don’t give someone a gift at Christmas it is more of a statement than if you do. Gift giving has become a social requirement resulting in millions of pounds of insincere gifts, just because people feel like they have to give something for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and anniversaries.

That being said, it is not such a thriving business because everyone feels like they ‘should’ give presents. There are still many people out there who do it with genuine thought and feeling. They consider the individual and what they need and want. They consider the balance between loving to give and loving to receive. Some people never think that their birthday gift to another will come back to them when it is their turn, they simply think about the recipient and how much they love them. They put that extra effort in, buying personalised gifts to ensure that the recipient sees how much they care.

While it might be a longstanding tradition to give presents, as with everything it has evolved over the years and ultimately it is up to the individual what he or she decides to do. If you don’t believe in Valentine’s Day then don’t spend a fortune on cards and flowers each year. If you don’t believe in wedding gifts then simply ask for a donation to the honeymoon. Nowadays it is all down to the individual and what they choose to believe and do with their money. But keep in mind that people love receiving gifts. Waking up on Christmas morning and knowing that you are going to be spoiled by everyone who loves you is a priceless feeling and taking that away would make life a little bit sadder.

Next time you get fed up with the prospect of saving up for Christmas or you have 5 weddings lined up for the summer and can’t face buying all those gifts, consider what gift-giving really means. Why are you buying a present? Is it because you love them and want to give them a little joy or is it because you feel like you have to? You never ‘have to’ give presents, there should always be a reason.

This post was written by Elizabeth A. Wright, professional writer and strong believer in the value of gift-giving. She loves the whole process from choosing the present to wrapping it and handing it over to the eager recipient. She writes on behalf of

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