Jul 11, 2007


I am always on the lookout for creative ways to bless others. I even maintain a Gift Station in my home, replete with glass jars of elegant but practical gifts for spontaneous giving. Yet, experience has taught me to set guidelines: not as an attempt to restrict, but to insure that the blessing carries beyond the actual presentation.

I love to give and I am certainly not reluctant to receive! I’m an exuberant soul, so not one of my gift givers is unconvinced that I took great pleasure in receiving. However, as a teacher, speaker, and women’s leader, the opportunities for giving and receiving are multiplied by the amount of people I connect with. In a given season, I will receive a plethora of knickknacks that then contend for limited shelf space in my home. Although I am overwhelmed by the kindness, this creates more mismatched clutter—and dusting—in my overflowing life.

Unless I really know a person—or I’ve targeted a specific desire—I present a carefully chosen gift card. This way, they can buy exactly what they love and will make use of. Often, if a gift is not something that meets their tastes or needs, it will likely sit for a respectable space of time until it gradually disappears. I try not to burden people with that dilemma.

When presenting a gift card, I make sure that the gift sleeve or container is beautifully embellished. I want it to be an eye-grabber, something that jubilates that the recipient is not ordinary! Personal touches make broad sweeps of affection and affirmation in a person's life.

I will also choose a store-bought card over a handmade greeting if the recipient could care less about how it was made. Years ago, I watched a close friend toss one of my newly created cards into a wastebasket within an hour of receiving it! In her mind, the message had been received, so the tangible portion was no longer needed.

Seeing my “work of art” trashed definitely stung—especially considering the hours I had poured into it. Then I took a step back… Granted, there could have been more sensitivity, but my friend was of the cut-and-dry ilk. In her mind, I had given her a huge hug that she willingly received but didn’t need to cling to. That incident taught me to first consider the personality of the recipient before making an investment. Hence, I placed a higher value on my time.

Growing up, my mother was often frustrated with one of my brothers because after opening a gift, he did not exhibit a hint of emotion. (This was quite a contrast to my cartwheels and leaps of joy.) The true test of satisfaction—or lack of it—was whether he used the item. Often, we never saw the outcome of that test, unless the gift showed up at one of his garage sales. Nowadays, he only receives gift cards from me.

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♫ Karen