Ways to give and receive gifts without feeling uncomfortable

“‘And you, Ring-bearer,’ she said, turning to Frodo. ‘I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you, I have prepared this.’ She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it, and rays of white light sprang from her hand… May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.'” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Gift-giving is an act from the heart. Much has been written about giving and receiving gifts right through the ages, from the earliest literature right up to the current post-modern age. One thing is for certain: giving a gift to someone else is seen as a wondrous thing to do. Unfortunately, receiving gifts is much more difficult than giving gifts.


Martha Beck opines that “you’d be wholeheartedly thrilled with that gift, that compliment, that declaration of affection—if it weren’t for the wary little voice in the back of your mind wondering how you’ll ever be able to reciprocate…or did the giver really mean it…or what’s the catch?”

Most experts agree that we cannot remain emotionally healthy without learning to accept gifts from other people. Refusing to learn this skill can leave us exposed to chronic emptiness, at risk of addictions and obsessions. Consequently, the healthy alternative is to learn how to receive a gift from another person.

Learning to give and receive gifts.

Giving gifts to other people seems to be easier than receiving them. However, it is equally difficult for some people to both give and receive gifts. I suspect this has a lot to do with being involved in unhealthy familial relationships. Another challenge for a lot of people is knowing what gift is appropriate for a particular set of circumstances. ICustomLabel is a good starting point when determining which gift to purchase.

On the other hand, learning the art of receiving gifts is slightly more challenging; however, it is possible, and a good idea, to learn out to accept a gift from another person, no matter how difficult it is for you to do. You will be the better person for it.

The first step in learning to receive gifts is to believe that you deserve to receive gifts from other people. Actually, it all boils down to believing that you are good enough to have good things showered upon you. We all know that learning the true value of self-worth is often a lesson that takes a lifetime to learn.

In order to give yourself the time to learn your real value, it is a good idea to practice saying the standard phrases such as: “Thank-you, you are very kind” when someone gives you a gift. The more you practice these phrases, the less forced and more natural they will sound.

It is also important to accept that you will sometimes be given funny or unattractive gifts. In order to avoid the public humiliation that you believe goes with receiving unwanted gifts, I would consider opening the gift later. Be vocal in your thanks for the gift and then, when you have had time to process the gift, you can send a thank-you card or message.

Final words

It is not easy to give and receive gifts, especially as all gifts exude a symbolic force. Polynesian Maori cultures believe that part of a person’s soul is passed on with the gift. Therefore, it is vital that we learn to treat the gift with the respect that it is due.


Gage Skidmore – A Gollum statue on the exhibit floor at the 2012 Comic-Con in San Diego. CC license via Flickr.

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