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How a Meaningful Gift Affects the Recipient (And Five Tips for Making Your Gifts More Meaningful)

Giving gifts isn’t about acquiring more ‘stuff.’ Discover how the perfect gifts can leave lasting impressions on a person.

There’s something profound that happens when you pick the right gift for someone. 

Sentimentality is an important part of gift-giving, and it’s important that gifts have an emotional impact.

The last thing anyone wants is to open a gift, only for it to be cast aside. That’s disheartening for the gift giver. And also, it can’t give a lasting impression to the person receiving the gift.

That’s why sentiment is key.

Although it’s important to buy sentimental gifts, it’s easier said than done. Many people struggle to choose truly sentimental gifts.

Some people simply don’t know the recipient that well, so it’s difficult to choose something meaningful. Other people may overthink the selection process and discard choices until they’re left with something less impactful.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry.

Giving meaningful gifts doesn’t have to be difficult. Take a look at some tips to make the buying process less stressful and more meaningful.

But before you buy, you need to truly understand how the perfect gift can impact a person’s life…

Sheer Sentiment – The True Effects of a Meaningful Gift

It’s a popular misconception that you have to make big, extravagant gestures to make an impact when choosing gifts. Sometimes it’s the little things that bring joy to a recipient’s heart. 

Take Ashley’s case as an example:

Ashley didn’t know what to expect from her boyfriend during that first year that they were dating. She thought that maybe she’d receive something nice but neutral. Maybe he’d take her to dinner or buy her something from her favorite store.

When the big day came, he handed her a flat present. It felt like a wrapped piece of paper to her. And her heart sank.

But fortunately, she managed to drum up some fake enthusiasm to what she was sure was a very unsentimental gift.

Instead, she opened a folder containing official documents for a star he purchased for her – and named after her mother, Martine.

Martine was the name that her mother had when she was in a Quebec orphanage. After her adoption, her new parents changed her name to Judy. But she never forgot her original name. Her mother even gifted it to her daughter as her middle name.

Although Ashley’s mother died when she was 16, she never got over the loss. She cried about it on countless nights to her boyfriend. 

And he remembered.

Now every time she looks into the night sky, she has a constant memory of her mother and she’s never alone.

Sometimes, gifts can also inspire people to follow their passions. And Dan received such a gift when he was 7 years old:

Dan remembered Mr. Applebaum, his first-grade teacher. This teacher stood out to him out of a myriad of teachers in his formative years because he paid attention to a 7-year-old child.

In particular, Mr. Applebaum noticed that Dan liked to draw more than the average child. So out of the blue, he gave young Dan a blue three-ring binder full of blank loose-leaf papers. It was a way to encourage him to keep following his passion.

And it was the first sketchbook Dan ever owned.

Over 30 years passed since that fateful day, and Dan’s filled hundreds of sketchbooks since then. But none of them had the impact that the blue three-ring binder did. 

Dan didn’t just receive the gift of paper. The teacher gave him the idea that his passion was worth pursuing.

Today, Dan’s a cartoonist. But he may not have pursued that career had it not been for one meaningful gift by an insightful teacher.

Meaningful gifts don’t necessarily need to carry expensive price tags. What matters most is that you show the recipient that you know who they are and that you care.

The Tips

Sentimental gifts can leave lasting impressions on the recipient. Make your own impression the next time you pick a gift out with these tips:


Tip #1 – Listen Intently (To Learn More About the Person)

How many people really listen to each other when they talk?

It seems like the world is full of white noise. Many people are so focused on what they have to say, that they fail to listen to what the other person says. And the other person’s words become white noise in their heads.

If you really want to give a gift that has an impact, your first task is to listen to the other person. Listen with intent and purpose and you may find out some things about them you never knew before.


Tip #2 – Consider If the Gift Shows How Well You Know the Person

Each person wants to feel like they’re known. They want to know that there’s someone out there in the world that understands who they are and what makes them who they are.

Gifts that speak to the recipient’s values, or what they think is important, convey the message that “I see you.” When you buy a gift based on something they’d enjoy, you’re letting the recipient know how well you know them as a person.


Tip #3 – Add an Element of Personalization

Any element of personalization can seem meaningful, but you can go the extra mile by creating a story based on a few words.

Tell their story through personalization.

Use a memory, a hobby, or a comment mentioned in conversation to add impact to a gift. 

If you’re sending a corporate gift to a client, don’t settle for a simple company branding. Choose a special date that tells the story of your collaboration.


Tip #4 – Relate the Gift to an Important Time or Memory

Ashley’s boyfriend bought her a star and named it after her deceased mother. His gift to her related to a memory that she cherished, and it had a lasting impact.

Everybody has significant moments in their lives. You just need to listen intently to figure out a gift that can match up to that important period in the recipient’s life.


Tip #5 – Understand Why You’re Giving the Gift

There are many different reasons to give gifts, so you have to make sure that it meets the right context and occasion. 

A gift that may be appropriate for a birthday or Christmas may not be okay as a sympathy gift. The last thing you want to do is give an extravagant material gift when someone is in the process of grieving.

Another example is a houseguest or housewarming gift. Typically, these gifts relate to food and drink the recipient may enjoy. So, an appropriate gift might be a wine glass set or cheese board.

In the end, while you must find out who the recipient is as a person, context is the deciding factor in gift selection. You could always work around the recipient’s personal tastes based on the type of gift you plan on giving.


Give a Gift That Keeps on Giving

Meaningful gifts have a lasting impact long after the wrapping paper gets tossed in the bin. They can represent fond memories that recipients can look back on in years to come.

So, how do you make sure you give gifts with lasting impact?

Listen when the other person speaks to find out who they are and what they enjoy. Most people don’t spill their deepest desires, so this may be the only way you get clues.

Also, consider adding an element of personalization to the gift the way that Ashley’s boyfriend did with the star. Tell a story, whether it’s their story or yours together. And make sure the gift fits within the context of the occasion.

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