Creative Living Creativity Corner

the art of gift giving and receiving

January 25, 2012

We’ve all been there right? Receiving unwanted presents that went straight into cupboards only to come out and be dusted off when the gift giver came back to visit? Who’s going to own up to recycling presents they received when next needing a gift for someone?

When I was in my early 20’s I went out with a young man who one day, on my birthday, prepared a lavish breakfast feast. That was wonderfull in itself. More poignantly, on the table there were about 20 individually wrapped presents waiting for me. Until then, no one had made a fuss over me or my birthdays. That experience changed something in me forever. It was the surprise element, the individually wrapped items, the sheer amount of energy and thought that must have gone into this ‘mini project’ that left an imprint.

What it taught me was to put effort into gift giving. I wonder whether my giving thoughtfull presents derives from that very experience i had in my 20’s.

What it also taught me was to honour my birthdays and make a fuss of myself. Well, dear readers, you’ll be happy to know that I have maintained this tradition, with or without a man! Yep, girls can do it for themselves…. my birthdays have become week-long events. For my 30th, I hired a warehouse and celebrated with 150 people from around the world. For my 40th, wiser and far more discerning, I had an intimate dinner with 35 family and friends chez moi. I just moved home. Fortunately it was a glorious evening so some of us sat out on the terrace. No way I would have otherwise fitted 35 bodies into my small, but perfectly formed abode.

I loved turning 30 and couldn’t wait for my 40th but must admit the novelty factor stops right here. The thought of hitting 50 in a few years is far less appealing.

But, I’m digressing, we are talking presents, right? Well, for my 40th, which coincided nicely with moving into my new home i designed and had totally refurbished, i made an important decision. As the saying goes: ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’. Solution: have a birthday list. Yes, you read correctly! A birthday list. Why is it ok to have a wedding list but not a birthday list? I quickly conducted some market research asking some friends and family how they felt about this? The general consensus was that cash was a no no as they wanted to be remembered by their specific present. People coming from abroad were delighted because, apparently, i am difficult to buy for (really?) and there was no need to schlepp presents in a suitcase. So, it seemed a win win situation. All i will say is i was (obviously) happy with everything i got. All presents are still with me and very much loved and used and everyone was incredibly generous. Thank you!

Here is a small selection:

These are littala’s mariskooli bowls, also known as mari bowls. They were bought from skandium and now come in two sizes. They are divided into different price categories based on the difficulty of manufacturing certain colours of glass.

These glass plates and bowls are from the wonderfull ceramica blue.

And of course my lovely vases from cec le page.

I love giving and receiving presents. The best gifts in life are not bought with money. This is how I was greeted by my close friends on arrival at Düsseldorf airport on my birthday. I rest my case.

For those thinking of buying me something and want to play safe? Always happy about amazon vouchers. Have you got stories to tell?

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  • Reply holly January 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Great post here Tina. I have to admit, I dread getting gifts because usually people buy useless things and I also try hard not to have anything useless in my house. Giving gifts is very, very fun – but only when you have a good idea. Otherwise I find it horrible, and then find myself in the position of giving someone something potentially useless. The birthday gift list is a wonderful idea … except the surprise factor is dulled, don’t you find? I mean, you don’t know who will get you what, but you have an idea of what you may be getting in general.

    Happy belated birthday! Your presents are totally awesome – I still think the vases are so cool!

    Tchuessi Xx.

    • Reply tina January 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      Thanks for sharing that. I must admit I find it really easy to buy presents. Not sure where that comes from? I love the challenge, hence why I do my job and why people pay me to find properties or products for the home.

      I know what you mean by the element of surprise not being there with the birthday list. However, think about all these presents for my 40th and knowing that most presents would have been expensive but not necessarily to my taste. What’s worse? That’s the pay-off. Anyway, I had all shops wrap presents and I sat like a child opening each one of them. I was a happy girl! My Birthday is in August:)
      Are you well?

  • Reply Toni January 26, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Loving this piece Tina. In my house we don’t have birthdays we have birthweeks and we pamper each other for the entire week – magic. Loving you birthday collection!

    • Reply tina January 26, 2012 at 8:09 am

      Do you think it’s a European thing? Hopefully that will be answered by my lovely US readers?
      I so get the week thing. I literally explode on my birthday. Sometimes I spent half a day here and fly off in the afternoon to celebrate with friends abroad. Whichever, the week long tradition is firmly engraved.

  • Reply Lauren January 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    A birthday list! What a great idea! It makes perfect sense. My favorite gift receiving story is not my own, but a friends husband (now ex), when they were adopting their baby said, “Not another one.” to the giver of a gift they received. No wonder my friend divorced him!

    I would love to see a tour of your house…especially if those gorgeous gifts are an indication of what you’d want in something you’d designed and refurbished yourself.

    • Reply tina January 26, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      Ooppss, bet that didn’t go down well.. this is what we call a faux-pas par excellence!!!

      Oh, thanks Lauren. I love colour, does it show?? My flat is small, cute and very me… best tour is you come for a bite to eat:)

  • Reply Theresa January 27, 2012 at 1:26 am

    I love the idea of a birthday list. I mean, why not get what you want, right? I love all the color in your home. I imagine your home as cheery.
    I once received a smokeless ashtray from a relative and I wasn’t a smoker! For a good gift story, a past boyfriend gave me present for each of the five senses. That same boyfriend wrapped a handful of boxes and placed them around the apartment we shared. The first box had a note/hint that led to the next box, which led to the next, ultimately leading to the big prize. Fun!

    • Reply tina January 27, 2012 at 7:52 am

      A present for each of the senses. That’s really different. A treasure hunt in your apartment leading to the big prize. I like!!

      Hilarious. Receiving a smokeless ashtray from your relative although you didn’t smoke. What did you do witht it?

  • Reply Jennifer January 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Looks like you have some pretty thoughtful and amazing friends! How special to be greeted by so much love at the airport 🙂

    • Reply tina January 29, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      Hi Jennifer. Yes, that was quite overwhelming. I’m not often speechless but that really took me by surprise.

  • Reply ursula (room to bloom) January 30, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I am extreeeemely picky about what comes into my home or doesn’t and by now everyone I know is scared to get me anything vaguegly home related – because when people ask whether I’d like something particular for my birthday/christmas, I make a point of telling them not to get me any presents, and if they insist, NOT to get anything for the home (or to wear, or smellies). Terrible, I know. What I enjoy most is a special day/evening with family & friends, no presents needed.

    • Reply tina January 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      I agree. I am exactly the same. But it was my 40th… so couldn’t really risk it could I?
      I must remember that when I come round to yours:)

  • Reply annie January 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Well as a recipient of a present from Tina I can vouch for her generous and inspired present buying abilities, she bought me a lovely book 🙂
    And I love the idea of a birthday list. it just reminds me of Carrie when she lost her shoes. Great post Tina.

    • Reply tina January 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Glad you like the book:) Must re-watch that episode.

  • Reply faber castell limited edition » colourliving colourliving September 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    […] particular when it comes to giving and receiving presents, as blogged about here, i’m of the belief that giving presents is an intimate affair and requires certain […]

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