Do You Feel Your Gifts Project Your Self Worth?

March 26, 2010 Aimee White

Gift Giving and Keeping Score

Yesterday, I went to work and we had a baby shower for a co-worker. The food was excellent, the decorations beautiful, and a table was full of gifts. No matter if it's a baby shower, a bridal shower, Christmas, or a birthday party, I can't help but feel that your gift gets entered into a silent competition in the minds of everyone watching. It's as if each gift goes through a rating system. A score is given for the level of creativity, thoughtfulness, expense, quantity, and quality for the gift itself as well as how it is wrapped. And somehow the overall score given to your gift correlates to how much you love that person, or even worse, how you rate as a person on a scale of worth.

1165450862_c1ee93934b_oI have had a really hard time finding anything online to support my theory. Am I the only one that feels this way?

Gift Receivers Are Under Pressure Too

I have also heard people discuss the etiquette of the receiver of the gifts. Sometimes people feel that the recipient must "ooh" and "ahh" and "thank you" over and over again over each gift otherwise they appear ungrateful or spoiled or greedy. I couldn't stop worrying about this at my own baby shower. I tried my best to show gratitude, even going so far as to hug every person after opening their gift in hopes of being genuine.

And does anyone else struggle with thank you notes? I never got any thank you notes out after my daughter's first birthday and it still haunts me to this day.

I found some ideas of hosting "no gift" parties where you want "Presence, Not Presents" or where people ask you to donate to a charity instead. The idea is to show that people are important and not the materialistic things you could bring.

One family explained their decision to host a no gift birthday party as follows,

"Before Ranger was born we attended a few kid parties where gift opening was part of the entertainment. The birthday kid unwraps an endless pile of gifts while the other kids fidget, envy, or fight over the new toys. The birthday kid is expected to respond appropriately with excitement and gratitude for each gift before it is snatched away and replaced with another package. Depending upon the party's adult leadership, the gifts are then put in protective custody (which tantalizes and torments other kids) or they are handed out for general use while the birthday kid keeps unwrapping (which tantalizes and torments the honoree). Too many gifts arrive at one time, so a wonderful gift may get little notice. A lot of gifts may be last minute purchases and not particularly well suited for the recipient. The unwrapping provides lots of opportunity for awkward, uncomfortable moments."

I like the idea, but in our culture that is an exception and not the norm. Most likely we cannot escape this situation. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

APA Reference
White, A. (2010, March 26). Do You Feel Your Gifts Project Your Self Worth?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Aimee White

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