Hints about gift giving!

22 November 2012
Author   J.W. ASHEEKE

HOLIDAY gift-giving is a challenge. Certainly, there can be a money challenge when we want to give gifts to celebrate Christmas and we may not have enough cash. Sometimes, we might not find a gift we are looking for. But, the main challenge is in knowing what gift to give.



As an aside: Christmas decorations in Namibia that are about snow, sleds and frost are hilarious. Snowmen, Santa, Reindeer, North Pole . . . whaaaat? In 40-degree weather in Southern Africa? We should be talking about a brown brotha’ on a magic sand board going over the dunes, wearing shorts, sandals, an open safari shirt, a Windhoek Lager logo tank top, sun shades and a wide brimmed straw hat. Our ‘Santa’ should be happily singing Liberation Movement songs as he tosses his gifts over the wall of each city house, farm, tukul, or rusted zinc roof shack that he passes.

Whatsup with Reindeer? Let’s go with kudus pulling the extra-wide sand board around as it glides in the air on heat thermals. Let’s switch away from the North Pole thing and have ‘Santa’ live in a secret, beautiful hidden workshop deep in the Namib, with lots of newly employed civil servants (i.e., struggle kids as elves).

Apart from a mythical Santa-thing, we also buy real gifts. So, let me give some advice. The overall rule is this: THINK about getting something relevant to the person receiving the gift, but that YOU would appreciate receiving.

Buy a gift for someone appropriate to your relationship. If the person getting the gift is a work colleague or friendly neighbor, don’t give an intimate gift like underwear, jewelry or perfume. Choose stationary, coffee mugs and colorful office desk supply stuff or a cute, a ceramic garden piece, a small-sized cuddly thing or a funny stick-on decal for their computer.

If you decide to buy a book as a gift, then think carefully about that. Don’t just go to CNA and pick up some discount novel from the sale table. Only get a book for a person if you KNOW what they like to read and are absolutely certain they have not yet bought it. Someone who loves books but is now having eye problems would LOVE a book-on-CD to listen to the story.

If the person you are gifting is young and you are old, make sure you buy something young people like. Likewise, if you are young buying for someone who is mature, be careful. It’s quite silly to gift today’s young adults with crocheted doilies for side tables or Dolly Parton CDs. Equally, buying your old Uncle the “Who got some gansta sh**” CD by the rapper Snoop Dogg and a gift certificate for a free tattoo is probably not the way to go.

Men: for goodness sake do not buy household appliances or cooking tools for your wives’ Christmas gifts! You have to get that a new fridge for the house anyway, Christmas or not. If you buy her an apron or serving spoon; you are beyond hope as a gift-giver.

Partners should feel free to get jewelry for each other. But, pay attention. If your partner wears GOLD, then don’t buy silver. Men: if she owns real diamonds already, don’t buy her fakes.

There is nice costume jewelry and there is Chinese cheap. Super cheap earrings or bracelets can cause a skin rash. If you buy jewelry trinkets from a clothing store, have no illusions about value; consider it a playful toy.

It seems that 9-carat gold jewelry is standard here. What a pity… it changes colors due to the heat and body oils; never let it touch the water or else it pales even faster. Gold at14 or 18 carats are better, but expensive. Electroplated gold-tone jewelry can be nice if the design is clever and fun. So, choose wisely.

Watches are always ok as intimate gifts. But, note your partners’ size and preference. Don’t buy some huge-faced, thick, fake-bling watch for a discreet, quiet, subtle person with a small wrist. If she works out at the gym, why not buy a water-proof sports watch in a color that she likes?

Ladies: think clearly before buying your man a shirt as a gift. I happen to know my man only wants 100% cotton shirts in professional, subtle colors. I know that he is size 17 ½, 34/35. Take the time to find out the right size before buying your man clothing. Look at the back of his existing clothes and watch him while he dresses for guidance. Don’t choose a ‘new color’ that he never wears; stick with the color range that he buys for himself.

Be cautious when buying electronics. Don’t get knock-offs or stolen stuff. Rather get something else if you cannot afford the real deal. Get the latest Ipad or not; don’t buy look-alikes. Get the Galaxy III cellphone or not, no ‘wannabehui’ brand stuff. Get the Kindle Fire HD or not, avoid second-class, no-name fakes. Check out the warranty and return policy before you buy.

Make sure that your gift-giving fits your budget. NEVER spend more than what you can afford on a gift – plan properly. Someone who cares about you will feel guilty about receiving a gift they know you cannot afford, particularly when they know you visit the micro-loan place to get monthly grocery money or that you steal money at work.

A nice gift need not cost a fortune.

What about a single red rose with a card and a hand-written poem composed by YOU?

You can make personally crafted paintings or drawings as gifts, if you have that talent.

What about baking some chocolate chip cookies, cakes, a pie or your specialty sweet treat and giving that away?

How about pledging to visit your beloved grannies and grandpas at least once per month for a year? Your time is the best way to say: I love you.

You men out there: What about cooking a dinner from start to finish (and cleaning up afterwards) just for your loved ones? If you cannot cook; that makes it even more special…far better than diamond earrings! (Well…let’s not go that far).

Ladies of all ages, what about getting a room at an exclusive hotel or luxury lodge and spending a highly intimate evening with your man? Get out the scented candles and let YOU be the gift…you could wear a red bow around your neck...and nothing else. (Oooh sista’ – hush yo’ mouth!)

Gift certificates and cash are rather impersonal gifts, so be careful doing this; it can be an insulting shortcut. It could mean: “I didn’t have time for you” or “this is how much you are worth to me.” However, for teenagers, a gift coupon for a video game or an envelope with cash (no less than a N$200 note please) is spot on. But, men…DO NOT give your lady a gift certificate at Edgar’s. That is lame.

I had an Auntie who would buy 20 of the same gift sets from a place like Clicks, put different wrappings on each one and give it out as gifts to her nieces and colleagues at work. My father’s mother would give a Christmas gift to only one of my siblings and not to all of us (we were four). I had another Aunt who re-wrapped gifts she received but did not want and give them away to other people. These things are completely tacky.

Take the time to wrap whatever you give and for goodness sake take the price tags off!

Holidays are about love, warmth and care; so, let your gifts reflect that; put some thought into it.

A gift makes a statement, so choose what you say wisely.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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