Friday, January 10, 2014

Gifting problems and Gift Registry

"Man (that includes woman) is a social animal" was the first sentence in the Social Studies text book several decades ago.  It probably remains the same even now.  Being a social animal results in celebrating events in one's life with family members and friends.  Functions like marriage, house warming, baby shower, birthdays and anniversaries are very common and arranged regularly.  Hosts of such functions have to make elaborate arrangements to ensure that these functions are conducted smoothly and are remembered for a long time for the right reasons.  They have a long list of requirements and preparatory plans to ensure the success of the events. Selecting a suitable form of invitation and sending them to the guests is an integral and important part of the process.  Decision making on all these components is an enjoyable as well as a painful process for the hosts.

Once an invitation is received by the guest, the process starts at the other end.  The guest has to first decide whether he or she wants to attend the function.  If the decision is to attend, bachelors have no problem.  For those with a family, the next question is whether to attend alone or with family members.  Those with multiple families have multiple problems.  They have to decide which family to take to the event.  Once this is decided the next issue to be resolved is whether a gift should be presented.  Giving a gift is often an emotional action and involves a lot of feeling and planning.  Gift should be attractive, liked by the receiver and ultimately useful to them.  Fitting the item within one's budget is also a relevant issue.  Some carry gifts with them to ensure that others present at the event carry a good impression about them.  For them, the packet must be big though it contains a useless or cheap item. Even if the decision is not to honor the invitation by personal appearance at the occasion, a decision has to be taken to send a gift or not.  Then to send with whom or how?  The guest has to grapple with all these problems.

Hosts or receivers of the gifts have their own set of problems.  There was an ugly practice of noting down the amounts or items given with the name of the donors, several years ago.  Fortunately, it not seen nowadays. Problems of the hosts start with the transporting of the gift items received at the event place to their residence or place of stay.  Opening of the gift packets is itself an entertaining activity and attracts much attention.  Sifting and sorting the gift items leads to many interesting situations.  Receiving multiple numbers of the same item is one of them. Such items are often disposed off by gifting them to some other host when this host receives an invitation for the next event! There have been some funny instances where a gift given as a guest sometime ago is received back as a host sometime later! Then there are other items which the receiver does not know what to do with.  If the host is lucky, there can be many items which are welcome and indeed needed by them.

The problems enumerated above have been addressed and resolved to different extents by many different ways and means.  In our younger days, there would be an informal meeting of like minded relatives to dwell on the gifting issue.  Either funds were pooled and items were bought or a consolidated cash purse presented to enable the receivers to use it as they deemed fit.  Sometimes gifts were purchased from the pooled funds in consultation with the receiver, wherever possible.  Such items could be given privately to avoid the problems of carrying bulky items to the venue of the function.  Different  practices are used in other parts of the world.  In some countries of Europe, a bowl or box is kept to enable the guests to drop envelopes with cash. Those desiring to remain anonymous can drop an envelope without the giver's name. Present day solutions are handing over an envelope containing cash or giving gift cards.  Gift cards are becoming more popular.  Carrying them is easy and they can be sent by mail as well.  Receivers can buy the items of their choice and at their convenience.

"Gift Registry" is a modern solution to all the problems of giving and receiving of gifts or presents.  Companies like Amazon, Target, Macy's etc. have a system of providing solution to the problem as well as enhancing their own sales. The system works as under:

  • The host (a bride or an expecting mother) prepares a list of all the items required and suitable for receiving as gifts.  The list of items is then placed on the website of the company which is appropriately called as "Wedding Registry" or "Baby Registry" etc
  • The items may be for any amount, say from one dollar onwards and there is no limit for the maximum amount.
  • Items in the registry can be deleted, modified or additions can be made. There is also provision for managing the registry jointly, say both parents or bride and the groom.
  • Companies like Macy's also provide for visiting their stores, selecting the items, getting them scanned and getting a registry prepared as per the scanned bar codes of the items.
  • Once the registry is in place, its availability is advised to the relatives, friends and colleagues by word of mouth, mail or phone.
  • The word spreads and those willing to gift the items view the list on the website of the company.
  • The giver chooses an item from the list, makes payment to the company over internet, through credit or debit card or other acceptable payment method, from the comfort of their homes or offices or even while flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet in a plane.  Company delivers the item at the doorstep of the receiver.
  • Both the sender and receiver can track the movement and delivery of the item.
  • Once a item in the list is taken by someone, the item gets blocked and thus duplication of gifts is avoided.
  • If the item is available at an alternate source at lower rates, the sender can purchase there and get it delivered directly.  When such arrangement is made and advised to the company, the item is blocked in the registry.
  • When the period for registry is about to expire or the event nears, the person creating the registry can buy the other items to complete the requirements.  Companies offer attractive discounts on the final purchases so made.  Otherwise the remaining items can also be allowed to lapse.
  • Registry allows universal donors (from anywhere in the world!) and anything from anywhere as available on the websites.
  • If the item is not satisfactory to the receiver, it can be returned free within the stipulated period.
  • A "Thank You" list is available to the receiver to thank all the contributors to the registry purchases.
  • Companies also have advising teams, available on line, to assist those who require help to use the registry system. 
Registry system thus provides solution to problems of giving or receiving gifts and prevents gifting problems.              


  1. This system is very good, so tell me what you want 😊😊 Sheela

  2. You are right, it has its advantages. But is it not turning it into a commercial transaction that is too structured? Is it not better to gift what you feel like giving? What about the joy of serendipitous discovery - someone gifting you something that is really useful but you may not have thought of yourself. To rule out serendipity so entirely is not good? Dinesh Gopalan

  3. Well suggested alternatives for the host

  4. It is true, finding an item to gift is a very difficult task. Now a days, majority of the gifters are prefering cash which is really useful. The system of gifting explained by you though misses the enjoyment of revealing the suspense when we open the packets, is a good system and also will be useful for the receiver.

  5. The day is not far off - when Marriage Halls / Venues will have Gift Shops , so that the guests need not plan in advance & can go without carrying anything , buy gift as per their budget . May be the Bride & Groom family will also tell the Gift Shop Keeper the likely things they may need so that he can stock it up. They can also put a chart there " Dear Guests - if you are planning to gift us something, please choose any of this items -" Nothing Wrong - Nice to read Sir - Vasan

  6. Very nicely explained covering all aspects of gift giving, receiving and also a touch of recycling in this moden world of ours until now. Inspite of all these things, one should not forget the Gift of Love given and received by all.

  7. Really an eyeopener .Good to get a new perspective on gifting..Keep it going Sir.

  8. Too much anything destroys the very sense of gifting___-- the SURPRISE-- would never be the same I guess....

  9. Very nicely narrated. Very useful too.

  10. interesting. In fact, today i have received an invitation which says: "No Boxed Gifts". I do not know what it means. Is there an explanation, Sir?

  11. The gift should be open and not in a closed box. This is to avoid packing Garbage?