Tomorrow may be one of your colleagues’ last day in office. Or it may be your best buddy’s birthday. The first thing that comes to mind is a gift for him or her.
Exchanging gifts is a part of human nature, a sort of social reciprocal that seems to have evolved since the beginning of our civilisation.
The art of giving gifts is a reflection of being appreciative and kind. The practice is deep rooted in history. Marcel Mauss in his book ‘The Gift’ has showed how the reciprocal gift giving practices have improved the quality of living.
There are hundreds of reasons for giving gifts throughout the year, whether festive occasions, individual ones or otherwise.
In this era of globalisation, there are so many ‘days’ and ‘events’ to give gifts, such as Mothers Day, Fathers Day,Friendship Day, Valentine’s Day and so many personal events and anniversaries - the list is virtually endless! On top of that, some there are the social ceremonies like weddings, birthdays and more.
Bangladeshis are no exception. One can hardly find a locality without gift shops stuffed with soft toys, cards and decorative pieces in the cities.
There are hundreds of gift shops and their franchises including popular ones like Archie’s Gallery, Hallmark, Idea Crafts, 1 to 99 and so on, all over Dhaka city.
Fashion houses like Aarong, Anjans, Sada Kalo and some others are widely known for their popular and reasonable gift items.
These shops have already started to showcase their items for upcoming Mother’s Day on 13 May.
Auritry, a student of Brac University, was in an Archie’s Gallery outlet in the capital’s Shantinagar area looking for a mug inscribed with the words, ‘I love you Mom’.
She said she already bought a cotton handloom sari for her mother.
“I wanted to let her know that I love her and I cannot write that on the sari, can I? That is why I am looking for a mug,” she smiled.
While asking who the buyers are in Archie’s Gallery, the shopkeeper said, mostly students and young people come to get gifts there.
They had great sales during the Valentine’s Day in February, unlike any other occasion throughout the year, he said.
There was a time when young men sent roses with card written “roses are red, violets are blue, sugars are sweet and so are you” to their beloved ones on Valentine’s.
Apart from Valentine’s many of us can recall our childhood memories of buying greetings cards during Eid or on friends’ birthday.
Sadly, greeting cards have lost their charm now.
People nowadays prefer to send greeting messages over phone or social media rather than buying cards. Technology has introduced us with many global ‘days’ to celebrate, but at the same time, it has affected our social skills, said Shahin Alam, the manager of Azad Products, the country’s leading greeting cards manufacturer.
But there are some global companies like Hallmark, Canva and many online based shops who have brought E-cards with illustrations, unique photos and personalised features and much more.
Technology has also introduced some really unique gift ideas. Tune on to any FM radio channel at 12:00am, you will hear the RJ reading out some random names and saying ‘Happy Birthday’.
Hearing ‘Happy Birthday’ from your favourite RJ? Best virtual gift for many!
All the criteria of gifts mentioned above are for the young. What about the oldies?
Older adults are more sensible while buying gifts. They consider buying something that will be of practical value to the recipient.
After minutes of waiting I found someone like that. Shahin Akhter, 45, was buying a coffee maker for her niece who is a medical student.
“She stays in the dormitory and she loves coffee. She can easily make coffee with this electric maker while studying late at night,” Shahin said.
Books are considered the best gifts ever, only if the receiver is a reader. One can easily buy books from online shops like rokomari.com, papertree.com and many other stores easily without stepping out of home.
Choosing gifts for our loved ones is a thoughtful process indeed. Our selection will decide if it will be appreciated or not. While choosing we not only consider the receiver’s likes and dislikes but also their current state of mind.
Nowshaba Hamid, a second year student, was buying a watch for her friend’s birthday in KZ Jewellery in New Market.
When asked, “Why a wrist-watch?” Nowshaba giggled and said, “Honestly, he is having a very bad time. He became a Devdas (implying a tragic hero) since his girlfriend left him. I hope this watch will change his time.” She laughed out loudly.
This is what we call a ‘Gag Gift’, the gift that pokes a little well-intended fun at the receiver.
Exchanging gifts, however, is not only an interaction between individuals. Even gifts are exchanged between nations since ages, certainly in a broader context.
For instance, France gifted Lady Liberty to the United States to mark their friendship in 1885.
Norway last year had actually planned to gift a mountain to Finland as part of its 100 years of independence celebrations.
Many of you might wonder, “How to gift-wrap a mountain?”
Well, maybe that is why Norway dropped the idea later!