Did you know that Americans spend on average over $700 per person on holiday gifts, or about 1 1/2 % of their total annual budget? Holiday gifts cost a lot of money (even if you're below the national average), and it's well worth bringing your gift spending in line with the wisdom of your Divine Spirit.
The time and resources spent on gift-giving can be a conduit for love and be used to strengthen our relationships, if we take the time to give gifts consciously.
Picture the person you're selecting a gift for, or, better yet, notice them in your daily interactions. Get in touch with your feelings of affection and love for them. What is unique about them? What are they dealing with in life right now? What are they passionate about? What are their favorite activities, colors, styles? What are they talking about wanting or needing? (You might ask them, if you're willing to give up the element of surprise, but often a little sneakiness in the service of love is a good thing.) Just notice. Then, in a private moment, allow your Divine Self to suggest a gift for them. Go into "3-point attention" and imagine yourself blessing the gift and giving the gift to them. How do they react?
Once you've got an idea for a gift, here are some questions to ask yourself, to be sure that it is coming from a place of selfless love (rather than ego masquerading as the Lover), and will be received as a love-gift.
Is this something this person wants? Is it something they would have chosen for themselves? Is it what they asked for? Does it communicate your appreciation for them as an individual? Does it support their values? Will they LOVE it? (Watch out for the natural ego tendency to give people what you would like to receive. It works out ok if your loved one wants what you want, but be careful! If you're really sneaky -- in a good way -- you can also use this as an indication of what someone else might want... "Let's see, they got this for me last year and that wasn't something I wanted, so that might mean it's the kind of thing THEY would like to receive!" When in doubt, ask...)
Does the gift include a bit of your individuality (your taste or effort or thoughtfulness) as well as being something the person really wants?
Is the gift good quality, in new condition, with more than the ordinary level of craftsmanship and beauty? (This criterion eliminates most possibilities for recycled gifts. Gift-giving is not usually a good way to get rid of something you received as a gift, or bought for yourself and decided you didn't like... People can usually spot re-gifting. I once had a good laugh when I received a wedding present from a young couple that still had the gift card in the box from THEIR family member who had given it to them.)
Is the gift at least as high quality as something you would have selected for yourself? (No one will feel you're being generous if you buy your gifts at Walmart and your own stuff at a boutique.)
Is it extraordinary? (i.e. NOT an ordinary practical thing you would usually be buying for them even if it weren't a special occasion. Such gifts are guaranteed to underwhelm or even bore the recipient.)
Have you put care into the packaging and presentation of the gift (including selecting the appropriate time to give it)?
Will it be a surprise? (Especially important if the person LIKES surprises.)
How will the recipient feel upon receiving this gift? (One hopes closer to "delighted" than "disappointed" or "offended"!)
Will they perceive it as having "strings attached" (judgment, guilt, duty to use it, expectations of some behavior or reciprocal gift you want from them in the future, etc.)
Does this gift communicate the level of love or affection appropriate to the relationship? (Generous enough, but not embarrassingly so? Romantic enough, if it is a romantic relationship? Platonic enough, if it is a platonic relationship? Magical enough, if it is a magical relationship?)
Is it appropriately generous relative to the gifts you are selecting for others (especially if they will be receiving them at the same time?)
Will the gift bring you closer and strengthen your relationship?
Have you blessed the gift? (One way to do this is to make the gift yourself, thinking positive thoughts about the person as you do so. Another is to do a little ritual in which you pour love into the gift, using "3-point attention".)
Remember that gifts do not have to be durable things. For the person who "has everything," or is difficult to please, you might go to consumable gifts (like food or concert tickets) to avoid the awkwardness of the gift someone doesn't really like but feels they should keep because it was a gift from you.
If this all sounds tedious, go back to the meditation and remind yourself WHY you're bothering to give consciously, and do it from the heart, with the intention of communicating your love, as a spiritual act of devotion to the Beloved.
Receiving can be a conscious process, too... Remember that even non-magical friends and family have probably gone through many of the above steps in choosing gifts for you. Give them eye contact and sincere thanks for their care, and forgive them if they bought you a present that is really for themselves! We're all in this (human condition) together...
Love and Magic,