No Presents or Flowers, Blessings Only!

I received an SMS invite for a 50th birthday party to be held next week “…no presents or flowers. Only blessings, please!” I called my friend and told him that if he didn’t want gifts, that was his prerogative, but the next time I have a birthday party or an event, I will still want mine.
The first person who started this trend needs to be quartered. Seriously!
Receiving gifts is fun and I really don’t know why people don’t accept them with grace. I can perhaps understand the antipathy towards flowers…after my engagement, we had to hire a tempo to carry all the bouquets home and it can all get quite overwhelming. But the same logic does not really apply to non-floral gifts, which will always have some use beyond being mere eye-candy (chocolates being an exception).
The last time I had a birthday party I spent the entire next morning (literally around 3-4 hours), unpacking gifts, cataloguing them and sending thank you SMSes and notes. The whole process from holding the present, removing the wrapping paper without tearing it, the little anticipation just before you find out what the gift is…it’s all such great fun!
I don’t know why people started refusing gifts, but it seems to have started around 25-30 years ago. It was perhaps to avoid receiving recycled pressure cookers and crystal bowls during weddings that people probably moved towards giving and receiving covers with money! And then some pseudo-snobs stopped accepting covers with money as well. Invitations started reading, “no gifts, no covers, no flowers…blessings only”. This then, unfortunately, percolated down to the middle and lower middle classes and horizontally to cover other events including birthdays and anniversaries as well.
Honestly! The birthday-boy and the invitee are both losers!
It’s fun choosing the appropriate gift for a friend that fits the event. The effort this entails forces us to think a little more about our friends and their likes and dislikes. And the act of going out and buying or getting or ordering something makes us invest a little more time (and money) into that friend and friendship. Then, during the occasion, it feels nice to have something in one’s hands to give. And then after a couple of days, to get a short “thank you” note, feels even better!
It’s fun receiving gifts. I don’t judge friends by whether they bring gifts or not and definitely not on the kind of gifts they get (who am I kidding, of course, I judge…). The act of receiving, collecting all the gifts and presents, bringing them home, opening them, finding uses for them, deciding which ones to keep and which to recycle or give away…it allows time for reflection and an opportunity to say thank you.
Giving and receiving gifts presents us with a pause button in this busy life of ours. The little extra time we spend to procure a gift and to say thank you when receiving one…it all helps nurture our relationships!
People complain about what to give. It actually gets much simpler once you are older. Chocolates and alcohol are always welcome. Ties, shirts, music, books, gift vouchers are all fine as well…as long as there are no crystal bowls, photo frames, wall clocks, pressure cookers and cuff-links (I mean, who wears cuff-links, for chrissakes!), we are good to go.
So try this out! The next time you have a party, don’t say anything. Let people bring what they want. And trust me, the older you get, it just gets to be that much more fun!

8 Comments

  • Bhavin, you have tackled a relevent quandry yet again
    I don’t even feel authoritative enough to pass on a blessing or two, let alone ‘shower’ them with some

  • I agree It’s fun receiving gifts..but People started feeling Receiving gifts as liabilities you have to repay… some gifts in gold bring risk of (future) value appreciation… and who gave gifts expect return gift from us in future and if we not able to attained his/her next party then he/she may heart and spread words like miser or brought low quality gift … Some people bring costly gifts and receiver may not in position to return same quality gift … and indirectly this also heart some other people’s present in the same party…so I feel it’s good that this trend of accepting gifts is ending…

  • I think no gifts is good specially for seniors. One has to find space to house it! and what to buy someone who has everything, you tear your hair in desperation.
    Blessings are fine I think

  • You have really given a new angle to this gift business. I agree to your points about selecting the right gift and all that, but once you take this labor then it is natural to expect a reciprocal gesture. When that does not materialize there is heartburn. It may not be even intentional because some people are introvert and can not express their feeling in this way. But how does one know it is by nature or design? Life does become complicated!but as you said a bottle of scotch is always welcome!

  • I totally agree with your view. In fact, we are curbing a creative instinct in people by asking them not to get any gifts. And I feel its more insulting to tell them not to get anything because that way you are holding their choice in question, and portraying yourself superior as someone who doesnt need their things. Even Krishna accepted the humble parched rice offered as a gift by Sudama. So are greater Gods to do away with it?

  • Bhavin…totally agree with u but i must say it is difficult choosing a gift for someone. I love receiving them though..

  • I agree with what you said. But many a times, there comes a situation where in there are expectations from the opposite person, as to what gift they would give and whether or not they would give, in the first place. Now, all this can ruin the relations specially with friends and with conservative families.. For imbibing this culture in our society where people compare and talk about it, we should be first ready to accept that its ok if anyone doesn’t feel the need to give a gift to you even if you have given them one.

  • I agree with what you said. But many a times, there comes a situation where in there are expectations from the opposite person, as to what gift they would give and whether or not they would give, in the first place. Now, all this can ruin the relations specially with friends and with conservative families.. For imbibing this culture in our society where people compare and talk about it, we should be first ready to accept that its ok if anyone doesn’t feel the need to give a gift to you even if you have given them one.

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