The Sociology of Gift Giving

Tuesday, 1 October 2019  |  Admin

 

Why do we give other people gifts?

Birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, they’re all geared up to giving stuff away to friends and family. There are also those work gifts when someone leaves or that little keepsake you buy for a friend who is about to get married, start a new job or have a baby.

Sometimes the list seems endless, especially if you know a lot of people or have a large circle.

The reasons why we give gifts at all are wide and varied. According to the Journal Du Mauss:

“In addition to being the expression of love, friendship or respect, gifts can be used for less noble purposes such as to manipulate, flatter, bribe, deceive, humiliate, dominate, offend, hurt and even kill, as in the case of the poisoned cup.”

Here we take a closer look at the different reasons we give gifts.

The History of Gift Giving

If you look at ancient history, there are plenty of experts who date our propensity for gift giving back to the caveman days, maybe even before that. Certainly, once we began to congregate in bigger groups and became an agricultural society, gifting quickly became more prevalent.

It was about this time that organised religion began, and gifts may first have been used as a way of appeasing or influencing gods of various kinds.

  • In Native American societies, gifts were given for confirming the status of a king or higher member of a group.
  • In Egypt, gifts were placed in burial chambers to accompany people to the afterlife.
  • The Ancient Greeks were particularly focused on presents to help build relationships and for showing devotion and respect to an individual.

It’s easy to understand that, as our societies became more complex, gift giving transferred to ordinary people and their everyday lives.

Gift Giving Today

We may not realise it but giving each other presents plays an important social role in today’s society. Much like the Ancient Greeks, we use it to build and reinforce relationships of all kinds. For example, passing on a gift to someone we love is a great way to show our appreciation and how much we feel about them.

On the other side of things, not giving a gift when one is expected to or refusing to accept one that is offered can be a sign that a relationship is not as good as maybe it seems.

As individuals, we unconsciously put a symbolic meaning onto gifts. Socks and handkerchiefs are your more typical smaller gifts These gifts are not for making big gestures but are nice token gifts perfect for pairing with another gifts. We are not shy of different, unique sock ideas here at Gifts from Handpicked.

 

Whether we realise it or not, gift giving also means we are looking for some kind of reciprocation. That doesn’t necessarily mean a present in return. It could be something as simple as a thank you, note or a loving phone call. Some gift giving is more selfless, of course. When you buy presents for your children at Christmas, you’re not necessarily looking for their love in return, but the smile on their face says it all.

People even buy gifts for their pets, without much hope of getting anything back!

Gifts are often given as part of a ritual. In weddings and christenings, presents have long played a part in the big day. In some cultures, there are set rules for gifting such as helping towards a dowry or buying traditional things associated with the occasion.

Gifts before weddings are also popular like engagement parties, hen doo’s, stag doo’s and other events associated with the big day. Here at Mollie and Fred we thrive on making these occasions as organised as possible with our great ranges of wedding stationery from popular brands Busy B, Rachel Ellen and Heaven Sends.

Where to Buy Gifts?

The good news is that we have more scope than ever when we’re looking for a gift for that special someone. Whether you’re planning a birthday, shopping for Christmas, going to a wedding or christening, or simply want to say thank you, why not check out our selection at Gifts from Handpicked? There is so much choice online for these kind of gifts.

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