When you look back at your childhood, did you have something that inspired you in a certain way? That was truly special to you? This “thing”, even though it might not have been expensive or useful – it had great value to you. It really meant something to you. What is this value? Where does it come from?

A part of this value is determined by the object itself – how useful it is to the owner, what purpose does it serve. Another part of the value is determined by the giver. Who gave you this gift? What purpose did the giver have when he gave it to you? And lastly, the owner of the object may perceive value in it, independently of everything else.

For example, when I was a little kid, I received this huge book, a novel about a cheetah zoologist. It was a challenging read for me at the time, mostly due to its length. So,when I finished it, I was very proud of my achievement. I was so inspired by this book and the life it described, that I’ve decided to become a zoologist myself. From this book onward, I’ve read every single book about animals that crossed my path (up to about grade 8, when I’ve switched my career aims). I’ve sat in the park, watching birds and “taking notes.” I’ve known everything there was to know about cheetahs, and to this day it remains to be my favourite animal.

Moral of the story? Objects and gifts, just like people, can inspire us through our interactions with them. This is especially true for kids. Kids use toys, objects and things that might not seem useful to you to learn, imitate and discover about the world surrounding them. Their perception of value in an object is a bit different from an adult’s. However, an adult can also help them see value in certain things and ideas through communication, engagement and inspiration.

So for your next gift:

Try to really consider, what might the person you are giving the gift to be truly interested in. Might they be interested in a new hobby? For kids it’s easier, because you can introduce them to new hobbies and interests! Maybe they will discover that they adore playing piano, and they will have you to thank for getting them started.If a person already loves to play music, getting them a new musical instrument may be a great idea! Or if a person loves reading comic books, maybe you could get them a notebook that would inspire them to create their own comic book!

Get the gift, but supplement it with something that would help spark the person’s interest. If you got them a musical instrument, supplement it with a story book about that musical instrument or for an older child maybe a how-to book. If you got them a doodling notebook, why not also give them a book that teaches them how to draw or write comics and a ticket to a comic book convention?

Kids love to be taken seriously, being listened to and guided. Some of the best gifts for kids are those that can inspire them, teach them and challenge them – just enough. What about a microscope set? Microscopes are really cool gifts! Imagine! You are opening up a whole new world for them, full of small, interesting and unique things. And maybe, they will even wash their hands more often from now on!

Maybe try to give something that has a greater meaning than that of the object itself. Maybe you can plan a trip, and spend more time with this person? Maybe you can volunteer together and give your time to someone who would truly appreciate it? This way you are giving the act of giving itself!

Overall, it’s all about the recipient. The more attention you pay to your loved one, the higher the probability of you getting the right gift for them.  A gift so great that they didn’t even know they wanted it! Just like my zoologist book, the gift grew into so much more than a book. It became a memory, an inspiration, a source of knowledge and adventure. I wish for you to find something that lasts in the hearts of your loved ones!

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