-- Gifts for birthdays has taken a sea change in a span of three decades.
All we could wish for on our birthdays was a payasam ( kheer) made and taking oil bath and wearing a new dress- many times we have sacrificed our Diwali dresses in return for this one. Affordability was big question those days.
Birthdays were always an 'in house' function- why function - it's just a small gesture to make you feel proud, you can escape from the regular chores ! No phone calls, no mails, no greeting card etc., Later when my kids were born the idea of celebrating the birthday started and it was like a 'mini kutties' camps.
I have not purchased any toys for my kids those days and all that they could get was kitchen utensils as play things and later they were given a wooden horse by my younger brother's friends who stayed with us for two days and we purchased a tricycle for both of them.Later when we moved to Anand, the real headache started , parents or the kids would come and say just an hour so before the party about the birthday celebration and ours is a campus where one can't get things as gifts, unless and until you make a provision for them in your monthly budget. We are not so financially sound to gift the kids and so I would most of the time gift them with stainless steel cups, and basins neatly wrapped.
Having literally gone thro' the plight of parents in the campus , my husband and I decided to put our foot down for 'receiving gifts'. First step was to make my kids understand, secondly, ask them to give their wish list before the D'day and strictly inform all friends and parents not to greet them with gifts but greetings made by them were allowed!
I can say we could do it successfully till they completed class ten.And as a return gift all friends were given stationery items like pencils erasers, foot rulers , color pencils-sketch pens a new introduction in the market,the crayons taking the back seat.. -. the party had cutting of cake of course baked by me minus icing, chips, some Glucose biscuits and kheer. Those days when I was working I would bake cake every weekend for the kids to relish during weekdays. A covering up for my absence when they came from school.
In their teens ,apart from the cake the menu consisted of idli, dosa, vada sambhar, chutney and some ready made sweets. Arjun hardly celebrated his birthdays, he is a bit shy in celebrating and for him it was 'a girly affair!' Anjana had a full blast with her friends. Even during her PG time the birthday was celebrated at home with only her thick friends group.Those days the gifts were like jewelry sets, dress materials etc and it was a mutual understanding as friends would join and pool to get something worth while.
Coming to the current trend oh, God one will go mad to select gifts for all ages!
You have 0-3 months to ..the old age sections., the choice and varieties would make you scratch your brain and at one point you would decide to give cash rather than break your head for the gift of your choice. The selection and gifting also reflects a person's thoughtfulness. If the gift is useful to the receiver, it's well and good, otherwise it goes waste and the receiver may not like the 'out of box' thinking! Who knows it might boomerang to you on a different occasion.
Next comes the wrapping , nowadays the gifts are wrapped by the shopkeepers themselves, so one headache is over. If one has to do at home one needs the essential things like wrappers, stapler, glue or cellophane tapes, the best wishes card, sketch pens , bow or the colored ribbon etc.The wrappers also have come in varieties and as per one's spending limit.Many times there is a possibility of receiving the same type of gifts as people think in relation to the age group. I find no harm in asking the parents of kids about their choice like interests in reading, sketching, listening to music, playing any instruments, indoor game activities etc. This way both the parties will be happy and the money spent also is worth the strain.Giving cash to kids will make them sad unless they have the concept of saving for buying something of their interest.
It's always better to give something which of immediate use as gifts and one should plan sincerely and whole heartedly while gifting whether it's for birthdays or anniversaries or weddings etc.I remember thirty five years back we received (on the occasion of our marriage) a lot of Gods and Goddesses photos, wall clocks, plastic tumblers, glasses, quarter plates, flasks and the spending amount was Rs. twenty five only.
To know the exact item for gifting one should occasionally visit shops to get a first hand information or find out from others so that we live in the memory of the others whom we gift with excellent pieces.Even now we can still recollect the thoughtful gifts we received from our well wishers and feel happy.
Now we have kitchen items like cutlery, dining sets, mats, napkin holder, spoon stands, salt and pepper dispensers, fridge accessories, car upholstery, sofa covers, cushion covers, pillow covers, fleece blankets, bed sheets and bed protectors, microwave containers, Seal fresh containers , Tupperware ,dress materials, saree holders, hangers, blouse covers, lock and seal bags, curtains, pressure cookers, hotplates, school bags, lunch bags, etc..,One can go on adding items .. it's a long list like Hanuman's tail!