What does gift-giving mean to you?  Does it fill you with joy at the thought of making someone else happy, or does the whole performance fill you with anxiety?

Did you know that HM the Queen has circumnavigated the globe over 7 times and that there’s a 6,000 word document which gives her host countries guidelines as to what to give her as a gift?  I’d be interested to know the advice it contains, since the list of gifts she’s received over the years is intriguing, to say the least.

During her reign HM has received lacrosse sticks (you can just imagine her and Philip running up and down the lawn outside Buckingham Palace, chucking the ball to each other!), sunglasses, a pair of sandals, pineapples, eggs, a box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees, a dozen tins of tuna and 7kg of prawns! Oh, yes, and a whole host of live animals – fortunately most of us don’t have to worry about accepting and catering for an elephant from Cameroon or a pair of sloths from Brazil!

Everyone, but everyone has had to ask the question at some point in their life – ‘what on earth can I buy them?’  (Someone attending Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie decided to give her a bag of loo rolls as a wedding gift, for the person who had everything!)  So what constitutes a gift which will be well-received?  How much should you spend on it? What do you do if ‘they’ buy you something and you haven’t bought them something?  What if you buy something that’s much more expensive than what they’ve spent on you?  Aaagh!

And, as if the whole gift-giving ritual in the UK isn’t fraught enough, you can add the complications of taking into account another country’s customs when buying for friends or business colleagues from abroad. (You can offend in the Far East by wrapping the gift in the wrong colour paper!)  So all in all, it’s a bit of a minefield, this giving lark.

Is it enough to say ‘it’s the thought that counts’ and not worry about the gift itself?  Should we ask HM for some gift giving/receiving advice? We could just take money out of the process and focus on the ultimate, underlying purpose of the gift.  If we view giving as a desire to consolidate a meaningful relationship, giving becomes easy, profound and stress-free.

So, the choice is yours.  You could rush round town pulling your hair out, trying to find the perfect present.  Or you could give a compliment, your time or your attention and be totally confident that it’s something wanted AND appreciated.

After all, isn’t that what we all want (and deserve) …?