The Perfect Gift: Does mindfulness matter?

December 2, 2014

By: Wayne Baker

Originally posted on

Do you wait until the last minute to decide what to buy for holiday gifts? Or, have you been thinking about it for months, carefully compiling your list of just the right gifts for just the right people?

The second approach requires mindfulness. I don’t mean the traditional Buddhist practice (though that might help). Rather, I’m referring to being thoughtful about gift giving.

“Being mindful about gift giving,” writes psychologist Marilyn Price-Mitchell, “means paying attention to the whys behind the gift, looking anew at how we give, and questioning preconceived or traditional ideas of giving. Being mindful requires us to reconsider what we think we know about giving and adapt in ways that match our family’s values.”

Price-Mitchell says we develop “giving identities” during childhood and adolescence. So, being mindful about gift giving as an adult means reflection and introspection about gift giving when we were young.

It also means being conscious to the giving identities we intentionally or unintentionally create in our children.

“Parents can help children and adolescents become more mindful about gift giving simply by encouraging them to think, voice their thoughts, and then act on them,” says Price-Mitchell. “Parents have ample opportunities to ask open-ended questions that engage children in conversations about giving.”

Are you a mindful gift giver?
What did gift giving mean when you were growing up?
What giving identities to you instill in your children?