Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite shows for many reasons, but especially because of Leslie Knope. For all of you that live under a rock, Leslie Knope is a waffle-obsessed Parks and Rec employee that succeeds in everything she does- including gift giving. Gift giving in an essential skill to master for everyone over the age of 12 with at least one other human being in their life. Birthdays, Christmas, and Anniversaries come around every once in awhile so prepare now by learning how to be the Leslie Knope of gift giving.
The art gift giving is not a “one size fits all” approach, rather it varies from person to person. I could get my best friend a sign that says “Eat, Laugh, Fart” but I’m pretty sure if I gave that to my boss they would say “Eat, Laugh, Quit.” The important thing to remember about gift giving is not the “what” but the “why.” You’re not giving someone a present to win points or fulfill an obligation, you’re doing it to affirm them as a person. As such, you gift should say “I spent at least two solid minutes thinking about you and your interests.” Note: Unless your friend is on Food Network, steer clear of all appliances. Especially blenders because all they say is “I was on clearance near the register.”
Step 2: If you don’t know what someone likes, listen. People love to talk about things they like whether it’s a favorite sports team or even dessert. If you know someone’s birthday is coming up, make an extra effort to listen to their interests so you can buy a gift that somehow relates. It doesn’t have to be expensive, they’ll just be touched that you took the time to remember a small detail about them.
Which brings me to my next point: In the words of Michael Scott, “Keep it simple stupid.” The biggest mistake someone can make is spending a bunch of money on a gift that means nothing. Sure it’s great to get expensive presents, but the greatest gifts I’ve ever received were under $10. A prime example of this is Jim Halpert from The Office. Yes another TV reference, get over it. People are still talking about the teapot full of insides jokes that Jim gave Pam in the season 2 Christmas episode. There’s nothing extraordinary about a teapot but the thought that went into each aspect of the present showed how much Jim knew about and cared for Pam... #Goals. Helpful tip: keep a running list of inside jokes that you share with friends. It will help you brainstorm gift ideas and it’s fun to look back on every once in awhile.
The last thing to remember is that the phrase “it’s the thought that counts” is completely accurate. A present may not turn out exactly right or be received with tears of joy. That’s okay. The important thing is to spend time thinking about how to affirm the person you’re getting the present for, even if it’s in small ways. Never underestimate the power of a homemade gift, although I would not recommend coloring your dad a picture for Father’s Day (unless you’re five, in which case why are you reading this article?). Forget the stress and go be the Leslie Knope of gift giving.