Like most of us, I also face the dilemma of choosing the right kind of gift for someone very often. Not because of the consideration of the cost involved alone, but also because of two other more important factors.
Essentially, a Gift is something for 'giving' without any consideration for return; it is meant to be free. But again, that is hard unrealistic theory only. In reality, we all expect reciprocation in return of a gift - may be not in kind or cash, may be only in terms of love or respect or may simply be the glowing smile on the face of the recipient or the momentary glint in the eyes . Sometimes, the fact that the gift is likely to fulfill one of the many needs of the person getting it weigh heavily in favour of a particular gift. But, return we do expect. When we expect return, the selection of gift is also bound to be guided by that consideration.
The other factor is the recipient of the gift. There is no point giving a camera to a blind person, or a book to a illiterate snob. Me and my wife - we have spend hours at times to zero down on the most suitable gift for someone we really love and really care for. Because, we know, a small hint of dissatisfaction or rejection on the face of that person after receiving the gift would spell hell for both of us. But, when it comes to people we actually do not care for much, it takes hardly a minute to decide on the gift. That, despite the fact that our tradition says 'donation to the unworthy is a sin'!
It is very difficult to choose the right kind of a gift for the right kind of a person because of these two overwhelming factors. Is the person fit for the gift? Or is the gift right for the person? When we fail to decide, we opt for money as gift. Let the person know his worth for us and also let him/her decide on what is right for him/her. That way we escape from the sin and get the privilege of believing that our money is being put to the most correct use. A simple solution, isn't it?
P.S. The banks have made our dilemma much easier to overcome this Diwali. They have invented what they call a 'Gift card'. A small piece of plastic wherein the chosen amount of money is embedded. The recipient can use it as a debit card or pre-paid credit card. Wonderful!