Gift of Love

Gifts are more than mere tokens of affection. They make a statement, not just about your love, affection and commitment, but your personality as well

Smiling coupleSome gifts have the power to effect change, to cement ties and make relationships last a lifetime. If you're looking for a gift that is carved in the language of the heart, then all you need is a little thought and ingenuity.

Who can resist those gaily-wrapped chocolate treats, the vibrant heart-shaped helium balloons, the saccharine sweet sentimental cards or the cute fuzzy teddy bears that display such endearing notes on their tummies? We would hardly be human if we weren't swayed by such frivolous gifts now and then. But if you were to be realistic [read brutally honest], your perception will tell you that these gifts only bring momentary happiness. Soon, the glittery card or heart-shaped candy box will find a place in a remote corner of your cupboard, a corner that hasn't seen the light of day in a long time.

If you want to make this Valentine's Day a truly special occasion for your loved ones, here are some ideas that are guaranteed to make significant and lasting impact with their special emotional appeal.

Health hampers: There's nothing like a basket full of good health to cheer someone up. An ideal gift for colleagues and elderly parents, assembling your own health hamper is a fairly simple process that reflects a great deal of thoughtfulness.

Choose a large wicker or cane basket and fill it with food items that you feel the recipient would enjoy. Be sure to include a variety of items ranging from soups, flavoured teas, jams and juices to an assortment of cheese and bread. If the recipient happens to be diabetic, then tailor the hamper accordingly with special diabetic jam, sugar-free desserts and low-calorie, low-fat biscuits. Choosing just the right items that you know the recipient would prefer can make your hamper highly personal and also reinforce the fact that their good health is always your priority.

Spa visit or massage: Stress is an integral part of the 21st century workplace. Even inter-personal relationships don't have the laidback ease of yesteryears. In this context, a gift certificate from a reputed spa can be a wholesome and timely gift. This too can be highly personalised. For instance, if your favourite uncle or aunt suffers from intense back pain in his/her high-profile job, then the gift of a back and neck massage from a local spa/beauty parlour would do them a world of good. Be sure to choose the Swedish massage, a treatment that is suitable for all body types and age groups.

A sports massage would work well for athletics. A pedicure, head massage, and facial would work well as de-stressors too; both men and women can enjoy its rejuvenating effects.

Health holiday: If you're in the mood to splurge this year, take your family on a "health holiday", where the emphasis is not so much on what you can see and do, but on how you can relax and detox. You can have a special diet catered to beforehand. Make sure you spend plenty of time outdoors together. Sit by a waterfall and sip steaming tulsi tea and pack an exciting picnic basket as you trek through a wooded forestland. A health holiday can be a perfect gift for two as well as ideal for the whole family. It can be a simple break, free from the crass commercialism of a resort holiday.

Master health check-up: It is now possible to purchase a master check-up at a reputed hospital through means of a gift certificate. One of the latest in practical health gifts, this can set you back by as much as Rs 10,000-15,000, but rest assured that money invested on health is money well-spent. Because of the cost factor, this would make an ideal gift for a close family member, be it an aging parent who refuses to get a check-up or a sibling who is just too busy to go. Your investing money in this in advance will work as an incentive to get them moving and focusing more on their health. This is especially timely if the recipient is turning 30 or hasn't had a health check-up.

Spice rack: Know someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes? This isn't unusual as diabetes continues to be one of the world's most rampant diseases [especially considering the shocking spread of this malaise in India]. It is natural for a newly-diagnosed diabetic to crave sugar. No supplement could possibly give food the same flavour. Taking this craving seriously, gifting the person a spice rack chock-full of fresh spices would be a thoughtful gesture. Spices are healthy and lend to food a deeply rich, succulent taste. It will also help them make the transition to sugar-free food easier.

Nostalgia: There's no doubt about it. Memories make the best gifts. They're unique because they capture moments in time that are very private and in this, they bind the giver and receiver in a communion of love.

There are many ways that you can set about gifting memories to friends and family. You can sift through old yellowing photographs and create a scrapbook with them. If you're particularly artistic, decorate your scrapbook with dried leaves and flowers. Be sure that the scrap book documents all the momentous occasions in your loved one's life - anniversaries, the birth of babies, vacations spent in togetherness, milestone events such as those taken outside an important conference or business meeting. You can also frame and gift photos that are particularly note-worthy such as the gap-toothed smile of the baby of the family or a moment of spontaneous laughter and sparkling joy. If you're in a creative bent of mind, fashion your own frames from rich wood or eco-friendly bamboo.

You can also update any dinosaur technology that might hold your memories captive - such as old VCR tapes. These can be converted into DVD's. Invite the family over for an evening of butter-free popcorn and home videos.

Health insurance: An often neglected aspect of personal care, health insurance is crucial in today's world. An insurance policy can therefore make a wise and caring gift that conveys the message of foresight and planning. Be sure to explore the various policies available in the market today and select one that is most suited to your recipient's needs, based on criteria such as their age, mindset and lifestyle.

The gift of time: Have you always dreamed of splurging on a vacation for two at an exotic island along the Caribbean coast? Ironically, it is human nature to yearn for things that are beyond our reach while being blinded to blessings in our backyard. You don't need an exotic holiday to clasp hands and watch the sun sink into the clouds. Remember, the brilliant palette of the sky can be viewed just as well from a simple tiled terrace! The gift of time is the most precious investment that guarantees tremendous returns, so schedule togetherness time and plan fun outings and particular activities with family and friends on holidays and weekends. Discussing the arrangements in advance will make your plans more concrete.

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Kamala Thiagarajan
Kamala Thiagarajan is a Madurai-based journalist. Her writing interests encompass a host of genres including travel, health, entertainment and lifestyle. She is a full-time freelance journalist who works from her home in Madurai, South India. With ten years of experience in journalism, she has over four hundred articles in print in leading magazines across the globe. Her writing spans a variety of travel, health, entertainment and lifestyle features read by a diverse audience in over seven count

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