When I got married, I received numerous sets of glass dinnerware, silverware, table sets, cookware and some kitchen appliances. Thirteen years later, these are lying unused, carefully packed and stored away, with the notion that they will be used some day.
A week ago, I attended the wedding ceremony of a distant family relation. Both bride and groom are established medical professionals, practicing in well known medical institutions in India. I noticed that those who lined up to greet the couple, were slipping little white envelopes into the bride’s hand — and the bride would pass these on to a close relative standing in the wings.
Now weddings are a big fat affair in India — in fact families spend exorbitantly and lavishly during these auspicious occasions. I’ve heard about people gifting houses and BMWs in India — not surprising since we have many crorepatis, millionaires and billionaires in a country where, ironically, half the population is below the poverty line.
New gifting ideas
I think there are more rational gifting ideas, rather than hard cash, glassware and things that are destined for the attic. In fact, I am surprised that entrepreneurs in India did not think about this 10 years ago.
Idea #1: Wishlists
The couple can make a list of things they would require for their new home, and this list can be deposited at the check-in counter of a multi-brand retail store (not displayed on a notice board). The invitation card (usually issued a month in advance) could mention the name and address of the store. And the guests could visit this store and ask for the wishlist. They could purchase one of the items and even have it delivered to the couple’s home on the wedding day. The store manager could then strike out the item from that list, to avoid a repeat gift. This is a common practice in Western countries.
Idea #2: Insurance and Health policies
Insurance is really about covering risks and should be viewed as a long-term investment. You can gift the couple an insurance policy by paying a one-time premium. In 2011, actor Ranbir Kapoor bought an insurance policy for his sister Riddhima Kapoor Sahni’s baby girl, who was born in Delhi — thus securing her future.
Idea #3 Gift vouchers and Gift cards
I have fond memories of the Akbarallys and Shoppers Stop gift vouchers. In fact, whenever I received these, I would rush to the store the very next day, redeem these, and choose my gift. Today we have scratch cards and gift vouchers, but they are marketing instruments that lure you to buy things you do not really need.
With online retail taking off now, I see online stores like Flipkart and others now offering gift cards. Great!
When I visited the US last year, I saw iTunes gift cards in Walgreens and 7Eleven convenience stores.
Why can’t we have the same in our D-marts and Kirana shops?
Idea #4 Gift a holiday
Summer vacation is fast approaching and I see many ads from Travel Companies in the local newspapers. How about a scheme where we can offer the couple holiday coupons to various destinations? And these could be redeemed at any time within the first year of marriage.
Idea #5 Hobbies and Passions
Hobbies and DIY (do-it-yourself) are not such a big deal in India. In our wild pursuit for engineering and management degrees, and with high career aspirations, we have little time for hobbies. But we all have dreams and passions.
Say you always wanted to be a pilot or DJ or singer or a teacher, but it was not in your destiny. How about gifting this experience to someone you love? Let him be a DJ or singer for a day. Take him/her out to a Karaoke bar or ask your DJ friends to give your relative a crash course — and let him spin a track at the nightclub! Arrange for a session in skydiving or scuba diving. Take him/her rafting on the rapids. Believe me it is a real joy to experience something you always wanted to do!
I’m seeing this happening with kids at Kidzania at R-Mall in Mumbai.
Idea #6 Magazine and DVD subscriptions
Make a note of the magazines and movies that your relative relishes. Then gift a subscription to those magazines. You could also buy them an annual subscription for DVD rentals. I think a subscription to Readers Digest, Lonely Planet, Time, or National Geographic (to name a few) would be greatly appreciated.
Do you have any other gifting ideas? I’d love to hear from you.