So, i’m not a big gift-giver, but i still buy things for people all of the time. If i see a cd someone might appreciate, or a book, or a concert ticket, i buy it and give it to the person and when they ask what they owe me i tell them not to worry about it. These are unexpected prizes that life drops into your lap with no expectations or suppositions attached. Gifts, however, are awkward. Gifts require perfect amounts of attention, and people are allowed to be disappointed when they are expecting something, and then there is the moment. I hate the moment – the squinty-eyes smiling happy crinkly moment where both of you have said thank you and hugged and are then standing there with the gift between you like a UN mediator. Does the giver talk about how they chose it? Does the receiver gush more about how perfect the color is? Or, do you both stand there and crinkle until someone backs down.
I think it’s sortof like a tiny war… trying to maneuver the other person into saying their piece so that you can safely and predictably respond, ending the silence allowing you to escape. The worst is ambushing someone with a gift that was due to them at a time they weren’t expecting, which leaves you with that momentary suprise-party spike in adrenaline based anticipation and then denoument when you realize it’s just a tiny blip on your flatline daily radar and that (the screen / your heart) will settle back to normal in a moment or two.
Or, if you like to avoid para-military diplomacism in the realm of unexpected presents, you can just throw little things at people all of the time. More adlibbing, less stress, and you get much better karma for doing a undeserved good deed than you do for begrudgingly throwing money into a gift-shaped hole in someone’s life.