Gift-giving during the holidays is an ancient tradition: Pagans in Ancient Rome celebrated the Winter Solstice with gifts, Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus with spiritual symbols, Hanukkah includes eight days of celebrations, and the beloved story of St. Nicholas grew into what has become a jolly event of annual consumerism — Merry Christmas!
However, as holiday traditions have developed into their own unique meanings and varying customs, it’s important to remember that they all stemmed from the same place of celebration and connection — by giving to those we love or those in need.
Year-round, we exchange tokens to express emotions like love, joy, grief, or remorse. In many ways, gift-giving is an expression of ourselves, an opportunity to capture a sentiment beyond what we can communicate using words or physicality.
Amanda Hayward, the founder of electric human, believes exchanging something tangible brings two people closer together.
“Gifts with special meaning and emotional significance spark a connection between the giver and receiver,” she says. “A gift with intention and purpose can capture the energy flowing between two people. It tells the recipient, ‘I care about you.’”
That energy is proof that we, as humans, all seek to be seen, heard, and valued. When we give to another person, we join in his or her life experiences — to not only show that we care, but to communicate what we all yearn for: a fellow cosmic traveler to remind us that we are here in this moment together — and that we matter.
This need to connect with others is fundamental to our human existence. Those concerned with aspects of health and spirituality have begun to shift their focus onto what the practice of giving gifts can contribute to our well-being.
In many ways, technology is capable of fulfilling this need and connecting people where no connection would otherwise exist — a potentially positive impact on our well-being. As technology finds its way into more and more facets of our daily lives, we often rely on it to do the work for us. We prioritize efficiency over humanity and connection, which can weaken our relationships and further isolate us. As a result, we find ourselves hungry for tangible objects or experiences that restore our emotional acumen. This connects us to our own humanity and makes us feel more alive.
Hayward points out that advancements in technology (for better or for worse) have begun to alter the process of selecting a gift for another person.
“There are more and more algorithms that save people time by claiming to find the ‘perfect’ gift for us,” she says. Some say this implies gift-giving has become just another chore or something we need to check off a to-do list, but Hayward believes it simply means people are just short on time — and not necessarily that they don’t want to find a special gift to give. “People still want to make someone feel special and let them know that they matter and are loved and appreciated.”
Despite the ways the tradition is evolving, we, as humans, feel compelled to give. So, because gift-giving is here to stay, it’s never too late to begin selecting ones with more meaningful intentions.
Here, Hayward shares with us why gift-giving is so important to our emotional well-being:
1 | It’s a unique form of expression —
Ideally, we select a present that we believe will fulfill a need or desire in the other person. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we send a message with our choice. What we select reveals a physical interpretation of what we believe the other person’s needs or desires to be.
2 | It sparks and builds a connection between the giver and recipient —
We closely associate gifts with life’s biggest obstacles and celebrations; they’re a way to acknowledge the trials and victories of the human experience. As a form of meaningful communication, gifts reinforce our connectivity to loved ones and let them know they are special to us.
3 | It makes us feel happier and improves our state of mind —
Ideally, gift-giving is selfless. But even so, it can mean big returns for the giver, such as improved feelings of social connectivity. And, because humans are social creatures, these positive feelings can contribute to our overall happiness.
4 | It gives us a sense of purpose and makes us feel more effective —
When we believe a gift has been well received, we are flooded with a sense of satisfaction. We’ve exercised our own agency in a relationship — whether it’s one that’s existed for years, or one we’d like to establish.
5 | It continues or starts a cycle of giving —
Scientists say giving releases endorphins and dopamine within our brains — natural chemicals that increase our sense of well-being. Repeating this act encourages us to give more frequently and can encourage recipients to give as well.
6 | Its greatest effects may be on ourselves —
When we present a meaningful gift, we communicate to the recipient that he or she is part of a community… even if it’s just a community of two.
electric human is a gift shop vibing on a whole new frequency. Founded in Los Angeles by creative polymath Amanda Hayward, the company was born out of her long-held belief that gift-giving sparks an electric connection capable of bringing people closer together through expressions of love, understanding, and gratitude — all fundamental elements that make us human.