I hate gift giving. 

I mean, I love it when I know what to give but that’s rarely the case. 

Thankfully, in fiction, character’s will like what we tell them to like. But a powerful gift within the narrative requieres a bit more than for the character to like it. So here’s a couple of ideas to help: 

1.- Make it something useful. Show your character having a recurring problem, preferably something unimportant, something trivial. Don’t show them complaining, show their frustration through smaller details such as them taking a deep breath, rubbing their nose or pausing for just a second mid-task. 

This shows two important details on part of the gift giver: them paying attention to notice the problem and them finding a solution. 

Attentiveness plus problem solving. Meaningful no matter how minor. 

2.- Make it something they like, but something they’ve bought up only passingly before. If it’s something they love and go on about, anybody could get the right gift. Make it a small detail, maybe they’re at a farm in an early chapter and the receiver mentions their favourite animal, towards the end of the book the gift givers gets a plush, a figurine or a necklace with the animal. 

Same as before, attentiveness. Just make sure it doesn’t happen too soon, if the information is still fresh the reader will be like: “Well, you literally just bought that up to make this gift meaningful.” And they might be right, but give them time to forget and then be reminded and it’s like: “Oh! They remembered!” 

I did a whole post dedicated to giving time for things to sit, it’s a thing. 

3.- Make it hard. Hard to find. If they make it themselves, hard to make. Maybe they need to get the materials, hard to collect materials for? You ever heard of the McGuffin trope? Some people say it’s bad writing, personally, I believe it depends. But it’s the idea that the item doesn’t matter, it’s just an excuse for the actions to get it. Look at the gift like a McGuffin. But if you want it to be more meaningful, combine it with one of the previous points. 

4.- Maybe the gift isn’t the important part, maybe it’s the way it’s wrapped, with her favourite colour wrapping paper, maybe it’s the hand written note with a desperate attempt at cursive because, “You’re hand writing is so pretty, I thought it must matter to you.” Perhaps it a hand-made card that goes with it. Perhaps they’re separated for a mission but the gift givers sneaks away and risks a lot to get the gift to the receiver despite it all. (This could also end in a big argument but that’s up to you). 

Remember sometimes the point of a gift isn’t the gift but the situation surrounding it. 

5.- Make it something important to the gift giver. This is a pretty common trope but when properly established it still gets me every time. This is the whole, “Here, take my dead mother’s necklace.” “But it means so much to you!” “But I’d rather you have it!” Trope. I’m a sucker for it. 

Also, it doesn’t always have to come from the gifter. I have a scene way later on in my series where the love interest actually gives my main character something (not going to say what, that would be a spoiler) that he got from her father that once belonged ot her mother. It’s similar because the father gives it up so she can have it, but then it comes from the love interest. I’m not sure if this makes sense without context but obviously I don’t want to spoil like, final book scenes. But the idea is, there can be other characters involved in this, other than the two giver and receiver. 

6.- Maybe it isn’t important, maybe it isn’t meaningful, maybe it become so over time. I have plenty of stupid bits of plastic that were given to me on a night out as a joke in between laughters, perhaps a baby Shark kinder egg or a pretty plastic ring. But then instead of getting rid of it, I put it away. I look back at it and smile remembering those nights. Something can be meaningless in the moment, but become meaningful just for staying around long enough. 

Extra points if the grifter dies or otherwise leaves. 

And those are my 6 tips. You can combine as you wish. Also, I used a love interest in one example, but anybody can give anybody a gift! I give gifts to my roommates, friends and family. And it’s just as important to work on the relationships that aren’t romantic as it is the romantic ones. (Unless you’re writing a romance I guess, but I only do fantasy, usually YA so, can’t really comment on that). 

As usual,  check out my book, stories I’ve written plus other social medias: here

So, with christmas coming up, how’s your gift buying going? I knows it’s not that soon, but I have exams in November so I try to start really early. I have a special box where I just put things in. 

EXTRA NOTE: I know, I know, I’ve been missing for a while. I’ve got one month at university and as always, exams, homework, chaos everywhere! I promise I’m still around, I promise I’ve got 18 drafts plus several lists of ideas. As soon as I have time I’ll get back into posting more often. I just have to prioritize school, work, paying for food and those good boring stuff! 

Also, I’ll be putting my ebook on sale sometime this December for Christmas! So, you know, if you want a gift idea for someone who likes reading YA Fantasy with dragons, look out for that!