“I love giving flowers. It is so deliciously unlasting and romantic.” May Sarton
Despite having timeless opportunities and failures, we don’t think that we have cracked the code to giving ‘the perfect gift’. To our relief, we have come to the conclusion that this gift does not exist.
With this mantra in mind, it seems like there are still a few simple rules to gift giving.
1. Giving serves a purpose.
Historically, gifts were offered to appease the gods or as a way to earn trust between tribes. In our current economic driven society, holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas have profit pushing agendas but at the end of the day, the core of gift giving is still to build trust between people. This means that while we are no longer swapping cows, gift giving still plays an important role in establishing and maintaining relationships.
2. Generosity and giving can be more satisfying than receiving.
Seeing someone’s face light up in surprise when they receive an unexpected gift can be more uplifting than receiving a gift yourself.
3. Accuracy is not the aim of the game.
The Scientific American suggests that the point of gift giving, is to exercise empathy and make the shift between your own mind and someone else’s. No matter how well (or badly) the gift fits the recipient, the point is that you tried.
Seems pretty straight forward right?
While these rules might work in theory at the core of gift giving, humans still form expectations on what they deem ‘acceptable’ as gifts for different occasions. Navigating these realms of social faux pas can become a minefield when deciding between whether to get your colleague a “Live Laugh Love” coffee mug or a book on the 101 Best Conversation Starters in the Workplace.
Gift giving becomes a risky situation when we put too much focus on ‘getting it right’. There are however, some gifts that have become socially acceptable and generally safe to give. These gifts tend to be of a perishable nature such as chocolates, candles and flowers, that either ignite the senses, look beautiful or have less focus on content and possession and more of a focus on experience.
Working at a florist, we have sent flowers for almost every life moment: birthdays, belated birthdays, anniversaries, ‘Sorry for your loss…’, ‘Will you be my girlfriend?’, ‘Congratulations on the new puppy!’.
If you can think of a reason for it, we have probably encapsulated that occasion into a bouquet.
So why are flowers such a popular gift that seem to transcend across almost every occasion?
The act of giving and receiving flowers can be extended far back into history. Anthropologists and psychologists have traced this phenomenon back so far that it has now been an engrained concept in our society.
From a psychological perspective, the physical act of giving flowers can literally alter brain chemistry. The positive feelings that you get are a result of the aroma and the vibrant colours that you see and their effect on the brain. This can boost mood, creativity and reduce stress. The connection between romance and giving flowers makes sense when you consider how both experiences can ignite senses and emotions.
That’s not to say that flowers are for everyone.
For people with allergies, giving flowers are a sensory nightmare and could mean sneezing and wheezing for the rest of their day. Some specific flowers are seen as culturally inappropriate for certain occasions. In certain Asian cultures, white chrysanthemums represent death and no matter how stunning they looked in that arrangement you made, as we learnt quite quickly – they will be promptly removed. Similarly, for some European countries, violet coloured flowers are generally presented at funerals and would be unacceptable for the birth of a new baby.
Whilst it may not have always been the case in the past, flowers are no longer just an acceptable gift for women. This is a social construct that is rightfully lessening over time. As society progresses and gender lines blur, so do the lines between products that are considered masculine or feminine. In our day and age, a man can enjoy the soft and elegant beauty of a rose as much as any woman and be applauded for his appreciation for its beauty.
At the end of the day, we think if we could all live our life giving a little more than receiving than we are on the right track to being a kinder and happier society.
And as a florist, we have spent most of our careers perfecting the art of giving, so next time you find yourself reaching for that new Michael Bublé album to give to your BFF, maybe reach for the phone and give us a call instead.
Team Austin Bloom x
Phone: (08) 7226 3287