Kundan Ahuja, 21, loves gifts like any of us but over the years he’s realised that even his closest people don’t really know what to gift him. “I put in a lot of effort while buying someone a gift and I’m sure others do the same, but it doesn’t always work out," said Ahuja who works with his family business in Raipur. “And especially during festivals because everyone goes to the same markets, buys the same or similar products." Ahuja said his parents do the same. They call the dry fruit vendor and place a bulk order. “I think we don’t realise how much we don’t need all of this. I remember there was this one time during Diwali we got a vase from someone and it was the ugliest vase I have ever seen. So maybe what’s good for you isn’t for me," added Ahuja.

He finds it safe to give gift cards because it allows the recipients to buy a product of their own choice instead of settling with something which they’d never use. “When you are gifting to someone, I believe it is important that it has some personal value," said Ahuja. 

As a norm people usually exchange sweets and dry fruits because that's a part of Indian culture but it’s important to understand that with changing times and evolving tastes, looking for alternatives is imperative. “If everyone is giving me dry fruits, how many of them am I going to eat? And which person eats so many sweets? It’s a mere waste of money," added Ahuja. 

We give you some gifting ideas which will not only help you avoid burning a hole in your pocket but also make your gifts more worthy.

Gifting during Diwali has been a trend with most companies. However, gone are the days when people would appreciate a box full of assorted sweets. Digital gift cards and vouchers have evolved the conventional corporate gifting trends. “There is certainly greater emphasis on innovative gifting options rather than the traditional ones which hardly bring much joy to anyone anymore. A lot of companies are now gifting experiences to their employees and other stakeholders around Diwali," said Arvind Prabhakar, chief executive officer, GyFTR.com, a peer-to-peer gifting platform. “This is why vouchers of brands such as BookMyShow, MakeMyTrip and Goomo etc. are catching up in a big way," he added.

Companies are refraining from giving chocolate and sweets hampers to employees stating health reasons. “They feel that it is their moral responsibility to promote healthy eating habits and during the festive period the shelf life and logistical rush might not make these traditional gifts as most sought after rewards anymore," said Ashok Kumar Reddy, founder of GrabOn, an online coupons marketplace.

Gift cards could work well for you if you are unsure about what you want to gift. While they help convey your message of appreciation, they also offer choice and flexibility to the recipient. You also save on the packaging costs and the time you would invest into looking for the right goodies. 

You could also present gift cards that suit a person’s taste. For instance, if a friend likes travelling, you could give her a gift card from one of the travel companies.

If you are planning to gift your parents, siblings or any other close relative, and want to make sure the gift is useful for them in the long term, investing in financial products can be a lot more meaningful.

Investing a lump sum in a diversified equity fund is a great option because the return after some years will most likely outperform that from other products. However, if you’re risk averse and want to make sure your investment gives a fixed return to the recipient, you could also invest in a bank FD in the recipient’s name. Make sure you understand the tax implication on you and the recipient before gifting the financial product. “Between blood relatives there is no tax implication but for others 50,000 is the maximum limit you can gift without having any tax implication," said Shweta Jain, certified financial planner, CEO and founder, Investography. “Grandparents can invest in mutual funds but the limit for each instalment is 50,000 to avoid tax implication." Gifting gold or silver is the next best option as the value of these commodities appreciate over time and are easy to liquidate.

Though most domestic helps look forward to monetary rewards during Diwali, it is a good idea to go out of your way to educate them financially. Nisreen Mamaji, certified financial planner and founder, MoneyWorks Financial Advisors, said she assists her house help and apartment security staff with opening bank accounts, applying for PAN cards, and investing in mutual fund SIPs. Giving them some bonus in the form of cash as well as helping them in other ways is a great way to uplift them financially. “If you really want to help them, you can do a one-time investment in their name or pay for their insurance. If this is not possible, there are policies by the government which our house helpers are usually unaware of. You can educate them about such policies," said Jain. Sukanya Samriddhi and National Family Benefits Scheme are a few examples. 

You could also educate their children by sponsoring their school or tuition fees. They may not appreciate this move at the outset but you can help them understand the importance of educating their child and how it will pay in the future because there is no better gift than the gift of education.

Giving gifts to others is far more difficult than it appears. Quite often, it becomes a competition because you want to either match the monetary value of the gift you’ve received or exceed the value.

If you wish to refrain from shelling out a lot and yet give your gifts a personal touch, do-it-yourself (DIY) goodies are a great option. Paint and decorate a few lamps, or a wall hanging which can carry candle lights, or some scented candles. There are hundreds of DIY items you can create if you’ve made up your mind. For instance, if you have a skill for art, you can gift a painting or if you make good images, you can present a framed photo. By doing this, you not only save money but also make the recipient feel guilty for passing it on which means they will use it at some point. 

People, especially millennials, don’t appreciate hand-me-downs or gifts that are of no use to them. Be smart about what you gift others. And maybe you won't get that ugly vase again. 

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