It’s not just about finding a gift – it’s about finding the right one.
Seth*, Ping*, and I have been friends for 10 years. Yet when Seth’s birthday was coming up, neither Ping nor I knew what to get for him.
I guess you could call us terrible friends.
Both Ping and I thought about all the past birthday gifts we got for Seth, seeing if there’s a pattern to all of it that we could get some form of ‘inspiration’ from. And we realised that…
Most of us celebrate birthdays of family and friends by buying them dinner
That’s exactly what Ping and I realised – we spent the last 10 years treating each other to birthday dinners or drinks.
The same applies to birthdays of family members and special occasions like Father’s or Mother’s Day. My siblings and I would usually bring our parents out for dinner; and my parents gave us angpows for our birthdays the moment we ‘grew up’ because they didn’t know what to get us anymore.
And that’s one of the main reasons why the practice of gift-giving is in decline. We worry about getting people something they may not like or use, which will result in the gift either gathering dust on the shelves… or being regifted to someone else.
But since everyone needs money or food, those seem to be the safest bet.
It’s not easy to find the perfect gift – thankfully there are ‘specialists’ who do just that
Not wanting to settle for just another birthday dinner for Seth, Ping and I decided to get him a good old birthday gift.
That’s when I suggested that we engage a gift-giving service to do that for us. A friend of mine had just started a business called Souly that “specialises in curating gifts”, in which a team of Creative Gift Designers will curate the perfect present for anyone and any type of occasion.
I got a prompt reply from one of Souly’s Gift Designers after dropping them a message via their WhatsApp business number. The Designer sent me a list of questions to find out more about Seth’s hobbies and personality, information which can help him find a suitable gift for Seth.
It didn’t take him long to come back with suggestions, one of which was a package that included an electric shaver and chocolate cookies. Ping and I unanimously agreed that this is the most suitable gift, ever.
But didn’t they say that it’s the thought that counts?
While we were waiting for the Designer to come back with suggestions, Ping did ask if hiring someone to help us find a gift would make the gesture seem insincere. After all, people do say that it’s the effort that you put into sourcing a gift that makes it special.
And since we didn’t actually go gift-hunting for Seth, does that make us bad friends?
For Jacqueline Yong, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Souly, the act of entrusting a specialist with the mission to find a gift is proof that you’ve put some thought into the matter:
Getting someone to help you find a gift doesn’t make it insincere. In fact, it means that you’ve put some thought into it, because you want to make sure your recipient gets something useful and unique. And who better to entrust this mission to other than someone who specialises in this?CEO and Co-Founder of Souly Jacqueline Yong to TRP
There’s also an additional benefit in engaging a third party, who has no ties to your recipient, to do the gift-sourcing for you. We sometimes go shopping for gifts with ‘mental blocks’, which could make us second guess our choices or make us completely oblivious to an obvious option.
The latter was what Ping and I experienced. There’s honestly nothing groundbreaking about the electric shaver + chocolate cookies gift combo that our Souly Designer suggested. And yet, despite our 10 years of friendship, we somehow overlooked that a sweet tooth who’s blessed with an abundance of facial hair like Seth may actually enjoy something as simple and practical as that.
Because it’s not just about finding a gift, but finding the right gift
So did Seth enjoy his birthday present? He told us that he was pleasantly surprised to receive it.
“It’s been a while since I got an actual present,” he said.
This was one of the feedbacks I gave Jacqueline and her Co-Founder-cum-Chief Marketing Officer Steven Cheam when they asked what I thought about their service. They were really happy to hear this as that was precisely what they set out to do when they started Souly.
We realise most Malaysians have stopped giving presents, opting to buy dinners mostly. We want to revive the culture of gift-giving as we believe it’s a meaningful and joyful experience for both the giver and the recipient. It’s also a great way to show you care.CEO and Co-Founder of Souly Jacqueline Yong to TRP
Yong also emphasised that Souly’s business model is not just about finding someone a gift, but that of finding them the right gift.
So yes, I’ll probably continue to hire a ‘specialist’ to help me source gifts
It’s undeniable that Souly’s “curate, wrap, deliver” service makes gift-giving more convenient, which helps with encouraging people to continue giving presents for birthdays and other occasions.
Like what Yong said, gift-giving is a rewarding experience for both parties. Personally, I really enjoy giving presents to family and friends – and since it’s the thought that counts, I’ll get the professionals to do it so I can be sure that they’ll receive The Right Present.
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*Names changed upon request for privacy.
I have an unhealthy obsession with chocolate, gummy candy, and "Confucius says" jokes.