Friday, November 27, 2015

How to be a Gift Giving Magician

The following article by Mr. Snapper appeared in the first issue of our joint newsletter, Snapperama. For more content like this, exclusive photos, projects, and performance dates, subscribe to the newsletter at

How to be a Gift Giving Magician 

by Mr. Snapper

Of gift giving it is often said, “It’s the thought that matters.” Usually it is said in a conciliatory tone after some token of affection has fallen flat, but it is nevertheless a holiday truism. The more thought you put into your gift giving, the greater the reward, but even a little bit of consideration can up your game. Sit back while Mr. Snapper tells you how to turn even the smallest trinket into a big emotional payoff for your loved ones.

The secret is narrative. Politicians, priests, and other assorted performance artists have long since known that hard facts and figures are nothing compared to a good yarn. Our monkey brains are fueled by storytelling. It runs through our veins. By giving a gift that tells a story, you tap into a deep evolutionary well.

And what story should you tell with your gift? That all depends on whom you are giving it to, and herein lies the application of thought.

What do you know about this person?

What do you know about their past? Their childhood, their college-age aspirations, etc. What do you know about their present? Current interests, problems, etc. What do you know about their future? What goals are they working towards, etc.

Make a list of what you know. Just making this list, you should already have a couple of ideas sparking off. You can take a couple of the items on your list -- say, something from their past and something from their future -- and triangulate on a gift that will knock their stockings off.
I’m going to give you an example from the lives of the Snappers. Red grew up reading the Frances series of children’s books by Russell Hoban. Red is also studying French. I happen to know that when learning a new language, it can be helpful to find and read children’s books written in that language. After all, the vocabulary is simple, accompanied by pictures, and it’s how children actually learn to read their first language.

And thus, I went on the hunt for a French language version of the Frances books and eventually found Bonne nuit, Adele!,  the French version of Bedtime for Frances. There is a certain utility to this gift. I like gifts that can be used. The gift becomes a ready reminder of you, the gift-giver, and how much you dote upon the receiver.

Just make sure to keep your process a big secret. When you put this much thought and effort into gift giving you are literally making magic happen. And a magician never reveals the trick.