To gift or not to gift?

Saturday February 8 2014

An Indian sales girl arranges stuffed toys at a gift shop in Ahmedabad on February 11, 2011 ahead of Valentine's Day. As Valentine's Day approaches, Indian shopkeepers exhibit a variety of gifts which includes chocolates, artificial flowers, greeting cards and a lot of gift articles. Valentine's Day is celebrated on every February 14. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY

An Indian sales girl arranges stuffed toys at a gift shop in Ahmedabad on February 11, 2011 ahead of Valentine's Day. As Valentine's Day approaches, Indian shopkeepers exhibit a variety of gifts which includes chocolates, artificial flowers, greeting cards and a lot of gift articles. Valentine's Day is celebrated on every February 14. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY 

“I really hope my partner will not send me another bunch of flowers this Valentines',” says Lucy Koech. “They’re boring, yet he has been sending them every Valentine’s for the past three years that we’ve dated.”

Well, it is that time of the year again when Cupid turns the town red and among many women, flower gifts are among the gifts being considered too cliché.

In fact, so boring among women have flowers become that the image consultants we spoke to are asking men to stay away from them this Valentine’s.

According to Robert Burale, an image consultant with the Nairobi-based RB Company, men should avoid flowers because they are too predictable.

A study conducted by Exquisite Gift Baskets in the UK resonates with Robert. The study reports that only four percent of women would want to receive flowers on Valentine’s Day next Friday.

Nonetheless, if the findings of a previous survey by Ipsos Synovate on the gifts Kenyan men give during Valentine’s Day is anything to go by, many Kenyan women will be receiving bunches and bunches of roses.

According to the study, 41 per cent of Kenyan men will buy flowers for their Valentine, 28 percent will surprise their women with new clothes while only 11 per cent of men will take their partners out for dinner.

BOUQUET ORDERS

A spot check by Saturday Magazine with numerous flower shops predictably reveals that orders for bouquets have been trickling in. Similarly, assorted gift hampers have been flying off the shelves as Valentine’s Day inches closer.

According to Susan Wandia of Wishes Gift Shops located at the Yaya Centre, souvenir mugs, branded picture frames, teddy bears and cards have been flying off the shelves in the days leading to Valentine’s.

According to the owner of Purpink Gift Shop in Nairobi, Aryton Bett, orders of chocolate bars, wine, perfume and small teddy gift hampers have been flowing in.

However, these may not be the gifts that women want. Lucy, for instance, wishes that at the very least, her partner would get her a dress. “A dress and some really nice shoes would do the trick for me,” she says. “Chocolates bars and wine are an effortless routine.”

In a survey of 1,000 women conducted by the UK marketing website NetVoucherCodes, many women feel the same.

Moreover, the women in the study list ill-fitting and unflattering panties, cheap perfume, tacky, cheap jewelry and cuddly toys as some of the gifts they don’t want to receive from their partners. And then there are some thoughtless and just plain embarrassing gifts.

THOUGHTLESS PRESENTS

Take Joyce Kui, a 32-year-old public relations officer. Last year, she received a pair of oversized akala shoes from her partner. “He gave me the box at the Ambassador bus stop and asked me to open it.

I did and everyone burst out laughing. I was irritated beyond measure.” In October, the two lovebirds broke up. Faustina Achieng’ on the other hand says that her boyfriend has already rolled out an awful gift for her this year: an ‘all-you-can-eat’ hotel gift voucher.

“I’ve been exercising as I try to lose weight and then he brings me this,” she says. “What does this food voucher imply?”

According to Philomena Kasaya, a 32-year-old marketing executive, an ideal Valentine’s gift for her should be in equal proportion to her worth and class.

“Valentine’s Day is a chance for our men to leave a mark. An ideal gift for me would be a trip to Zanzibar or Seychelles, not Mombasa. I can get there by myself,” she says. “Let him not wait till our honeymoon to take me there.”

LEAVE AN IMPRESSION

Priscilla Aswani on the other hand says she would want her man to upgrade her car. “Getting new car keys will leave an impression from February 14 onwards.

A new ride is something I’ll use and something that will always remind me where and why it came,” she says. Interestingly, Joyce Kui says she wishes her partner had asked her to meet him at the Ministry of Lands and given her a title deed to a small plot as a gift.

“A piece of land would be an asset that would later be of benefit to our family if we got married,” she says.

Ironically, many men buy Valentine’s gifts to remain on good terms with their women. “It’s a routine that you have to follow even if you don’t know why it exists,” says Daniel Khaemba, 36.

Jackson Tanui on the other hand says that a man will only put effort in a gift if he is attempting to woo the lady. “If she’s a long time partner, I’ll just make an order and go with what’s available.”

A study conducted by Harvard Business School, Boston, resonates with Jackson’s sentiments. According to the study single women are more likely to receive expensive gifts from their male partners than married women are from their married spouses.

However, to some women, Valentine’s Day does not carry any meaning. “It does not affect how I view my partner or how I intimately relate with him,” says Maylene Mutisya, 33.