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Try a different kind of gift wrapping this year: music!

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I used to think myself a grinch who hated the very act of gift-giving, but it turns out what's put me off all this time has been the rote and impersonal way we've been doing it. Most people seem to approach the holiday season in a manner that Henry Ford would be proud of: packaging up every gift in the same cheery wrapping paper and accessorizing it with a prewritten greeting card. That's perfectly fine if the point of the gift is the thing itself, but I already have many things — what I'm missing is the warm feeling of knowing someone far away is thinking of me.

Today I received my first Christmas present of the year, a full month ahead of the designated date, and I thought I'd make the unwrapping more interesting by asking the sender to name a song for me to listen to while opening it. The gift was perfect — a Dota 2 hat, scarf, and color-coded "Power Treads" socks — but what made it even sweeter was the matching song, a very NSFW Dota 2 rap. What I experienced was the aural equivalent of wrapping paper: an added sensory decoration to make the experience of receiving more pleasurable.

So now I'm passing the idea on to you. Take the time to craft a beautiful package and a personal handwritten note. Make a considered choice that will resonate with the particular person you want to compliment with your attention. And then give the whole thing some theme music! It may or may not work, depending on the cynicism of the recipient, but for me at least, it's meant that every time I hear the song I played while opening today's package, I'll be reminded of the big grin it put on my face.

People can and do buy things for each other all the time. The acquisition of new things has grown trivial in the developed world, particularly around this time of the year, but what distinguishes gifts is the thought and emotion that goes into them. An easy way to demonstrate that care and to melt chilly hearts is to simply accompany the gift with a fitting song (or, hell, even a playlist). Give it a try!

p.s. — I am not, in any way, shape, or form, endorsing singing Christmas cards. Those things can burn in Dante's deepest inferno.