I get A LOT of people that equate “gifting” with “bartering” and that is not correct! This is one of my favorite myths to dispel when educating people on festivals. Think of gifting as PAYING IT FORWARD. You’re not trading for something you need/want. Example: you are out away from your campsite and the sun is setting fast. A complete stranger stops you because they notice you don’t have a light on you. You watch them break open a pack of glow necklaces and cerimoniouly bestow one you. Fast forward through the hugs hello and small talk about it getting dark to you walking off into the last beams of light with pink & green neon around your neck. That feeling of sparkle magic from those glow necklaces will radiate past that one person in a ripple effect that creates the overall experience of awesome that is a festival.
In certain events, such as Burning Man, where gifting is one of the main principles, there are sayings like “the playa provides” that very accurately sums up the concept. Example: You are out waiting for the sunrise at the trash fence. You think to yourself “I wish I had something to eat” as you hear your tummy rumble. Two minutes later, some guy walks up and introduces himself as Scotty Biscotti. He asks you if you would like one as he holds out a Tupperware full of the Italian coffee cookie. Yes…the universe just read your mind and fucking DELIVERED (*True Story: BM 2014) Coincidence, probably, but still magical all the same!!!
Typically, I bring a set “gift” where ever I go, including the default world, which is a sticker. Also, I end up gifting random items as needed. Other classic gifts include: cigarettes, LED finger lights, something cold to drink. Asking people I know that are deep in their party, “when is the last time you had water?” as I’m handing them my full Nalgene bottle. Sometimes it’s random things like a safety pin, nail file, hand sanitizer, Advil, Gum…the list goes on! Some people have a particular craft that they can gift, like jewelry they made, painting people’s faces, fire dancing or even giving massages. The point of gifting is that it feels good and in the end the best things in life are free.