How to Give a Goat

By Georgia Craib, 20/12/2012

The best gift I think I ever gave was a good six years ago and it was for my dad.

I hold this up as the best because it made him cry and smile simultaneously.

What was this magical completely awesome gift I hear you ask- where can I give the gift that makes grown men weep with joy?

Well… I made a semi life sized paper mache goat; complete with furry tail, googly eyes and the obligatory humorously cartoon genital, it didn’t fit under the tree and its back left leg was a good inch to short and strangely bulbous… to the extent that when our family cat went and rubbed herself against it, it would topple over*.

You’re all going ‘ah isn’t that sweet; she must have done it at school’ – nope! I was 19 years old a fully grown adult. I just knew my Dad would like it better that way.

The real reason for making the goat was that I had actually bought a ‘real’ goat for someone who needed one (a wonderful Oxfam campaign a few years back**) and so have present under the tree I made a humorous one for a man that didn’t. For my dad it was the best gift he had been given. I knew that of course, which was why I was so chuffed, even though my goat looked a little, lets say, unique.

I put the success of the goat, and the art of giving good presents in general, down to two things- consideration and sacrifice.

A consideration of the person, in this case my Dad, hippy at heart with a unique brand of humor that often tests the borders of respectability. A man that every year is impossible to buy for because if he needs it, he buys it, and if he doesn’t need it, he doesn’t want it. To crack consideration on a gift you need to create a value far beyond its actual monetary worth.

The Oxfam goat gave consideration.

The second is sacrifice; this I think more than ever, is the more over-looked part of giving, but just as, if not more important. Be it money, be it time, be it skill, be it all of the above; a good gift means you have given yourself, as a finite resource, to the person you are giving the gift to. To show them what they’re worth to you.

The paper-mache goat gave sacrifice, in all its crazy wonky glory (It took a serious amount of time and grafting).

I have come to consider these two things as my internal gift giving ‘soft-metrics of success’ as it were. Not to say it makes finding gifts for everyone easier – it does however stop me working on a tick box or monetary value system that I see others do when they Christmas shop.

Imagine of you stopped considering your marketing in terms of ROI, but instead thought that what you put out into the world you consider as a gift to your prospective consumers.

First you wouldn’t have ‘consumers’. You would need to have a more intimate understanding about who they are and what makes them tick.

Second you would have to understand your sacrifice. The effort you have put in to make what you are giving into something worth receiving.

Way back in 2010, before I started at eatbigfish, Liv talked to Naresh Ramchandani from Do the Green Thing about just this attitude to creating content, here he is again…

Written down it all seems pretty obvious, but as I don’t feel I’ve been given the gift of a goat in a while I thought it was worth mentioning.

Merry Christmas all!


*I know you all wish to see the goat- sadly we have lost the photographic evidence… so it will have to be left to your imagination.

**If you would like to give the gift of a Oxfam goat please go here.

Image Thumbnail – from “GOAT” Print Ad for Oxfam Gift Aid by Mccann-erickson

3 Responses to “How to Give a Goat”

  1. Thon Brocket says:

    Goats = aggressive overgrazing, soil erosion, desertification, poverty, starvation.

    Real bad idea for a gift.

  2. Helen Redstone says:

    That’s an interesting point of view, i haven’t heard that before. Oxfam seem pretty convinced otherwise on their website –

    As a consumer I won’t pretend to be an expert on what someone in Africa would need to help them out, that’s why I rely on experts at charities to make those decisions for me. Perhaps you can point us to a better option?

  3. Thon Brocket says:

    Here’s Matthew Parris’s Spectator article from a while back (couldn’t find the original on the Spec site). Parris, like me, is African-born, and he knows about goats and their offences.