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Literal Translation: A modest gift given with all one’s heart
English Equivalent: It’s the thought that counts.

The holidays are a joyful season filled with special moments shared with family. Giving gifts to loved ones is a cherished tradition, which brings to mind this proverb. The meaning is simple – it’s not the size or price of the gift, but the sincerity that counts. To illustrate, I want to remind you of a fable that has various adaptations across cultures, all with the same core message. The fable points out that a poor woman, despite giving less money than her peers, actually gave the most of all. While everyone else gave from their wealth, this woman offered all she had even though she was impoverished. Similarly, if you were to receive an ordinary gift card worth $200 and an inexpensive present that conveyed an understanding and personal connection, which one would move you? Most people would appreciate the thought that went into a personalized gift. So as you are running around purchasing presents for family and friends this holiday, remember that it’s not the price tag stamped on the front of the gift, but the sentiment behind it that counts.

Another Vietnamese proverb that shares this meaning is
“Của một đồng, công một nén.”