Ugly sweaters. Rock hard cookies. A framed picture of your Grandma. We’ve all been there. You eagerly open a gift from a cherished friend or family member and plaster a smile on your face. “A tee shirt with a silk-screened bunny on the front? How did you know I wanted one of these!” Everyone wants the gifts they give to be creative and loved; but we all know sometimes that doesn’t happen. I once gave my mother a fancy ball-point pen for her birthday. Yeah, that happened.
You can think of the list below as the no-no list. The naughty list of the gift giving world, if you will. And if you did buy something on this list for someone on your list… well, I hope you provided a gift receipt.
Plain and simple: no one likes fruitcake. And if they do actually enjoy the taste of dry bread and overly ripe fruit shaped into a loaf, they sure as hell don’t want it for a present. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with baked goods for a gift. Men especially seem to be elated with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and other goodies, but let’s not try to sneak berries into the equation.
Clothing that Doesn’t Fit from a Store you Don’t Live Near
Ah, the ultimate conundrum. The obscure aunt that you see once a year doesn’t realize that you a) have actually grown since you were five years old or b) are not in fact morbidly obese (despite the large number of cookies you’ve been shoveling into your mouth as you mumble “it’s the holidays!) Luckily, clothes can usually be exchanged for something you’ll wear in a size that actually fits! But then, it happens. That realization that the clothing store your hot pink leopard print pajamas escaped from is only located in Bumblefuck, New Jersey. The silver lining? Someday, some time, there will be a college/office party that includes the word “ugly” in the theme, and you will for sure win a gift card for your heinous ensemble.
…Are you insinuating I’m the smelly kid? Is my low-brow, working class Dove bar not up to your standards? Thanks for thinking of me, but that’s going to the back of the closet with the crystal stemware in case the President stops by.
Non Romantic Gifts
Is your wife suddenly giving you the cold shoulder after you bought her that new garbage disposer she’s been talking about? A valiant effort hubby, but next time, try something from the heart. Gifts are all about how much you can get, but rather knowing that someone cares enough to pick something out for you. Is the economy hitting you hard? A scrapbook of your best dates together or an IOU for a picnic together says a lot more than spending a couple hundred on anything with the word “garbage” in the title. It may be trite, but it is the thought that counts, especially when it comes to showing that special someone how much you care.
Gag Gifts That Aren’t Really Funny
If you have to explain the gift you gave someone starting with the sentence, “Remember that time…?” it’s probably going to be awkward. You may be peeing your pants at how clever you were, but if the person’s not going to use it, it’s funny for about 5 minutes, and then ends up at a yard sale in a couple years. Suggestion- if you want to go funny, toss in a little gag as an extra. That way, you’ve got them smiling, but they still have something thoughtful from you. Awkward gag gifts I’ve received have included a cactus (“Haha remember that time you pricked your finger on the one at my house?” “Yeah. Good times, thanks”) and “Safe Soap On a Rope” (Soap… on a rope…with a condom inside. Yankee Swap gift. Thanks a heap, that didn’t illicit any awkward questions when the parents found it in my room 2 weeks later.)
If you’ve got any of this on your gift giving list, perhaps it’s time to reconsider if you’re as clever as you think. Regardless, if the giftee cares about you, they will grin and bear it, because if Cindy Lou Who had it right in the Grinch, the holidays are about spending time with the people you love, not the presents you get. (Did you heart just grow 3 sizes bigger?)