Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rusty's Gifting Anti-Rules


Holiday Rules to Break

A lot of advice comes out around the holiday season about what you should or shouldn’t get some people. Some of it is sound, but a lot of it seems to take the preferences of some women and apply it to ALL women. There’s nothing that can replace knowing the woman (or girl) you’re purchasing gifts for and having clear lines of communication on what they’re interested in for Christmas. But the world is imperfect, we have to buy gifts for people we don’t see often, and sometimes these ‘rules’ seem to indicate that all the gift ideas you have are WRONG. So instead of making a list of rules that would only apply to specific women, these are my anti-rules:

1. “Don’t buy women vacuums/cooking equipment/other home appliances! It’s insulting!” - Listen, I have a KitchenAid stand mixer on my Christmas list and genuinely want to get it. Last year I got a knife set I’d wanted FOREVER and was thrilled. My mother has received a Dyson vacuum for a gift twice now and has been giddy with excitement both times. Sometimes there are women who want expensive kitchen gadget or cleaning equipment and can’t bring themselves to spend their own money or it, or are tight enough on cash that they literally can’t afford to. If a woman asks for it, she wants it, and disregarding her wants based on some list written by someone who’s never met her is more insulting than buying the damn vacuum. That said, an un-asked for vacuum? Bad move.

2. Useless kitsch - Have you reached the point in you holiday shopping where you find yourself in front of a display of crystal statuettes thinking “Huh, maybe (random woman) in my life would like one of these?” If so, step away from the mall and regroup with a coffee or a beer, depending on the time of day. Unless the woman has an ongoing collection of twee statuettes or plaques featuring inspirational sayings already, she’s not likely to appreciate getting one out of the blue. It’s another thing to dust, you know?

3. Sometimes gift cards are appreciated. - I know it’s supposed to be the height of tacky to buy someone you’re close to a gift card, but honestly? Given the choice between one of the above statuettes and a gift card I’d be far happier with the gift card. Most women will make their feelings on gift cards known if you ask (you can phrase it as asking about what to get a mutual friend or a relative) and be sure it’s to some place she’s already a fan of. It’s a sort of gift of last resort, so get a sweet card to go with it. Just make sure that where you’re getting the gift card for and the amount of the gift card match. $40 gift card to Target? Awesome! $40 gift card to Coach? Significantly less than awesome.

4. Electronics that weren’t asked for. - I’m pretty picky about my tech gear, and if someone got me a tablet, phone, or computer without getting some pretty insane specifications that would tip me off to exactly what they were doing beforehand I guarantee they’d get it wrong. And getting a $30 gift you don’t love is just life, but getting a $400+ gift you don’t love is awful. It’s no fun for the giver either, as you get to watch the recipient’s face fall as she opens an incredibly expensive present that you were sure she’d love. Unless you got it because you wanted it and don’t intend her to use it so you can play with it all the time. For the record, that’s a dick move also.

5. Not all people who read a lot want a Kindle or Nook. - Seriously. It’s a touchy subject, do your research or just flat out ask.

6. Jewelry and clothing are best selected by the person who’s going to be wearing them. - Some men have impeccable taste when it comes to what their girlfriend/fianceé/wife wants to wear. My father is one of those men, and it’s wonderful when I get to see my mom open something beautiful he picked out for her. A lot of men aren’t though, and even if you’ve got a good idea of the styles she likes, sizes can be tricky when it comes to women’s clothing. If she’s got a best shopping buddy, give said buddy a ring and see if they can point you in the right direction. As for lingerie, just steer clear unless she’s picked something out. Buying someone something YOU think is sexy but THEY will feel silly and/or uncomfortable wearing is not a good way to get the sexytimes to happen, it’s a good way to end up with a pricey piece of lace and satin stuffed in the back of a drawer never to see the light of day or a bedroom again.

7. If she’s made a list, pay attention to it. - Yes, it’s lovely to be surprised. It’s less lovely to be surprised by something you’d never actually want while items you desperately hoped for go un-purchased in the name of spontaneity. If she’s specified a brand or style, pay attention to that. This is within reason, if the list is populated by expensive cars and Tiffany bracelets it’s understandable to go off script, but if we’re talking a specific set of slippers? Buy the right slippers.

8. Gifts related to self improvement - Books, DVDs, anything about pulling your life together and being more successful. Again, unless specifically asked for, these send a very clear and not very nice message. This goes double for anything related to weight loss. And leave The Secret on the bookshelf because Oprah already told all of us what “The Secret” is: being goddamned Oprah.

9. You are not a good gift unless you operate as indicated on the packaging - Times are tough for a lot of us this year, and if you’ve got a special skill and you’re looking for a way to give something of yourself to others it can be a great idea. Just make sure when they cash in that promise to clean up their computer, fix their leaky faucet, or help tailor their clothing you actually follow through. Waiting two months for someone to fix your leaky faucet after they repeatedly promised and assured you that they would get to it eventually is almost more annoying than the damn faucet in the first place.

10. Getting a pet should never be a surprise - Pets don’t make good Christmas presents. The decision to get a dog, cat, canary, or even a fish is one that should be discussed thoroughly with all members of the family with clear outlines of responsibilities for any and all care-givers in place before said the animal is brought home. Yes it’s stodgy, and yes the videos of kids or adults being surprised with the gift of a puppy are adorable and hard to resist, but introducing an animal to your home under normal circumstances is difficult. Doing so while you’re in the midst of holiday madness is unnecessarily stressful for all involved. Better to wait until things are calm and you’re operating under your normal household schedule so the new pet can get quickly acclimated to home life.

Thanks to Replica for some help with this list!

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