Helpful Tips to What Gifting Probably Kinda Sorta Isn't

A leaking Jell-O mold wrapped in pretty paper... Sweatshirts bedazzled with love and giant furry decals of cross-eyed kittens... Dollar store Precious Moments knockoffs tied with happy bows...

When it comes to family, gifting can be... an interesting experience. So, I thought it might be helpful-- well-before the whole holiday season pressure hit-- to offer up a few tips to keep in mind when selecting that special something for those you love.

These nifty little hints have been hand-picked based on real-and-for-true moments experienced either first-hand by yours truly, or by those near and dear to me. Because, you know, you really just can't make this sort of stuff up.

Oh-- and if you have a gifting trauma-- er, story-- of your own? By all means, feel free to give us your worst. Of Cabbages and Kings is about nothing if not sharing and learning and growing. (And limiting the amount of anthropomorphic pig figurines one needs to dust each week.)

Okay, here goes:

  • If your feet have been inside the Christmas socks, reconsider giving that particular pair as a gift...
  • If you are unable to resist sharing this specific set of footwear, do not tell the recipient how much your big sweaty feet-- and those of your spouse-- enjoyed testing them out. (Most people really do prefer a lack of toe-jam over quality control.)
  • 8-year-old boys are not inclined to get excited about shaving kilts.
  • Giving someone a book they'll love is nice...
  • Reading the book first and then presenting it, along with an hour-long lecture on its contents (complete with marked notations)? Not so much.
  • When someone thanks you for a gift, try not to respond by saying, "Well, what was I going to do with it?"
  • When gifting, do not tell the recipient that the gift was chosen because you would receive two FREE items that were far better than the gift itself...
  • ...And then share how you squirreled those free items away for "emergency gifts."
  • Desk blotters with calendars are more effective when the calendar is for the upcoming year.
  • Everyone in the family is unlikely to want a copy of Tom Brokaw's biography, even if the bulk discount is tempting.
  • If you don't know what the item is yourself, chances are, it may not be a clever gift idea.
  • Always remember to remove the $0.50 sticker prior to wrapping.
  • Writing someone a poem, as a gift, is thoughtful...
  • Unless it's a five-page epic and you recite it...
  • Twice...
  • And then spend the next half hour elaborating on the lines that make it so gosh-darned brilliant...
  • Just to make sure the recipient didn't miss the good parts.
  • Reindeer typically have two antlers and two ears. If holiday reindeer earrings have just one ear and antler apiece, they are probably broken --and can't be spun to be "Christmas unicorns."
  • Just because someone owns cats, doesn't mean they will get equal pleasure from a day-glo pink "I HEART my cat" t-shirt.
  • A cake-mix and permission to use the stove isn't quite the same as an EasyBake Oven.

So, all right, folks-- those are the ones I could come up with! Now let's hear your reasons it's better to give than receive...

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A vote for Of Cabbages and Kings at Humor-blogs is better than a one-horned reindeer earring any day. Or drop down the chimney at Humorbloggers because, you know, it's so early they'll NEVER expect it.

12 comments:

Melanie said...

Well goodness, some of those are hard to top! Here is a list of my "don'ts" based on personal experience.
*Don't give your daughter-in-law an Avon Cape Cod berry bowl when you give your daughter a Kirby vacuum cleaner. The price difference in the gifts is glaringly obvious and will make you look stupid.

*Don't give your employees dollar store dust collecting figurines for Christmas when you owe them six weeks pay. That $20 bill you taped to the bottom does not make up for the fact that we have no food in the frig.

*Don't give lottery tickets. If they're non-winning tickets it's the same as giving nothing. If they're winning tickets, you're going to be mad as hell that you gave them away.

techfun said...

I kinda want a Christmas Unicorn now!

Do not give people decorative items based on what YOU think they should collect.

Frogs do NOT go with any decor.

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie- Ah yes, gifting inequity! I think most families have seen some unique variation of that. :) And the pay, well, that's just SAD.

Techfun- You KNOW I was thinking about your potential for frog-amassing. :)

Chat Blanc said...

Hilarious and frightening at the same time!! But you're definitely doing the world a huge favor, I just hope the offenders are reading!

Da Old Man said...

My ex wife's family had the worst Christmas gift exchanges ever. Usually it was Macy's gift certificates. The perfect way to say, "I had to get you something, and we decided on a $25 limit, so, here's 25 bucks." So thoughtful. One year, I suggested we dispense with the stupid gift certs and just have a grab bag and choose one name, and buy them something they may actually like.
You'd think I wanted to kill Santa and neuter Rudolph.
So we all dutifully exchanged our $25 Macy's certificates.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chat Blanc- I can't be sure, but I believe this is an offender-free zone...

Or we'll find out for sure, come Christmas.

Da Old Man- And what can you even get at Macy's these days for $25? A pair of silver toenail clippers? A 1/8 ounce of Chanel Number 15 1/2? Probably not much, I'd imagine!

chyna said...

Actually paying attention to what someone does or likes is always important. My dh's family is absolutely horrible about that one.

One year I got a few skeins of yarn and a pattern book (I was pregnant) with the statement that I could do it in my spare time. A) I don't knit B) I don't intend on learning C) I was working full time and actually working on my own baby blanket project and finally D) the yarn they picked is really hard to work with plus they didn't get enough. I had to find someone to do it for me!!!! Plus that same year they gave us a meat dehydrator and some buffalo meat. Again 1) I don't eat red meat and 2) why would you think we'd want to dehydrate this meat?!! My ils gave us a side of beef one following Christmas and then she was shocked that I don't eat red meat. Let me see here in all the time we've ever eaten together have you ever seen me order anything with beef in it? We're talking 20yrs worth of meals here. Talk about oblivious!!!

And since my mil loves purple she insists on buying everyone else stuff in that color. I'm highly picky about purple, if there is any kind of red tint to it I hate it. Again, look around my house, do you see purple anywhere? Do you see me wearing purple?

I'm tempted to start buying her stuff in pink and then say something idiotic like "oh you don't like pink? But I thought this was so pretty". sigh

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- I think you've really hit on the big issue with gifting-- trying hard to please SOMEONE WHO ISN'T YOU! That's when it goes wrong. Someone who likes purple so everyone should like purple. Someone who wants to save some dough and figures a gift given, no matter what it is, is good enough. Not to say I'm the queen of great gifting, but I do buy people things I have good evidence they'll like, and not because I like it myself.

Your yarn story reminds me of the potholder weaver I got as a kid for Christmas.... with only enough material to make 1/2 of one potholder! :)

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Hmmm....lessee:

1. Nobody wants a dickey. Nobody.
2. Regifting is okay, unless the person who gave the item to you in the first place is IN THE ROOM when recipient #2 opens it.
3. I absolutely refuse to participate in a 'Yankee Swap' thanks to the last one I did at my former employer: I put together a "Sunday Brunch" basket with real maple syrup, jams, organic pancake mix, and small batch, locall roasted, expensive as sh*t coffee. The guy who ended up with it made some snide remark about it, so when my turn came, I took it back. And took it home. He was my manager. Dickhead.

Jenn Thorson said...

Shieldmaiden- Okay... here goes:

1.) This just made me laugh out loud. So funny-- and yet so very true.
2.) Doh! Regifting requires a subtle amount of thought-- thought about logistics, apparently.
3.) Well, at least someone ended up getting it who'd appreciate and enjoy it-- YOU. :) I think of Yankee Swaps I think of that one "The Office" episode. Those things are destined to be traumatic.

Tiggy said...

So all those Christams unicorn gifts were not real Christmas unicorns?

I'm very sad. In both senses of the word.

Jenn Thorson said...

Tiggy- I'm sorry to say they probably weren't. Also, if you have a moment for me to Private Message you, there's probably something I should tell you about Santa...