Holiday presents: you can't win

How do you do your Holiday shopping?  Here are the options as I see them:

Option #1:  The gift that you yourself already own and like.
Pros:  You know it's decent if you already own and like it.
Cons:  You might look a little uninspired or even regift-y. ("Hi!  Here's your gift!  I already own several and love them!  ...... I did not just wrap up one from my own kitchen drawer, I swear!")

Options #2:  The gift you like but wouldn't buy for yourself normally.
Pro:  You like it!  It's likable!  And maybe you wouldn't normally buy it because it's a real treat.
Con:  If you wouldn't buy it for yourself normally, perhaps it's because it's not really, truly worth it.  Or it's expensive and that credit card statement is going to HURT come January.

Option #3:  The gift you don't like in the hopes that you are hitting it out of the park for someone with VASTLY different tastes than you.
Pro:  You are being thoughtful and thinking outside of your box! You are really embracing the Christmas spirit by trying to intuit what someone very different from yourself would like!
Con:  There is the possibility that you are sending the message that you DO like this item and therefore you are telling them this is YOUR taste and this is what to get YOU.

Option #4:  The generic gift that anyone, anywhere with half a brain/heart would like.
Pro:  Hard to go wrong!  It won't be memorably awful!
Con:  Generic items can be boring and, um, generic.  It won't be memorable, PERIOD.

Option #5:  The highly suggestive gift.
Pro:  You heard a friend lamenting her poor cooking.  So you buy her a great cook book and a nice spatula.  You are thoughtful and encouraging!
Con:  You could come across as a pushy, pedantic a-hole with a hidden message about your recipient's inferiority/weaknesses.

Option #6:  The official wishlist gift.
Pro:  You know EXACTLY what they really want and need.  You can rest easy knowing you are fulfilling a clear wish of theirs.
Con:  There is ZERO excitement and suspense.  Unless, of course, you are "Santa" and fulfilling the wishlist of a 4 year old.

Option #7:  The handmade gift.
Pro:  Not too expensive!  And I have such grand ideas!  I know it means SO MUCH to get something that someone hand made.
Con:  My grand ideas greatly exceed both my skill level and my time-management skills.

What's that you say?  You've already finished your holiday shopping!  EXCELLENT.  Come on over and HELP ME.  I'm feeling a tad bit overwhelmed with tasks and under-equipped with holiday spirit.


Mama Bub said...

I would LOVE to do other people's Christmas shopping for them. I love buying gifts, and I'm always a bit depressed when I max out my Christmas budget because I would just like to keep shopping.

Also, my dad is getting socks this year. SOCKS. Because that's what he want and he has everything else in the world.

grammalouie said...

Please read the article in the NYTImes Science Times section today (12/13/11) about this very topic. I am totally with you on how hard it is to buy the right thing, but this article points out that most (most, not all) people want items from their wish lists even if that risks making the giver look uninspired. They want gifts that make them feel good, not the giver feel good. Hmmm.....that's a toughie. Don't we all want to feel good? Apparently high cost does not make the recipient any happier or love the gift more. What a relief to know that! And also, re-gifting is acceptable. Need to be careful with that one but it's worth thinking about at least.
And the last one is from me -- relax and enjoy this beautiful season. Before you know it, the holidays will be all over.
Happy Holidays everyone!

Rebecca said...

Thats why I don't buy gifts! ;)

Just kidding. I feel your pain. Usually I have a theme each year and it pretty much rotates through your list. This was my home made year. I got inspired and so that nailed it for me. Of course, I LOVE amazon.com, so that's always a wonderful go-to.

Good luck! You still have two-weeks! You can do it!!! :))

Stephanie said...

I love your categories!

Over the years, we've really toned down the list of who we buy for, mostly because, among the adult family members, it was becoming a $50 gift card exchange or a case of people having to send links to the exact specific bike computer or necklace that they wanted. There was no sense of surprise or generosity and it was all just a big pain. So now, I buy for my kids (obviously) and my nieces (who are super-fun to buy for) and on both sides of the extended family for adults, we either pool the $ we would have spent on gifts and donate it to a worthy cause OR we pool the $ and do an experience together after the crazy of the holidays has passed: big Sunday brunch at swanky restaurant, Cirque, overnight at Great Wolf Lodge, etc. I love this way so much more!

Alice said...

my main concern when christmas shopping is to spend as little time in physical stores & malls as possible. i think this year was the record - i went to nordstroms for one item, and every single other thing was ordered online / bought elsewhere (see: sri lanka) / something i made.

so i guess what i'm saying is i pretty much don't care about my recipients, it's all about keeping ME happy ;-)

Bird said...

After years of trying other options, I really now just go for the whishlist gift. Its less stressfull and people are always happy getting exactly what they wanted. Sometimes, the suspense of knowing if you got something on your list makes even a wishlist gift fun.

clueless but hopeful mama said...


grammalouie: I love things from my wishlist but I really love it when people get me things I didn't even know I wanted. That feels like the elusive holy grail I can never quite reach.

Stephanie: In my in-law family, we agreed to limit adult gifts to $20 and to pool money for a charity every year. LOVE IT. WISH I COULD MAKE EVERYONE IN THE WORLD DO IT.

Alice- Sounds like you read the NY Times article my mom was talking about! I like your philosophy.

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