With the busiest shopping season of the year ramping up this week, it's time for a little refresher course on the dos and don'ts of holiday gift-giving.
Because if it's the thought that counts, some of you need to seriously think harder.
The elephant (or donkey) in the room
Regardless of you swinging left or right, let's keep the presents politics-free.
"But what if you know the recipient and their views very well?" asks the lobbying gift-giver.
Even then, we still vote no.
And one further note:
If the occasion you're buying gifts for is not a particularly religious one (i.e. birthdays, weddings, graduation) it's best to keep the spiritual beliefs at bay.
Because your misguided attempt at salvation for others can easily turn into your misplaced invitation next time around.
From scratch? Scratch that. There's a fine line between arts and crafts and arts and crap. Try to be objective when it comes to your handmade goods. Depending on your age and the quality of your one-of-a-kind creations, these types of gifts can either be viewed as sentimental mementos or reminders of your delusional frugality.
From me to me
The saying, "treat others as you would like to be treated," does not mean you should get folks the exact gift you would want, giving it to yourself by proxy. Examples of this selfish and underhanded move disguised as generosity include: sexy lingerie for a partner, a copy of the Kama Sutra for a partner -- really anything sex related that is coincidentally for your benefit -- tickets to an event that only you want to attend, and a food or beverage that you enjoy more than the other person and, thus, get to eat/drink the majority of.
The group gift
To some degree, gifting is a numbers game. While the phrase "all for one and one for all" is swell for the Three Musketeers, it doesn't really work in the gift-giving realm. Don't get us wrong, the communal gift exchange is fine -- so long as you adhere to the right ratio and only collaborate on gifts that are worth divvying up. In other words, don't assemble Team Generosity for a $15 gift card to Outback Steakhouse.
Size does matter
Good intentions can easily go south when buying clothes for other people. Even if you know the exact cardigan your wife wants (because she circled it three times in a J.Crew catalog, marked the page with a post-it note, and slide it under the bathroom door), you could still walk home with the right shade in the wrong size. While a size too small could make her feel good, a size too large confirms her paranoia about her recent weight gain, and this entire relationship. Simply put, do some detective work before you pull the textile trigger.
Taste is relative
One man's trash is another man's treasure, but in the case of gift-giving it's usually the other way around. Whether it's a leg lamp, velvet painting, or custom made vase from your "Intro to Ceramics" class, giving someone a piece of home decor is basically just giving them one extra piece of crap they have to lug out of storage every time you come over.
Beauty is pain(fully obvious)
If you're going to get someone beauty products, they better have straight up asked for them. Otherwise, with a quick connecting of the dots and reading between the lines, she'll think you're implying she has both on her face. Furthermore, the nose is a picky thing (no pun intended), so don't just assume everyone else shares your love of patchouli oil.
Free gift with purchase
If you think we can't tell what gifts you actually paid for and what gifts were free with purchase, you, sir, are wrong. Sample sizes and "not for retail" labels are some big clues in your miniature themed gift basket.
Look, we've all received gifts that we can neither accept nor return. But if you're going to play pass-the-present, take some precautions. To avoid gift-giving incest, regift the unwanted package to someone outside you social circle -- a second cousin in the Midwest, or even better, your local Goodwill. Also, make sure to remove any evidence of the gift being previously owned or opened. There's nothing sloppier than regifting a Shake Weight with the original gift tag, addressed to you, still attached.
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Wrap that shit
So you're not good at wrapping and you have an aversion to scissors, that's no excuse. Know why? Two words: gift bag. Throw your gift in a colorful gift bag and stuff some tissue in there. It'll take you less than a minute to assemble in your car and will give off a much better impression that the crinkled shopping bag you bought it in.