Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Guide to Gift Giving

Ah yes, tis the holiday season. A time recognized through ones physical senses by a chill in the air (or freeze, depending on your latitude), the smell of street carts roasting chestnuts, freshly cut Christmas trees waiting to be taken home and decorated, or Menorahs in the window waiting to count the days of Hanukah. To get in the holiday mood, some watch their favorite Christmas movie, decorate cookies, or go to church, while others start a Wish List Pinterest board, or email their families a Word doc listing gifts to be received, separated by category and price. ::coughs::

Ever since I was a young girl I’ve had some issues giving and receiving gifts. It’s not that I’m ungrateful or thoughtless, it’s that I take it personally. I want the recipient of my gift to feel touched by my gesture. I want it to mean something. I want to show my affections for this person, and I want them to think of me while enjoying their gift. In return, I would like gifts that are equally as thoughtful and fun. I don’t hide my “are you serious?” face very well. When someone misfires on reading what I will want, I do my best to diplomatically and graciously thank them for their thoughtfulness. Just because I ride horses, Grandma, does not mean that all I want is horse themed paraphernalia for every giving opportunity.

My favorite Christmas memory was when I was a young child, still playing with Barbie dolls. This is also my cousin’s favorite memory, and likely my sister’s too. We woke up Christmas morning to find three newly purchased Barbie motor homes waiting for us under our grandparent’s bountiful tree. They were the coolest things we’d ever seen. Barbie could pack up the family and go anywhere in the world, just like that. The back of the car separated and unfolded to reveal spacious living quarters complete with a mini kitchen, bed with linens, and fold out table and chairs. The car part, once detached, had fold out seats. Upon reaching their destination, the whole family, or group of friends, could venture out and discover new shops, restaurants, hiking trails, and even waterfalls. We played with those until we finally grew up enough to have cars of our own and a means to explore life as adults. I’m pretty sure my parents still have them in their attic somewhere.

But gift giving has its missteps too. Just two years ago my father tried to combine my love of shoes with my love of my college football team (University of Florida Gators, if you don’t know by now ;). He proudly presented my sister and I with Gator themed Crocs and I nearly fainted in disbelief. “Are you serious?” was too stuck on my face to hide with gracious praise.

I’m not always the best gift giver either. Most of my gifts to Gman consist of things that include me and that I will enjoy like, movie tickets to something I want to see, vacations, picnics, wine, and lingerie. I also buy him things I think he should wear.

However, I am a firm believer that giving a gift as an adult can be painless and enjoyable. Here are a few guidelines for always getting it right.

Give something consumable. If you aren’t sure of someone’s style or if you are like me and have a very particular ‘to purchase’ list for your home and closet, it’s a good idea to offer gifts like wine, chocolate, expensive olive oil, specialty coffee*, or even an all expenses paid night out to the recipient's favorite restaurant/bar. It’s the gift of spending time together; can it get any better than that? Flowers are also appreciated and fall within this category, though I don’t recommend you eat them.

Give something shiny. People love shiny things, including but not limited to – jewelry, crystal, ceramics with gold leaf, silver objects, stemware, new golf clubs, makeup, candles and candle holders, ipads, iphones, Venetian glass ornaments, scarfs with sequins, food with edible gold leaf on it, especially French macaroons or cake, and a new car (cue Price is Right music)!

Give something handmade. I handmade all my Christmas presents until… well I still do. Every year I write a letter and give it to friends and family updating them on our activities. I like receiving their cards as well. Also acceptable - wreaths, ornaments, picture frames with meaningful pictures (from one of your travels, perhaps?), artwork, moonshine, and food (cookies) fall into this category as well.

*A Starbucks gift card counts as specialty coffee, especially for this caffeine-crazed writer.


  1. hi there!
    just stumbled upon your blog today...i'm pumped to find another gator in dc!

    love your tips for gift giving, too. :)


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