Does what gift you buy send a message?


My wife and I ended up with a few spare hours today.  Nothing unusual there.  Except that it was a rare occasion where it was actually the same few hours on the same day.  And we recognised the opportunity before it was frittered away.


Has everyone noticed that Christmas is just around the corner?  I mentioned it in some comments recently but it never really sunk in.  5 weeks to Christmas… Hah, 5 weeks indeed.  When I was young and foolish (all years preceding 2005) a warning like that would mean nothing.  Having been bitten more than once by the last-minute-crappy-gift-monster (both the shame of giving and the disappointment of receiving), I now respect the speed with which time rushes past.


So we went shopping.  It’s amazing how in August you can think “hey, that’d be a great Christmas gift” but come December you can’t remember what it was.  And that poor person ended up getting an instant lottery ticket.  This year we have made those purchases on the spot.  Therefore, we (this year for the first time) are nearly finished with the Christmas shopping.  And today took us much closer to the finish line.  I truly believe that we are now only about 5 gifts from done. 


Today I had a shopping epiphany. 


I don’t know why, but this year for the first time I was not just thinking about the person and the gift and whether the two were vaguely compatible.  I was also seeing (almost feeling) an underlying message attached to each gift. 


Category 1.  I hate you too


Revenge has been a great motivator down through history and Christmas purchasing is no exception.  The initial cause and the ensuing reaction are often matched but may fall across a broad spectrum of issues.  Crap gift begets crap gift – you buy me something for a buck fifty this year, I’ll buy you something for a buck forty next year. 


Category 2.  I’m a pervert


Inappropriate gifts beget… unemployment – remember the office tradition of secret Santa? (but that’s another story for another day)


Category 3.  Payback time


Noisy gift begets noisy gift – as the proud owner of three children (you had better own anything you sink that much cash into – but maybe parent is a more correct term) I have endured a decade of family members buying noisy toys for my children.  Either that, or toys that use batteries at a horrifying rate.  This year offers double revenge. 


My youngest sister had her first child last July, so today we shopped for the loudest age appropriate toy we could find for my niece.  We went to three different stores to make sure we got it right and then doubled back to get the LOUDEST. 


My middle sister thinks she is beyond these repercussions as her son, my nephew, is 15.  But he has recently purchased the remnants of a motor vehicle which at his current rate of restoration should be roadworthy around the time he gets his learners permit (April ‘06).  So I bought him a book on how to make the loudest possible car stereo with the least amount of money, plus enough materials to make sub-woofer boxes for a Def Leppard concert.


Category 4.  Personal Hygiene


Hands up if you have ever bought someone toiletries as a gift.  Wait.  Not perfume.  Toiletries.  This category is OK if you are in grade school and buying for a female classmate.  It is also OK if you are in grade school and you are buying for an old female relative (remember, 25 year old mothers seem old to a 6 year old). 


Nothing says you stink like toiletries.  Remember, the stuff that smells nice and gets given as gifts costs twice as much and works half as well as the everyday stuff.


“Granny, I love you and all, but you need to take a bath.  Here’s some perfumed soap and bath salts” or “I see you picking your nose a lot.  I also notice you don’t wash your hands too often.  Here’s some liquid hand soap in an ornamental bottle”.


Category 5.  I have no idea


Be careful when shopping in this category because these gifts can also fall into category 1.


The mental blank has 2 causes.


1.  The stores close in two hours and you still have ten people to shop for. 


2.  You don’t care (or know) enough about the recipient to give the gift any thought.


People know how much thought went into your shopping and right at the shallow end of the thought pool is the jigsaw puzzles, key rings, scented candles, gift vouchers, instant lottery tickets.


People consider the amount of thought that is put into gift selection as a barometer of your opinion of their place in your life.  A measure of your love, if you will. 


Consider yourself pre-warned and properly armed


Remember, 5 weeks to Christmas.  So you can’t say I didn’t warn you.  And if all else fails get them a nice Banjo Brothers bag or Guarddog watch and remember to tell them Fatty and BIG Mike sent you. (Fatty – how do I claim my ten percent of your ten percent commission?)

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26 Responses to Does what gift you buy send a message?

  1. a says:

    i remember how funny my sister and bro-in-law thought they were 10 years ago when they were childless, and would give my oldest the most obnoxious, loud, battery-consuming toys on the planet. what they didn’t realize is that our home is truly a zoo (w/o the 4-legged variety of animals). now it is so much fun to return the favor to their two adorable little ones. even funner b/c their home is more of the martha stewart "quiet, happy place" environment. mwah, ha, ha, harecently, i gave my father a really expensive, well-thought out gift. imagine my delight when i opened the gift from him: a grey t-shirt that read "idaho, where farting is a sport"… love you too, dad. thanks.

  2. BIg Mike In Oz says:

    nikared – were you just camped on my site clicking refresh, refresh, refresh… waiting for me to post something?My dad was a scratch-lottery-in-the-card kind of guy.

  3. Unknown says:

    We’ve bought my neice a category 3 present for her little boy. It wins triple points. Its a crab that you press its head and it scuttles sideways waggling its claws and making a noise. It does the noise thing, takes 4 AAA batteries (no nicads please) and both it and little Zak are bound to be under everyones feet at Christmas. You know that the only place it will work properly is on the kitchen tiles

  4. Fat says:

    That is too funny! I started Christmas shopping early this year and have about five or six things left to pick up. But for the first time, I know what I’m getting everyone, no guessing. I just have to go out and buy them. I’m planning on picking up one or two things tonight. I don’t want to hit the Christmas rush, lol. ~ FFC

  5. Mrs. David says:

    Those of us living in the States are quickly approaching the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year. We stuff ourselves on poultry and gravy for our Thanksgiving; and the next morning we get up at O-dark-thirty to get to all the big sales. Stores open at ungodly hours with special door prizes, hourly specials and pandemonium ensues. It’s great fun, and we get our Christmas shopping done.I am the oldest of 13 siblings and my husband is the middle of six. Between the two of us and all their families, we have lots of gifts to buy. (We do exchanges, but you can’t NOT remember nieces and nephews with some little thing!) Category 3 has always been one of my personal favorites. I have also noticed that sometimes Category 5 ends up looking like a Category 4 simply because men think "What woman wouldn’t like this giant tray of pastel colored bath gels?" And, "Hey! It must be a good deal since it’s at this wholesale megamart!" Come Christmas morning, after the forth such tray, I’m sniffing my pits wondering if I don’t scrub hard enough when I shower.Just be glad this is a cyber-community. Happy Shopping!~Sia

  6. Tom Stormcrowe says:

    Hmmm, my wife and I don’t follow the trends I guess! We give handmade gifts. Since I know my Uncle doesn’t read blopgs, I am safe to say this. This year I made him a Halfhull model of an "E" Scow, a type of racing sailboat he happens to own one of. It’s painted in his hull colors and has his sail number on the sail.I think it came out pretty well too! The other people on my gift list are bloggers and run through and at least lurk on my link lists, so I’m not saying anything more on the subject other than "WE"RE READY!"

  7. THEODORE says:

    Haha, I like the categories. Very clever and humorous. But you neglected to add category #6–the one that includes gifts that have been bought with love and the reciever’s personal interests in mind. Albeit, this kind of gift is so rare and elusive that some dispute its very existence, but I’ve always been one to believe in fairytales and the like. Hope the Pink Princess’ arm heals soon and she’s able to survive the last four weeks. Her cast is the same color as the one my four-year-old sister got after a 32" TV fell on her leg.

  8. cosmogrl says:

    LMAO!! Hey, what about ‘re-gifter’s’? I’ve never done that, but I’m sure there are plenty of ppl who have and they need a catagory as well. I too started earlier this year. Halleluiah. I must say, I do get a bit of fiendish delight at giving loud obnoxious toys to my neices and nephews who have previously bestowed the same courtesy on my daughter…. (grinning wickedly at the thought….)

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