Holiday shopping always makes me reflect on a better, simpler time, when I spent hours writing down everything I ever wanted into a neat list that I would mail to Santa, and my parents would make me sign some version of "Sarah" on the tags of the gifts they had purchased on my behalf. End scene.
Today - not so simple. Not only do I have to buy my own gifts, but everyone around me is apparently "so over" being honest about what they want, leaving the ball completely in my court. I wish people had to register for Christmas presents, so you could pick something you knew they wanted that fits into your price range and be done with it. Unless you're the person that registers for nothing less than $500, in which case you would not be getting a gift from me regardless. Sorry.
I swear, everyone, I'm NOT a Scrooge. Ask anyone - I love gift-giving! While I love to shop for myself, I get infinitely more enjoyment out of buying for others, and seeing their smiles (fake or real, I don't judge) when they open their gifts. It's the "I don't know what I want but I expect you to know what I want and buy it for me"-ness of the holidays that can be a bit of a bummer. Help me help you.
Thus I've created...
SJ's Five Helpful Hints for Unhelpful Gift Recipients:
Tips for the indecisive on how to get what you want for Christmas
1. Be Honest - Ok, don't run around asking your fresh-out-of-college sibling for a Tiffany's necklace, but be honest about what you want. If you want a scarf, as for a scarf, and let the gift-giver determine whether it's TJ Maxx or Burberry. If you want it to be a certain color, then fess up already! You won't get what you want by being coy.
2. Plan Ahead - Why is it surprising that a million people want to know what you want for Christmas towards the end of November every year?? You know the question is coming, so pull together a few gift ideas at various budget levels ahead of time. That way you won't accidentally say "socks" when someone asks you what you want at Thanksgiving dinner.
3. Gift Cards are OK - My favorite gifts are ones that let me do something I love with the ones I love. Thus, a gift card to my favorite restaurant is always a great option. Now I don't recommend giving gift cards to everyone and calling it a day - maybe pair it with a photo or a DIY gift to add a personal touch.
4. "Surprise Me"? You got it. - If there is one gift-giving adage I would do away with, it would be "suprise me". You want a surprise? Congrats, you are now the recipient of the foam Rudolph I grabbed in my caffeine-fueled Black Friday shopping blackout. Surprise! But seriously. If this is your way of hinting that you want something extra thoughtful or extravagant, there are much better ways than that.
5. DIY - Every year as a child I found myself in the sweatshop they called Art Class cranking out Christmas gifts like an elf on steroids for every member of my family. Shopping over. Back then, it was adorable when I handed over a lopsided clay pot that I had hand-crafted - now, not so much. So for those who would like something "made with love" this holiday... well, just be prepared for whatever you might receive.
So, to all you gift-receivers out there, all humor aside, give us gift-givers a hand this Holiday season! It doesn't mean that we'll put any less thought into your gift, it will simply ensure that whatever we land on will be that much closer to what you actually want!
Oh, but gentlemen shopping for significant others - you're on your own. These rules do not apply to your girlfriends, fiancees or wives. Best of luck!