Monday, December 10, 2012


I am not gifted in the art of gift-giving.

Giving gifts gives me anxiety.  The idea that someone will receive something that I chose for them, and the very real possibility that they will hate it, already have it, or worse yet, pretend to love it and then take it home where it disappears forever tweaks me out a little bit.

I am a sensitive sister, I know.  But the fact that each one of these scenarios has happened to me, in addition to the one time I provided a gift that I personally loved to an anonymous gift exchange and that it was received with jeers and laughter – everyone thought it was a gag gift; it wasn’t – leaves me with butterflies when the season of gifting comes around.

Forced gift-giving leaves me cold.  Exchanging names to buy for one person a gift, usually with a specific price point at which only fanatical shoppers with extraordinary couponing skills can find an appropriate and meaningful item, brings me to my knees.  When searching for a specifically priced gift, I scour stores looking for the price tag, and when I find it, I buy it.  No matter that I just bought a pine-scented candle for the friend who is deathly allergic to pine trees.  Look!  It was 50 cents off!  What a bargain.

In my quest for the perfect gift I’ve tried gift-giving websites where you input parameters about the person you are trying to gift, and it gives you an appropriate gift that promises to be perfect for that person.  Usually these gifts cost two hundred and ninety three thousand dollars, and I’m not Beyonc√©, even though people say I look a little like her.

 I guess the reason why I am not a very good gift giver is because I am also not a very good shopper.  It takes me forever to find what I want, and I get overwhelmed looking for items that seem to hide in plain view.  I forget what I am looking for, and remember it only when I get home.  Lists don’t help.  The sheer number of objects out there makes my head spin.

I’d rather just give some cash.  It fits everyone, and I’ve never known anyone to not be able to use it.  Yet cash among friends at Christmas is considered tasteless.  When did we decide that cash isn’t an appropriate gift?  My husband and I used the cash we were gifted at our wedding to eat all the meals on our honeymoon.  Without the gift of cash, we might have been reduced to looking in garbage cans for our meals, making it a very different, yet no less memorable trip.    

Gift cards are regarded as thoughtless gifts, yet rare is the time that I receive a gift card and think badly upon the giver – I’m too busy thinking about what I’m going to buy instead of thinking that gift-giver as thoughtless.  After all, when I give gift cards, it is because I have no idea what a person has or needs, but at least I know where they like to shop.  Thoughtful, yes?

People try to help when I whine about my predicament.  They say, “Shop online!  It’s so easy!”  I laugh at this.  If you think going into a mall is overwhelming, think about the internet, with its fifty bajillion websites from which to choose the same item at 790 trazillion different price points.  Plus then you have to wait for delivery, which is not convenient for me since I tend to do all my shopping last minute.  They say “Stockpile gifts that can be given to anyone!”  Not for me – as a rule, I am against hoarding.  They say, “Give practical gifts!”  And I think of stamps and aluminum foil, jars of spices and a pound of good butter, all things that I would love, but that others wrinkle their noses at.  Plus, how do you keep butter from melting as it waits to be opened?

So what do I, the reluctant gift-giver, do?  Stress out about every event that comes where gifts are expected?  So far, this is my strategy.  That and just give gift cards and cash, and once in a while I will buy a gift that I know is weird and inappropriate.  At least it’s better than being the one who doesn’t give any gifts at all.  I've been that person too, and trust me, it stinks.



  1. Oh, girl. I feel your pain! I was just in a frantic "Jesus, Christmas is 2 weeks away! Buy some damn gifts NOW!" freakout and I got your email. I have absolutely no answers to our shared predicament. Just right there with ya...

    1. It's nice to know I'm not the only one. My husband insists that I am. :)

  2. I think the problem is we've allowed ourselves to be convinced that the stuff of gift giving is what matters. Seriously, as trite as it sounds, why isn't it the thought that is important? Why does it have to be all this pressure to perform? I say it doesn't. Let's rebel.

    1. You're absolutely right. It's my mindset, I know. Another thing is: why are so many gifts necessary? After a while so many gifts are passed back and forth that they are no longer meaningful.