The Soulless Mindgame that is Holiday Gift Giving

IMG_20161209_164743851.jpgAh, holiday shopping. Judging by the insanity that is Black Friday I assume there are people who actually enjoy this iconic Christmas tradition, but I am not one of them. I hate Christmas shopping. I absolutely dread it every year. Not because I don’t like giving gifts- on the contrary, I like giving gifts way more than I like receiving them. I wish I could claim that I hate the gift giving aspect because I’m just super into the idea of remembering “the reason for the season” and it shouldn’t be all about the presents (although I do believe that). But, considering I celebrate Christmas in a mostly secular fashion, that is not completely accurate. It’s mostly just due to that fact that I suck at picking out gifts for people. I have had way more misses than hits over the years when selecting gifts for people. And a part of me dies every time I watch someone unwrap a gift and it becomes immediately obvious that I didn’t exactly nail it with said gift. The fake enthusiasm a person has to muster when pretending to love something you gave them, while that flicker of disappointment crosses their face- it’s just the worst. Because my entire goal every shopping season is to avoid that scenario like the plague, I put way too much pressure on myself and am completely stressed out by idea of holiday shopping every year.

It seems like it should be an easy process to find a gift someone likes- can’t you just think about what a person’s hobbies are and shop based on that? Well, as I have found before, no, that doesn’t always work out. Because when a person is really into  a particular activity they usually have most of the stuff needed to partake in that hobby. My track record of giving crap to people that they already own is depressingly solid. Case in point: years back my nephew was super into the Harry Potter series. When Christmas rolled around I just knew what he would love more than anything was a Harry Potter book. Did it occur to me that since he loves the books he had probably already bought the books himself? No, no it didn’t, and it didn’t occur to many others in our family either. That year the poor guy unwrapped at least five Harry Potter books that he already owned; all he got for Christmas was a trip to Barnes and Noble to return all of his gifts.

There are some people that are not hard for me to shop for- my kids, for instance. They want EVERYTHING so the hardest part is narrowing down what they want most and buying it. Simple, no sweat. But there are others in my life that I struggle horribly to buy for, and the hardest one by far is my husband. The man is damned near impossible for me to shop for. He already has everything he wants and his tastes are particular to boot. He owns every tool he could possibly ever need; it’s the same with tech gadgets, too. If some cool new technology comes out we usually own it within a month of it hitting the shelves- unless it’s something he has researched and has decided is crap. And I, not knowing he has decided it’s not worth buying, will get all excited, thinking that I have found something he will love and doesn’t already own. In my hopeful fervor I never realize it’s basically just going to be a beautifully gift wrapped pile of disappointment, just chillin’ under our tree. That’s always a fun surprise that only gets revealed on the big day as he opens it and says, “Oh yeah, this. I’ve read about this.” That is never a good sign; if he read about it but didn’t buy it, it’s a fail. He’ll tell me loves it, of course- he’s picky, not evil- but it will disappear from sight that very afternoon, never to be seen or heard from again.

So, technology based gifts are out. He also generally hates the clothes I pick out for him, so that’s only for the years I get really desperate. He is an avid golfer so I went that route for the first 8 years or so of our marriage, and now the poor man could drown under the vast amount of golf accessories I’ve foisted upon him. He loves football but that, too, has been exhausted- his man cave looks like the entire Miami Dolphins Fan Site threw up all over it. You might think simply asking him what he wants for Christmas would be helpful- you would be wrong. Every year I get the same cheeky response to that question, and let’s just say that the answer he gives is, well, inappropriate for this site (or a family Christmas morning). I’ve even tried to go the “novelty gift” route with him, finding fun, quirky gifts he wouldn’t ever think to buy for himself (as it turns out, usually for good reason). I cringe remembering the year I actually gifted him a checkerboard that had, instead of actual checkers, shot glasses that you were supposed to fill with alcohol. Really, Past Sam? That seemed like a good idea? Did I forget that my thirtysomething husband was not, in fact, a 21 year old frat boy that shoots alcohol until he passes out over a game of checkers? Needless to say, that checkerboard has never seen the light of day outside of the box it came in; I found it recently gathering dust in our storage room. These are the things my holiday nightmares are made of.

In an effort to find gifts my husband would like, I have turned to online holiday gift guides to try to gain some inspiration. You know the ones, they have titles like “Top 20 Gifts for Him 2016” and I get excited thinking some gift expert has truly figured out the secret to shopping for men. Yeah…not so much. Let me just share with you a few of the “gems” I have found on these gift guides:

– Detroit Grooming Vanilla and Honey Oil-Based Pomade (Are you kidding me? A hair product that smells like a cupcake? There are men who would get all jazzed up to open this on Christmas morning?)

– A $60.00 Men’s Manicure Set (Right, because most men are so wild about giving themselves just the fanciest of manicures.)

– A $65.00 Personalized Leather Fly Swatter (Seriously? For all those fly swatting enthusiasts on your Christmas list? Give me a break.)

– $995.00 Rag and Bone Messenger Bag (Ha,ha- messenger bag! Don’t you mean “Man Purse”? Because that’s what my husband would call this thing)

– $750.00 Vetements Silver Grinder Necklace (What in the actual hell? A necklace? For my husband. Ugh, no)

– Cufflinks of varying brands and styles (I’m sorry, is this 1950? Do we live in an episode of Mad Men? Do modern men wear cufflinks so on the reg that they would be over the moon to receive these?)

And now, for the one that just really made me want to set my tablet on fire:

– $40.00 Nextool Tactical Space Pen (Oh wow, not just any pen- it’s a space pen, oooh!) And wait, you really need to see the description on this one:

“These rugged and good-looking anodized aluminum pens from NEXTOOL let you write with ease and also function as a tungsten steel glass breaker. NEXTOOL stays on the cutting edge of masculine design with bold, tactical designs that are durable, attractive, and always more than they seem.”

I don’t care how many impressive adjectives you add to this, it’s a pen. A flippin’ pen. You want me to give my husband a pen for Christmas- brilliant. Just what he has always wanted. Thanks a heap, Internet!

As you can see, my research project wasn’t very successful; the search continues and I’m still feeling like a contestant on “The Biggest Loser: Christmas Edition” (only this time it means “loser” in the most literal sense). It’s all made worse by the fact that my husband does actually nail it with my gifts every year. Seriously, the guy is like a gift buying Jedi, I always love my gifts from him. He wins Christmas every year….and he KNOWS it. You can surely see where this is a real problem for me.

I just have to know- am the only one who struggles with the whole gift giving thing? Is it a giant debacle for you, too, or am I just a special kind of mess? And if you are great at selecting just the right gifts every year, what is the secret to your success? Hit me up in the comments because as you can see, I need all the help I can get.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there is a fly swatter that I need to have engraved with my husband’s initials.

xoxo

Sam

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