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On sucky gift giving

By Staff | Oct 27, 2010

The purchasing and/or creating of any object to bestow upon another–it’s not easy, but we are all called upon to do it.

Some go forth into gift giving with great gusto. Whether for a birthday, graduation, holiday or just because, they nail it every time. Others struggle with the concept, and despite their best efforts, fail.

Their presents are unwrapped and met with a meek falsetto: “Oh… thanks. I really wanted one of these… things. Really… thanks…”

To avoid giving presents that suck, there are three simple guidelines*:

*There are several schools of thought on these guidelines among gift-giving scholars. Please educate yourself with further research before deciding upon the guidelines to which you will adhere this upcoming holiday season.

1). Match the gift’s sentiment and seriousness with that of the gift-giving occasion.

2). Buy for the recipient, not yourself.

3). Put a little thought into it.

? The Inappropriate Gift — It’s an obvious answer and a cheesy pun, but, dear readers, giving a vacuum as a gift sucks. Just ask my brother about Valentine’s Day 1999 when he offered his wife a brand-new, bright red, big ol’ sucky Dirt Devil. Did she need one? Yes. Did she want one? Actually, yes. Did she want to unwrap one from her husband as the vehicle that expressed his undying, passionate love? Absolutely not.

As the guidelines state, the present should match the occasion. Buying a burial plot for a birthday, a hunting riffle for a wedding, or a vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day might find you labeled as a giver of sucky gifts. (Although, I challenge you to find an occasion that screams “vacuum cleaner!”)

The Good Intentions Gift. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and nowhere does that ring truer than with gift giving. I imagine Hell’s main thoroughfare as a fiery boulevard lined with mountains of returned and discarded gifts, charred bows still lifelessly clinging — a volcano of presents re-gifted so many times other gifts call them whores.

You think your friend will love the knitted sweater with the horse appliqués you spent 43 days making. Unfortunately, the hard-work and genuine effort is masking one important fact: you, sweater-maker, are the one wanting the over-sized wool atrocity with gaudy patches, not your friend!

No matter how expensive, rare or perfect the present, make sure it’s all that in the eye of the receiver and not just your eye.

? The Thoughtless Gift — An underestimated part of the gift giving process is The Hunt. Instead people prefer to fantasize about the moment of unwrapping; the unveiling that ignites a primal glimmer deep in the recipient’s eye like that screams “MINE! MINE! This is so wonderful I will never let go!” And, mission accomplished thinks the gift-giver.

The Hunt, however, is the perilous journey that one person must embark on alone to ultimately decide upon a gift. It’s the thought process inherent in The Hunt that is key, as it adds meaning to the gift.

A man screws the pooch by buying a vacuum for his sweetheart. But he listened and processed complaints about a previous crummy cleaner, he thought and went on The Hunt for a gift, and finally discovered it in the bristling brushes of the Dirt Devil. Of course, his hunt resulted in a bunny rather than a 12-point buck. But attempt, he did!

The point is anything can make a good gift as long as true thought and sincerity is behind it. The one exception in this school of thought is cash. Or it’s close cousin: the gift card. This may rock your gift-giving world, especially if it’s a standard in your gift-giving repertoire, but nothing says “thoughtless” more than taking cash out of your wallet and putting it into an envelope–even if you did have to walk to the ATM first.

So follow these guidelines or risk your present ending up next to a Dirt Devil, another slut in the pile of whorey Hell gifts.

Contact Katharine at letters@graffitiwv.com