Gift Giving: A Survival Guide

Mother Nature’s flurries have begun to frolic about in the gray, late autumn air, and our radio stations teeter between non-explicit rap and premature Christmas carols. All it takes is one minute of “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” and suddenly everyone has transformed into Mariah Carey herself. Call it a Christmas miracle.
Nonetheless, everyone wants a bit more than “you” this holiday season. Don’t lie, you want some good gifts this year. But finding the perfect gift is a difficult task, impossible even. And some way or another, we always manage to end up wildly unprepared.
Dizzied by a blizzard of red, green, and Black Friday, our minds are snowed in, our bank accounts are frozen, and our motivation is trampled by an avalanche of our own uncreativity. The Grinch, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Old Man Potter become increasingly relatable as our minds grow haunted by their grumpy cynicism. What if we fail at gift giving?
Now, do not fret a minute longer. I, your guardian angel, am here. Free of charge, too, I might add. In the good spirit of Christmas and all that is holiday magic, allow me to thaw that icy heart of yours. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Kwanzaa, or anything in between, ‘tis the season of love. And with that, I bestow my gift to you: five simple tips to help you conquer gift giving this holiday season.
Rule #1: Listen, Pay Attention, Analyze. Listening is your new best friend. Open your ears and your mind. Employ your analytical skills to deduce the real meaning behind even the most casually dropped hints. Maybe even eavesdrop a little. Odds are, you could find the most fantastic inspiration within an everyday conversation.
Rule #2: Gift by Personality. A very important piece of advice: Do not give gifts based on principal hobbies. Humans are creatures of habit. Chances are, your recipient already owns their day-to-day essentials. Instead, dig deeper. Think of inside jokes. Think of useful items, things that would appeal to the more subtle aspects of someone’s personality. And most of all, don’t forget that the power of irony is on your side. Get an ugly sweater for the fashionista. Give dad a book of jokes to try out. Order a badass mug for the quiet, tea sipping, rule follower. Amusing gifts are often the best received and make for splendid conversation pieces.
Rule #3: Don’t Be (Too) Mean. Whatever you do, do not give a rude gift. What present could possibly be upsetting? They are primarily objects pointing to flaws, stereotypes, or with crude undertones. Deodorant and toothbrushes are off limits. And, unless it’s on their Christmas list, gifting a gym membership is a bit insulting. Either way, definitely don’t give conservative Grandma something sexy unless you want to be kicked out of Christmas dinner. That said, use your best judgment. Be a tad controversial but don’t stray too far across the line of embarrassment.
Rule #4: Homemade Gifts Are Priceless. Is your credit card struggling? Crying out for help perhaps? Do not worry! A good gift is not quantifiable by its monetary value, but by the love that is put into it. Price isn’t everything. If you are feeling crafty, create a unique gift of your own. Whip out the knitting needles and make a one-of-a-kind hat to keep your loved one warm this winter. Or maybe, make a photo album full of your most invaluable memories. I guarantee you that they won’t own anything else like it. And don’t forget, a thoughtful, handwritten card is the perfect cherry to top off any present.
Rule #5: Yes, Wrapping Counts. Never underestimate the value of a beautifully wrapped gift. Purchase a roll of wrapping paper, write notes, throw on some tissue paper, add bows. First impressions matter. It doesn’t matter whether there’s an iPhone or an avocado inside your box. Your recipient doesn’t know what’s underneath the layers of snowflake and striped wrapping paper yet. Use that to your advantage. Every gift, no matter how big or small, holds within it the potential to be special.
See? Gift giving really isn’t too bad. So shake that pessimism off your boots and leave your insecurities outside the door. You may make mistakes along the way, but you are human, and that’s ok. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness. If you use these simple tips, failure is no longer an option. Be confident! With good intentions and a great effort, all will be very merry and bright this holiday season.