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Thoughtful Gift Buying

Gifts - Josephine - July 19, 2020

The sheer number of people who give inappropriate gifts is astonishing. Giving animals is almost always unacceptable, giving personal hygiene products is insulting, and giving someone a vacation is risky business. If you are a clueless gift giver, read on as we explore what gifts are great, what gifts are gaudy, and what gifts might get you fruitcake next Christmas.

One snowy December day several years ago, my best friend showed up at my door clamoring about the Christmas gift she had for me. To make a long story short, this gift was a rodent. She had bought a gerbil and all the necessary equipment to care for it. After naming it for me, (Spot, of all things) she left me alone with it. Now, the gerbil was a mean little creature that didn’t like to be handled. He bit me at every opportunity, especially when I did something awful to him, such as feeding him, or cleaning his cage.

This was a complete nightmare of a gift. I wasn’t about to re-gift the evil little thing, and gerbils, unlike goldfish, live at least a couple of years. The giving of animals is usually an unwelcome gesture, with a few exceptions. In the case of a child, I would request permission from all of the adults responsible for the child. You wouldn’t want to walk into a party to see your sisters ex-husbands new girlfriend complaining because Georgie the cat destroyed her new shoes when visiting her home with your nephew. Another exception to the rule is when the person specifically requested the animal. If your brother says he wants a snake more than anything, (and wasn’t under the influence when he said it), it would be acceptable to buy the snake. The trend of taking unwanted animals to the pound is disturbing. Not buying the animal in the first place will not only save time, hassle and embarrassment, but it will also save resources. Animal shelters often operate on very slim budgets, and an onslaught of animals after the holidays must be daunting for their financial team. In order to budget door gifts, the approach of the purchasers should be thoughtful to get the desired results. The learning of the things should be great to purchase the door gifts. With the correct approach, the financial team will deliver the guidance to the purchasers. 

Selecting the wrong gift for an office party could result in disaster for your professional life. While a gag gift that falls within the price guideline might seem funny when you are buying it, it could affect your relationships with the people who witness you giving what we will call the idiot gift. Let’s say that you are drawing numbers for a gift exchange at an office holiday party. The boss draws the number thirty-seven. The idiot gift says number thirty-seven. Now, your boss knows that you have bad timing and that you lack social grace. These things will effect how the boss thinks of you for the rest of the time you work for him. Ruining your career over one thoughtless or offensive gift seems wasteful, so put real effort into the gift selection process. If you don’t know who will be receiving your gift, like in the scenario we just discussed, gift cards are always a good solution. If the buying guidelines suggest a gift between thirty and fifty dollars, it is advisable to purchase toward the higher end, if buying gift cards. After all, the one drawback of giving the cards is that the recipient knows exactly what you spent. If you are uncertain of what store to buy from, I would recommend one of the newer gift cards, often sold in grocery stores. They are sold as one card, but can be used at as many as three to five different stores and restaurants. If you know that the majority of your coworkers are in relationships, you can give a fun gift that will extend beyond the individual receiving it. An interesting idea for this would be a ‘dinner and a movie’ package. Again, you can usually pick up a gift card for that exact purpose. If not, stop being lazy and make two stops. The effort will be appreciated.

Personal hygiene items are a rather rude gift, with a few exceptions. If you know that your mother wears a certain type of perfume, it is acceptable to buy her this. To purchase perfumed bath sets is a bit of a risk. These often won’t be meant with criticism because they are arranged as gift sets, however the recipient may have too sensitive of skin to enjoy them. To purchase a basket of personal hygiene items like soap, shampoo, and deodorant is just rude. (I bring this up because a woman I know gave a friend a basket like this for Christmas last year. He was hurt.) This implies that the recipient not only would benefit from using such products, but that they cannot afford to purchase them on their own.

Another gift risk is to give a vacation. While this initially seems like an extraordinary, exciting gift, it could cause numerous problems. Receiving a vacation is wonderful testament to how much the giver cares for you, but there are foreseeable issues with money and timing. The recipient may not be able to afford taxes, meals, air fair, and spending money. These are costs that are still the travelers responsibility, even when the trip is ‘all expenses paid’. Another potential problem with giving a vacation as a gift is time. More often than not, pre-purchased vacations have an expiration date of one year. The gift recipient may not have the time to take a vacation, or worse a combination of both problems. Sometimes, when people who haven’t yet retired are given a vacation as a gift, they can’t even afford to take the time off from work to take the vacation. A possible solution to this problem is to a savings bond to the recipient in for the amount you wish to spend. Specify that it is toward their dream vacation. This way, they can cash it in when they wish, using it toward their vacation, or something else they could use more. This allows the recipient more flexibility in enjoying your gift.

So, we have covered some of the most common mistakes made when buying gifts. Now you have some alternatives to make idiot gifts a thing of the past. Just remember that thoughtful gift giving isn’t as hard as it seems. It is fairly easy to please relatives and friends by putting a new twist on old ideas. I will leave you with one last piece of basic advice: Never forget to take the price tag off.

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