Year after year, I am astounded by the amount of lords-a-leaping off the fiscal cliff into financial ruin for the sake of giving everyone they know something for Christmas. It’s seemingly refueled every year by those venti pumpkin spice lattes, which I will admit are heaven in a cup.
Let’s face it though, as we grow older, Christmas is no longer the classic American tale of that special time of year when you can ask for a Red Rider BB gun. If we want something, we buy it. It’s as simple as that. This throws a wrench in the whole idea behind the season of giving. The following is a compilation of the different types of gifts from favorables, to faux pas, and everything in between. Hopefully this will give you some perspective and help you to not waste money on Christmas crap.
The Listed Item
This item is what the recipient has outright asked for rather than just mentioned in passing. It’s typically given by parents, grandparents, or a spouse, sometimes even a girlfriend or boyfriend if the relationship is progressive enough for gift requests. These tend to be larger scale items such as a car, a TV, video game console, or anything one could take advantage of the season of giving in order to receive. The listed item’s relevance and glory is unmatched in all circumstances.
The Lifestyle Changer
This gift is an item that has no natural place in your daily routine. Or really your life in general. This is typically something too big to be thrown away, but requires a conscious effort to fit into your daily life, thus prompting a lifestyle change. More often than not, this is an awful gift. Not only do you have to pretend to like it when you open it, but now you have to actively change your routine to fit this unwanted item into your life, which could throw off the entire order and balance of your existence. This gift tends to sit somewhere in your home collecting dust and taking up space until one day you get so sick of it that you chuck it out the window. For example, a car accessory that holds your iPhone on the dashboard AND has a cup holder AND wipes your ass for you is not something I want or need in my everyday life. Maybe someone gives you a “Fruit of the Month” subscription that requires you to change your diet. Whatever it is, leave the lifestyle changing to my New Year’s resolution, okay?
The Homework Assignment
Journals, books, etc. No one wants a gift that requires doing work. This one can be a sensitive subject, because I love reading and encourage everyone to always be reading a book. Having said that, you have GOT to start picking your battles, people. If you give someone a book, it better something you KNOW they will enjoy. God knows I’m not wasting my time reading crap. A journal? Now I have to write down stuff into this book? No. Just no. I can’t even.
The Hobby Recognition
“Why yes, I DO play piano! Thank you SO MUCH for this piano shaped pencil sharpener! Oh, and this necktie with the piano keys on it will go GREAT with my Brooks Brothers Non-Iron!” I have uttered similiar words far too many times over the last quarter of a century. I can only imagine what my golf enthusiast grandfather must think when every time he gets a gift it revolves around golf in some way. Don’t kid yourself; no one wants a bunch of crap plastered with their hobbies and interests collecting dust in the attic. You want crap that enhances your performance of said craft. So keep that in mind next time you see a Dallas Cowboys Keurig and think it would make a great gift for your father, who for some reason has an affinity for Tony Romo.
The Gift Card
Older relative to younger relative, boss to employee, parent to babysitter…these parameters are the only situations in which the transfer of money in any form is acceptable for Christmas. These should never be given to anyone who is anywhere near your age, ESPECIALLY if you are dating the recipient. Default to not landing on the gift card. If you need a default, consider this next strategy…
This is the end-all-be-all of defaults. Not only are consumables always enjoyable, but there is an infinite demand for them. Can one ever have too many bottles of booze? What about a nice cheese? A French noir coupled with a nice Gouda wedge is a timeless gift for anyone and everyone.
At the end of the day, there’s no excuse for wasting money on Christmas crap. If you’re at a loss when it comes to gift giving, and you find yourself squeezing a stuffed snowman that belts White Christmas, you are about to buy Christmas crap. Don’t do it. Be the change the world needs. If you can’t think of anything meaningful or useful to give someone, don’t settle. Give that money to someone who could really use it. Maybe a local charity. Maybe someone on the street. Maybe you know someone in need of a lil’ cash money. Put your privilege to good use this season, because that’s what it’s all about.