How to avoid holiday failure

The dos and don’ts of gift giving

If you’re anything like me (procrastinator, indecisive) you probably head out a week before your holiday celebration in search of magnificent gifts. 

However, last minute shopping can, and likely will, result in terrible gift purchasing decisions. Take it from me, I know. 

So as you make the trek out to the mall in a panicked state with thousands of other procrastinating shoppers looking for a last minute present, keep these awful gifts in mind. Hopefully you too can avoid holiday disappointment.

For the man in your life

Shopping for the man in your life can be particularly difficult, especially if you’re shopping for the father who has seemingly everything. Typically my game plan involves searching for something practical that I know he will use. Sometimes this strategy works well, but most times it falls flat. 

In my dad’s house bagels are eaten on the daily, leaving poppy seeds and crumbs all over the counter. So, after  wandering in Sears for about an hour with nothing to show for it, finally in the ‘As Seen on TV’ section, I found the perfect gift: a bagel cutter. It came complete with a crumb catcher as well. I stopped by the men’s section for a pair of wooly socks, just in case. 

My dad kindly offered me the bagel cutter as a housewarming gift when I moved out. And those woolly socks, well they’re used as a doorstop. 

Foolproof gift for the man in your life: a bottle of whisky and/or gift card at his favourite steak house. Other options: chocolate, personalized coffee mug, a doorstop.

For the woman in your life

In this case, I am speaking from the other side of the gifting experience. Guys, before you go out and purchase a gold ring with diamonds for your female friends or partners be certain that the connotation is very clear. When she opens that gift wrap and a gold and diamond ring is gleaming at her the situation will likely unfold one of two ways: she’ll tear up and say ‘yes’ or ask for the gift receipt. So, make sure you can handle both the best and worst case scenario that comes with the ring. 

In general ladies will appreciate anything that looks as if it’s got a personal touch to it and a bit of thought behind it. A photo collage of memorable times together framed nicely and accompanied by a box of chocolates will likely go over well. Don’t be shy about asking a woman what she wants either. We’re great at dropping hints if you listen closely enough. 

And a word to the wise: don’t bother spending your time looking for clothes unless she tells you exactly what she wants. Alternatively, heading to the accessories section of your girl’s favourite store could be fruitful. 

Foolproof gift for the woman in your life: a bottle of whisky and a subscription to Netflix. Other options: jewelry, antiques (keeps you out of the malls), handmade card with cash. 

This holiday season, you can avoid disappointing gift giving if you skip the mall all together. Head to your local small retailers to see what treasures can be found in their shops. Antique stores, small jewelers, artisans at craft markets and designers are happy to help you find the right gift.

Published in Volume 69, Number 14 of The Uniter (December 3, 2014)

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