Happy Holidays, everyone! Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah/Hanukkah/Chanukah! Happy Kwanzaa! Celebrate Boxing Day like a champ! Have an excellent Ramadan! Enjoy the Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe!
(Phew, I’m exhausted. I apologize for any celebrations I may have missed, but I’m sending much holiday love to all of you as well.)
Tis the season for holly and feasting and trees and candles and latkes and big fat men who come into our house and eat our food without asking! Tis also the season for gift giving. Some people are easy to buy for! Some people, not so much. There are thousands of gift giving guides at the tip of our fingers, and I’m about to give you another one…with a bit of a twist.
Most of us have to buy for parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, best friends, spouses, kids, etc. But what about those completely random people you have to buy for? What about the person who might interpret your gift in a completely different way than it was intended? Have no fear: Patti Claus is here with a few suggestions for these delicate and difficult present exchanges!
FOR THE PERSON AT WORK WHOSE NAME YOU PULLED OUT OF A HAT FOR SECRET SANTA THAT YOU HAVE NEVER SPOKEN TO AND THE ONLY WORDS ON THEIR FAVORITES LIST ARE “BLUE” AND “TEAPOTS”:
DO: Obviously the final gift is a blue teapot. But to make them feel loved through the week as well, decorate their workspace! Send them on a scavenger hunt looking for a small gift of some fancy tea! Leave notes on their lunch in the fridge. Write poems with clues. Time is key here. For some people you can just buy lots of shit, but unfortunately for you, you need to spend some actual thought and effort on this one.
DON’T: NO GIFT CARDS. This is the epitome of saying, “I don’t know you, nor do I care about you, so here’s some free coffee you’ll have to wait on crazy long lines for.”
FOR THE PERSON YOU’VE BEEN DATING FOR ONLY A FEW WEEKS:
DO: Nothing. Plan a dinner date before you both leave town for the holidays, and if you really feel like you need something, get a TINY present to have on hand in case they surprise you with something. Nothing too personal. A few little bottles of their favorite liquor inside a fun glass. If they have a favorite candy, a holiday version of it. Just a little token that fits in your purse or murse, but something you can also enjoy if they don’t have anything for you.
DON’T: Be a crazy person. Do I have to expand on this? Ugh, fine, I will. Don’t buy them anything expensive. If you do buy them something, be prepared for them to run away from you emotionally. Don’t expect a present back. Don’t invite yourself home for Hannukah with them. When in doubt, DON’T.
FOR THE PERSON AT THE DOG PARK WHOSE NAME YOU CAN’T EVER REMEMBER BUT YOU SEE THEM EVERY DAY AND THEY WEIRDLY GAVE YOUR DOG A GIFT:
DO: Find out their name!! However you have to do it. Ask to see their license. Give them your phone and tell them to put their number in. Whatever you have to do. Then say, “Thank you so much for the gift! Milo and Petey are going to love their new embroidered beanies. I have a gift for Muffy at home, but I was going to see if you guys wanted to come over later for a doggie play date and give it to her then!” Then run like hell to the closest pet supply store and buy Muffy some personalized dog pearls.
DON’T: Try to pass off that extra treat in your pocket as Muffy’s gift. Don’t be an idiot.
FOR THE MUTUAL FRIEND WHO STILL WORKS WITH YOUR EX-SPOUSE’S NEW SPOUSE:
Do: Put a stake in their friendship. A wall hanging with an inside joke embroidered on it, or a super cute picture of the two of you that can decorate their cubicle or office or workspace. Make sure you look like a freaking rock star in the picture. Doesn’t matter how your friend looks, this isn’t about them.
Don’t: Get super crazy. You don’t need to drop a ton of dollars. Quality is important here, not cost. Also, don’t drop it off in person at the office. That’s just desperation and the chances of you making a fool out of yourself are enormous.
FOR THE BOSS WHO YOU’RE PRETTY SURE WANTS TO DATE YOU EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE LIKE 30 YEARS OLDER THAN YOU AND CREEPY:
DO: A lottery ticket, a bag of Skittles, and a Starbucks gift card. Anything that makes it look like you totally forgot about it until you were already on your way to work the day before Christmas break. A 99 cent card that merely says, “Happy Holidays! YOUR NAME.” And leave it on their desk when they’re not there so you don’t get trapped in their office being pulled into an inappropriate work hug.
DON’T: Anything you have to put thought into. Also, no alcohol. You may not have to put thought into that, but Creepy Boss might think it means you want to have a drink with him/her. (Shudders.)
FOR YOUR AWESOME MAILPERSON:
DO: Cookies! If you know them really well and are 100% sure you won’t poison them, bake them yourself. If not, buy some gourmet cookies from a favorite local bakery. They will appreciate the gesture, even if they are gluten/dairy/soy/nut/egg/wheat free. There’s just no easy way to do that anymore, you know? Or if you know they celebrate Christmas, a cute ornament that says “World’s Best Postman/woman” with their name painted on it. Just find the kiosk at the mall.
DON’T: Give anything that exceeds $20 in value. No gift cards or cash at all. These are actually laws in the United States of America. So like, obey the law and crap.
FOR THE IN-LAW OR FAMILY MEMBER YOU ARE FAILY CERTAIN DOES NOT LIKE YOU AT ALL, AND WHO DON’T LIKE ANYTHING FUN, LIKE WINE OR CHOCOLATE OR HAPPINESS:
(Note: I have never experienced this. My entire family is the best on the planet, and I truly hit the jackpot with my amazing in-laws. Hi Mom and Dad and Ben and Françoise! I love you!)
DO: Consider donating to charity in their name. Bonus if it’s an organization they have a special connection to. It’s something we should all be doing every holiday season anyway, and it can truly make a difference. Plus, it makes you look awesome and selfless, and they literally can’t complain about not getting a gift, because that makes them look like an asshole. And if they do complain, then everyone now knows that they are, in fact, an asshole, something you have known all along. It’s a win-win.
(The following is a list of the best and worst charities for your donations: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/12/best-and-worst-charities-for-your-money/index.htm)
DON’T: Get them clothing. If you get the wrong size, they’ll make a fat joke that is actually a public mortifying reprimand. They will use a gift card, but they will also bitch behind your back about how thoughtless of a gift it is, and how you must have stopped by the CVS on your way over to pick it up because you forgot about them.
FOR THE EX-BOYFRIEND WHO IS NOW MARRIED WITH A CHILD WHO RECENTLY DID YOU A FAVOR SO YOU NEED TO SEND A GIFT BUT IT’S KINDA WEIRD CAUSE EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE TOTALLY FRIENDS NOW HE’S MARRIED TO THE GIRL HE BROKE UP WITH YOU FOR:
DO: Have a bottle of wine or whiskey sent to their house. MiniBar is an excellent app for that, as is Tipsy. Easy peasy.
DON’T: Sign the card “love.” Actually, have the guy at the store sign the card, like they do with flowers. No presents for the kid, cause if they love it, you’re screwed and mom hates you. Nothing they can hang in their home, cause let’s be honest, they don’t want to think of you every time they walk by it. Yeah, anything that they can’t eat or drink in one night should be vetoed automatically.
THE STEPCHILD WHO IS NOT EXCITED BY YOUR EXISTENCE:
DO: Gift cards. Gift cards all the way. Gift. Cards. GIFT CARDS.
DON’T: Buy anything except gift cards.
Well, I hope that helped a bit! In a season that is supposed to be about love and giving and sharing, it’s easy to get bogged down in finding the absolute perfect gifts. But if you’re sincere when you give it to them, and you take an extra few seconds to tell them how much they mean to you, that might make all the difference. Except not with Creepy Boss. Don’t encourage that.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!!!