Christmas is a bonanza where we feel compelled to give each other some pretty crazy gifts. “What should I get them?” turns into “what haven’t they bought for themselves?”, which turns into some present that no one in their right mind would buy themselves.
I remember the year I got my mom a bubbling foot bath. My mom used to rub my feet when I was a kid, so I thought it would be a nice gesture to pay her back for all the foot rubs by giving her something nice for her feet. That misguided attempt at thoughtfulness translated into one disappointed mother. A plastic basin for one’s feet, no matter how bubbly or self-heating, is no way to say ‘I love you.’
Once again Christmas is coming, and consider yourselves warned about footbaths for your mothers. Still, we’re all bound to have hits or misses on the gift front again this year. It’s fun to think about all the styles of gifts we receive and give. Somewhere deep down, it’s the thought that counts. So what are you thinking?
- The Practical Essentials
Socks, underwear, toothpaste, long johns, toques, mitts, undershirts: when you’re young these gifts are not exciting enough and you get a lot of them. You want to shake your aunty and say: “Don’t you get that you’re supposed to make my eyeballs explode with an amazing gift??!!” But as you get older you totally get jacked when you unwrap a pair of quality socks. It’s a relief to receive something that you absolutely will need and won’t have to feign enjoyment over.
If giving a gift, the practical essentials take the pressure off and are appropriate for extended family, friends or even acquaintances. Okay, maybe don’t give anyone you aren’t that close with underwear. Keep it in the friend zones. Don’t get them toothpaste either.
- The Gag Gift
The idea behind these gifts is that it will be LOL when the person opens it, and everyone around them will ROFL. But these gifts are often duds, especially if the receiver opens the gift alone. The usefulness of a Toilet Mug is really laid bare when no one chuckles, and emergency underpants are presumptive at best.
That said, a gag gift does add a certain zaniness to Christmas morning. They also do a good job to maintain casualness around the relationships you don’t want to load with too much gravity. Added bonus: you support manufacturers in China who wonder who buys the crap they’re making.
- The ‘Testing the Waters’ Gift
Everybody has those people in their life that they don’t know where to place. Sometimes it might even be their significant other, and all of a sudden the present you get this person is a statement about where your relationship stands. Enter the ‘testing the waters’ gift. It will be something a bit intimate, like a piece of jewelry or a very nice article of clothing. The price attached to this gift will be substantial enough to say “I am investing in us.”
These are the hardest gifts to buy, because you don’t want to go too far beyond what’s expected and at the same time you’re putting yourself on the line. And as a receiver of such a gift, it always takes a second or two to decode what’s going on, which usually makes for a confusing reaction. However, Christmas is a time to solidify certain commitments in your life, or at least show your intention.
- The Killer Gift
This gift is like a mic drop. Xbox One: bam. Tesla Model X: I just done it. iPhone 7: deez nuts.
It’s the titanium approach to gift giving, where you buy the hottest thing on the market for the person so they can jump around like they just won the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right. These gifts are always well-received because they are unquestionably awesome. Plus they are so outrageous that there is nothing intimate about them.
These gifts are exactly what is desired in this razzle-dazzle age of non-committal, erm, desires. If you can give them (and preferably not on credit), then go for it. If you receive them, then prepare to make everyone jealous.
- The Copout Gift
There is one store that really comes to mind when I think of copout gifts: The Body Shop. I always go there to get gifts for the women in my life when I have no idea what to get them. It satisfies a couple of criteria: It shows sensitivity towards the recipient by respecting their skin, while giving everybody around a chance to enjoy the new colours and scents the gift brings. If you are a woman and you give Body Shop gifts, there is the assumption that you have used the product and want others to discover it (but you are probably re-gifting what you were given last Christmas by a copout gift giver).
I’m just waiting for the first person to call me out on this gift; to turn to me and say: “Wtf is this? Just give me 40 bucks next time and quit pretending to know what you’re doing.”
- The Real Gift
These are the gifts that embody Christmas’s true nature of compassion and care. They are thoughtful, require effort, and are a joy to give and to receive.
Even during the consumerism bonanza of Christmas, care must be taken for our deep personal needs. The Real Gift stays with the person in thought and mind, reaffirming faith in humanity. It’s basically the closest to becoming an angel that a human will ever become.
The problem is nobody has time to make a Real Gift for the people they truly care about because they’re too busy buying crap for all the other people in their lives. That and no one has been properly trained in the art of Real Gift giving. It takes skill, and you don’t just magically have the skill for it on Christmas Eve. Plus, no business got rich by encouraging people to give real gifts as opposed to just buying something amazing and expensive.
If you’re big on Christmas, you will probably give and receive a couple gifts from each of these categories. If you’re not so big on Christmas, or this year you have no money because of the price of textbooks these days (shameless StudEtree plug), you can enjoy the holidays nonetheless. From StudEtree, we wish everyone a merry Christmas.