Sometimes I have an idea for a particular article and I have think twice, before broaching the topic. Today, I thought about it four times. What kind of ungrateful turd I must be to talk about getting bad gifts! I firmly believe in not looking a gift horse in the mouth. Still, we have gotten a collection of gifts over time that have lead to more stress than if we hadn’t gotten the gift at all. With Christmas coming before you know it, I thought I’d share with you these gift-giving traps and the lesson I’ve learned for the gifts I give out.
Before we get started, you should know that my wife comes from an Irish Catholic family. Apparently there’s some kind of tradition that says you must display every gift you’ve ever gotten. If the gift-giver comes by to visit and doesn’t see you using, displaying, wearing the gift you might as well attacked their mother with a tire iron.
- The Gift That Keeps on Taking – We once got a very nice print of a place that is near and dear to our hearts. Sadly, we already had an extremely similar print from a slightly different angle. I give the gift-giver a pass on knowing that we already had the similar print – I can’t remember if we had it displayed at the time. Two hundred dollars in framing cost later, we had something that was very much what we had before. A $50 gift ended up costing us $200.
- The Gift That Can’t be Returned – Our friend actually received this gift. It was an engraved picture frame. Whether it suits your sense of style or not, you are going to have that forever. You can’t put it on Ebay. At least the picture frame is timeless. Woe be the person who receives an engraved iPod. If you want to sell the old one and upgrade in a few years, you’ve got a bit of a problem.
- The Figurine Or Anything from the Hallmark Store – Someday, you’ll read about an arson at a Hallmark store, and you’ll wonder where my wife was at the time. As a Patriots fan, I’d like to build a time machine and go back to stop Archie Manning from procreating… well, she’d take the time machine and stop the Hallmark store from ever existing. The biggest complaint we have here is that the items perform no function. They may look cute, but we’d rather have a minimalist design. After awhile you just get to a point where you have too many things to display.
- Assuming That You Like Something – I don’t know how to explain this other than to tell a story of a grade school friend of mine. He got a Garfield stuffed animal when he was little. Someone else saw it, said, “He must like Garfield. I’ll get him a poster.” Now he had a poster and a stuffed animal. Fast forward two years and he’s go at least 15 Garfield things around his room. I said to John, “I can’t believe I didn’t know you liked Garfield this much.” He replied, “I don’t.” Similar thing happened to me when I made an off-hand comment about how ridiculous it is that Bananas in Pyjamas is making someone rich. One joke gift lead to 4 people getting me Bananas in Pyjamas in a quick two years.
- The Misplaced Gift – This is a rare one and I wondered if we are one of the few people who suffer it until I heard a friend mention it the other day. We have relative who got us this beautiful set of stoneware dishes. Awesome, we love them. The relative had the company ship it to her home in Massachusetts and she gave them to us when we were there. The problem is that we live in California. It costs almost as much ship the item as it cost to buy to the first place. Wouldn’t you have just shipped the gift to the person’s house? In this case, I guess not.
I really don’t mean to bitch here. I know how that’s how it’s going to come out. However, if it really is the thought that counts, it would be nice if people put a little more thought first. That said, here are a few more tips:
- Use Registries – If someone has a registry set up use it. My mother-in-law would sooner punch a baby in the face that use a registry because she feels it’s impersonal. It’s why the gift giver goes through the work of creating one. It’s better than the alternative.
- Use Gift Cards – I’ve mentioned before that there’s a reason why I buy people gift cards. This is one of them. Yes, they have their drawback from good old cash, but they are still better than risking any of the mishaps above. The only exception is getting a gift card to the Hallmark store – it’s just asking to be re-gifted. Consider Amazon gift cards. If your giftee can’t find something to buy from Amazon, that person is plain weird.
- Give Something Consumable – I think some of the best gifts we’ve gotten are wine, dinner gift certificates, tickets, etc. I like to call these, “experience gifts”, though they must have a better name. You have fun, create a memory, don’t have to display something in your home. It’s fantastic all around.
What do you think? Please share your own bad gift story in the comments so I don’t look like the biggest excrement tunnel in the world.