10 December 2011

Annual Gift Ideas Post

Unlike previous years, when I would barf ideas for gifts up on the page, this year I swear I'm going to be clear and organized and intentional. Stop snickering at me. It's unbecoming.

Gift ideas for your bestest friends:  You shouldn't even be reading this. They're YOUR bestest friends, people: what could I possibly say to guide you? Oh, okay. i'll try.
  • Do something different. If you always buy them a new coffee table book, mix it up. Buy them a new coffee table (check thrift stores. V and I found several funky ones just last week), or some Sanka or something. Is Sanka still a real thing?
  • Buy them a beer sampler (Leinenkugel's has some tasty ones this time of year) and refuse to drink from it. Buy two, if you can't help yourself.
  • Consider purchasing something you can do together. A pedicure or massage, for example, as opposed to an ob/gyn appointment.  Tenessa has, over the years, gifted me things like my 1/2 of the hotel room cost when we go away for a weekend, or paying for us to go away to a meditation retreat. This ends up sort of like a gift card, though, so make sure you follow through and book that trip together.
  • Something matchy. This doesn't work as well if you work together, or if your bestie has fashion rules beyond what this allows, but if you live in different cities & aren't out in public together constantly, having identical scarves or mittens can be a warm reminder of your affection for one another.
Gift ideas for your neighbors whom you don't wish to piss off but don't really care about all that much:
  • Cookies or sweetbreads. You can't really go wrong with baked goods, because it seems like a tremendous effort, so even if they hate your cookies, they will still think you like them well enough. Wrap it up pretty and present it in person!
  • Liquor: Provided your neighbor is at least 21, liquor is often a welcome gift, unless you know they're in recovery or ought to be. A nice bottle of red wine or sparkling wine says "I thought of you. Not a whole bunch, but I did think of you."
Gift ideas for your in-laws or out-laws:  Like your best friend, I don't know your in-laws or out-laws. I will make some assumptions, but please forgive me if I'm totally off-base.  In-law/out-law relationships can be really varied. For example, you may totally adore your mother-in-law but find your cousin's wife repulsive. In this case, they may better fall into other categories (bestest friends and tolerated neighbors, respectively). You have to help me out here, people.
  • If you are new to their family, consider a safe but luxurious option. Plush towels, for example, are often a welcome addition (unless your in-laws have OCD about matching things, in which case, good luck with all that). My mother-in-law once received a cashmere sweater (not from me), which raised the bar all to hell, I tell you what. It was a very inspiring gift.
  • Along those lines, a luxurious throw that matches their couch is a lovely option, especially if their house is cold and you have to wear three pairs of pants at once to get through a family evening without shivering. Sort of a gift for yourself disguised as for them deal.
  • Food. Especially if your in-laws are hosting holiday get-together time, they will appreciate any addition to their larders. I mean, don't buy them a case of green beans (unless that's how they roll), but something that can be added to the food offerings of the weekend might be especially helpful. Consider summersausage, really great cheese, things that taste amazing on crackers. A nice whiskey or brandy or package of licorice is often a welcome offering to the patriarch, again, if'n he's not in recovery. And don't expect him to share: he might, but he might not, and that's the point of a gift, really.
  • Paper products: okay, bear with me here. You may not want to give only toilet paper to your in-laws, but if you're going there to visit, bringing over a 4 pack of TP will be a welcomed thing. Think about it: you and your brood is always going to their house on the holidays, always eating their food, always pooping in their bathroom. Who buys that toilet paper? They do. And it does not grow on trees. (well, you know what I mean). 
Gift ideas for those people you're expected to buy a gift for but just can't think of anything because you don't really know them that well or whathaveyou:We all have these people in our lives, from the mail carrier who knows about your poodle fetish, to your hairstylist who consistently talks you off the ledge every six weeks, to your child's teacher(s) & therapist(s). If you have a go-to gift in this department, I'd love to hear it, because this one tends to stump me. But here's what I know.
  • If you're gonna give a gift card, consider the broadest possible options. My sister, who used to teach pre-school, got a lot of use out of West Acres gift cards, which could be used anywhere in the mall. She got a lot less use out of the Starbucks gift cards. Which is not to say she didn't appreciate them: she just doesn't drink coffee, and it seemed like a bit of an effort was necessary to get herself over to a Starbucks not knowing if they'd have anything she'd really like.
  • At the same time, I'm all for supporting small & local businesses. A Target gift card will certainly get used, but a gift card to Zandbroz will be more memorable.
  • Another gift-card based option is an online one. Etsy's got great stuff, and a lot of etsy shops offer gift cards. Check out these places I like to drool over: a Minnesota jewelry maker, a North Dakota girl, or this shop, from Oregon, that sells prints of animals in suits. Lots of unique,  beautiful gift suggestions just in those three spots. Order soon!
  • As a teacher myself, once in awhile I do get gifts from students. Sometimes it's from an entire class (a Hello Kitty coffee maker!) or individuals (a giant tin of popcorn, a Coke and a small bag of Doritos; delicious holiday treats, food from an international student's homeland, WonderWoman socks). Because I teach college, I never expect a gift, but they are always very appreciated. In fact, I think I just listed every gift I've ever received from a student, in 12+years of teaching. So they're very rare, too.  Which means they're heartfelt. I think.
  • Because I've mentioned it in the other categories, liquor. It might seem a little awkward to present your preschooler's teacher with a bottle of rum, but seriously, if you spent all your working hours surrounded by toddlers, wouldn't you want a drink?
Gift ideas for your favorite blogger, who has an inordinate fondness for sideshows and murder ballads: Truly, I don't need anything. I'm just honored you thought of me.
  • I already have this, but I highly recommend it for people who can stomach creepy music and horrific lyrics. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Murder Ballads was a gift from my friend Dan, and I can't stop playing it, even though it's the most haunting set of songs I have ever heard.
  • If you really want to give me a gift, do some of your holiday shopping through my link at the bottom of the page here. Anything you buy at Amazon by clicking through the link on my page gives me a tiny bit of money. Ever since I put the link up four years ago, I've been raking it in: just under $2 total to date. Amazon won't even let me have the money until it gets to $10. So if you plan to shop through Amazon anyway, why not help me reach my goal?
Gifts for your favorite blogger's partner, who has anxiety issues and cardiomyopathy: Um, yeah. I don't know what to get him. You can't really buy Xanax over the counter (yet), and he's the kind of guy who just buys himself what he wants. Don't you hate that? I mostly farm out the basics (socks, underwear) to our family...which leaves me having to think of something exciting. My ideas so far (Shaun, you should totally not read this part):
  • Fancy salt-free potato chips. These actually exist. I don't pretend to understand them, but he really enjoys having junk food that won't hurt his heart immediately (as opposed to the long-term).
  • A hilarious picture of V. This is sort of a go-to gift for me to him, because she makes him laugh, and he rarely takes pictures of her. I think he's got 4 frames already on his nightstand. Hm. Maybe I need to think of something else.
  • A microwave-safe bowl just for him. We have lots of these, but he eats leftovers almost everyday, and some of our bowls get hot. Would this be a good gift? Or the kind of thing he'd lump in with the shop vac I got him for Father's Day that year? It's so hard to know.
When in doubt, ask for a gift list. Or get a book. Just wandering around a bookstore can often offer you all kinds of inspiration: they totally have books for everyone. Or the aforementioned liquor.

I know you can do it, Languishers! Think different, heartfelt, and lovely. Happy shopping.

No comments: