Jesus Christ. My husband reads stuff aloud to me on Sunday mornings. And his favorite subject matter these days? Whiny columns, usually written by men, about buying presents. Here's one. I bet you can find plenty. And Dave Barry's great gift guide has the start of another. And ever as I laugh (because these guys are funny) I think JEEEEEBUS, shut up.
Dudes? Gift buying is not rocket science.
Listen. No I mean it. Stop whining and PAY ATTENTION. Not to me--to the women or men or kids in your life. Here are the steps to buying the right gift:
Observe the person you're supposed to buy something for. You've had years with her? Good. That should make it EASIER, not harder. You've paid attention to what she wears so you know her taste in clothing. If you're really observant, you might even have noticed that that sweater is looking ratty and she likes opening boxes that contain nice sweaters.
That part is important. You've paid attention when she opens a present. So you know if she squeals with joy if she opens a socket wrench set, a nightgown or a book. If she's polite, she probably always squeals. So delve deeper. Talk about it after the fact. ASK HER.
DO NOT buy something for Generic Female. No, no, GODDAMN IT, no.
The point of buying a gift is that you are thinking about a particular person and what she likes and cares about. You are not thinking about what the house needs or you want--unless those things happen to correspond to exactly what he or she would like to see in a box. YOU ARE acknowledging that you FUCKING PAY ATTENTION TO WHO SHE or HE IS and HIS OR HER interests ONLY. NOT YOURS or the kids'.
If you can't manage that much, then by God say so. Maybe give him or her money along with a really groveling loving card. That might actually work (and might be exactly the right thing for her). Emphasis on the loving and groveling and maybe a lot of money or really big gift card. Spell her name right and make sure she knows It's All Your Fault. Don't say a word about how hard it is to buy for him or her.
Sure, he or she might be passive aggressive and refuse to make clear what he or she likes ["if you loved me you'd know" is a horrible thing to hear--I know that even though I'm writing exactly that all over this post.] And once the frikken horribly holiday is over, talk about this issue and explain what YOU need because you're missing some kinda observation gene, BUT DO NOT GROUSE ABOUT THIS NOW.
When the time comes to open the gift, this lack of appropriate love token is going to have to be cast as YOUR problem. Not his or hers. Own it, even if you don't get why it should be your fault. Just believe it's your failing--or at least make a sincere effort to believe it.
So to reiterate and expand:
DO NOT TRY TO MAKE HIM or HER feel guilty for having particular tastes or desires.
DO NOT BUY the first thing you see at the Hallmark store--unless you know for sure he loves everything Hallmark.
DO NOT BUY something just because you like it--particularly if you suspect it's something she or he hates. You are NOT BUYING FOR YOU or YOUR TASTES.
DO NOT BUY something advertisers tell you women or men like, (as shown by this long extremely funny ad that just continues the dreary stereotyping, but by God made me laugh out loud.) Advertisers don't know her or him. YOU do. And if you don't, PAY ATTENTION.
JUST PAY GODDAMN ATTENTION.
OH someone rather close to me pointed out the obvious:
Some people don't like getting presents. .... Respect that. DON'T GIVE GIFTS TO SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T WANT ANYTHING. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT THE PERSON YOU LOVE WANTS or DOESN'T WANT.
It's all about them, ya idjit, not YOU.