I just read a hilarious article by genius writer and comedian Dave Barry where he tries to help out his fellow man with a holiday gift giving guide. Men are really terrible at giving gifts, and being a man himself, he sympathizes and tries to do his part to make a difference – or not. He does one of these every year and they’re always fantastic. I honestly don’t know how they find so much junk to buy. You probably couldn’t give away most of those things and yet there are people making and selling them, so there’s got to be at least a couple of suckers buying them. Take the time to read his guide as it will bring much laughter to your day. Regardless of how happy you think you are, you will always be a little happier after a few lines from Dave Barry.
I’m writing a holiday gift guide of my own, but I won’t look for lunatic items and try to persuade you to purchase them with your hard earned tuppins. It won’t be hilarious, but it’ll be helpful. And given the fact that there’s no way to compete with the awesomeness that is Dave Barry, I’ll settle for a serious guide that I’m positive will be helpful if not a life saver.
This is for all of you gift challenged individuals who end up giving crazy man gifts to your sweet and sensitive wives; or to you women who give crazy gifts you buy on the sidewalk from batty old hags (you know who you are).
Here are a couple of guidelines to follow regardless of whom you’re shopping for, what you’re buying, or how much you want to spend:
Always be sure that if you’re going to be giving someone a practical gift, or something they need, that you make it as special as possible. If it’s for a woman, or girl, it should be sparkly and shiny, smell good, or at least be really, really pretty or cute. Never give something useful that is also ugly, they can buy that for themselves. No one wants to unwrap a gift and stare into a box full of brown shoe polish or some such other nonsense.
Only be creative with your gift giving if you know the person really, really well. It’s better to be one of the 4 unimaginative people who give them a T-shirt than to be the fool who embarrasses himself and the receiver by presenting them with year’s supply of condoms.
Most of the time you can make up for giving someone a simple gift by giving it to them in a pretty box or tied with a beautiful ribbon. Boxes may be a bit more costly, but paper and ribbon are not and there’s nothing more beautiful than plain colored wrapping paper with a thick contrasting ribbon, and a huge over-the-top bow.
Here are 10 practical, useful and pretty gifts you can give:
1) Incense. A box full of it. It’s nice to get incense from L’Occitane, but you don’t have to buy the most expensive stuff in order to make a nice gift. Just get a pretty box, not expensive, put some wax paper in, and fill it up with your favorite incense. Make sure to tie it with a beautiful bow and you’re all set.
2) High end shower gear. This includes a nice shower cap, a cool back brush or really awesome loofah. A fluffy towel with embroidered initials (you’d be surprised how inexpensive it is to do this), a comfy robe.
3) Toiletries. Items that fall under this category would be shampoo and conditioner the person might never splurge on and buy for their own penny pinching self, so this is the only time they’ll get some extravagant items for personal hygiene. Soap, liquid or otherwise. When buying soap, make sure it looks well wrapped (rustic old fashioned packaging is the best), comes from a good store or brand, and of course smells good. In general this is a good gift for someone you don’t know really well as a set of small soaps to decorate the hallway bathroom is an impersonal and practical gift. One massive bar is always impressive as well. Lotions are a good idea, just make sure they’re not heavily scented. Unlike soap, they don’t wash off after using.
4) Slippers. Of all kinds, really. Nice terry cloth slippers, fluffy puffy slippers, or just simple Havaianas. Make sure you take some time to wrap them well, but this a practical thing you can give. The cool thing about slippers is, it doesn’t matter how many pairs you have, they’re always welcome. Keep in mind that not everyone likes the colors you like, so keep the colors and design low key and minimalistic.
5) Alcohol. If you know your friend drinks, alcohol is a wonderful and very useful gift. When in doubt, buy spirits. Port and other liquors are best for women and gay men. Wine and whiskey are excellent for men. When you go to a store let the sales associate know how much you intent to spend and have them recommend you the best option for your cents. Many times a very good bottle of wine or liquor won’t break the bank. Even a fantastic beer basket can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. Have fun and be creative. Lay the bottle in a box with contrasting wax paper or fabric, like red, burgundy, green or beige.
6) Olive oil. Really nice olive oil your friend or acquaintance would never buy on a normal basis. This is fantastic to have at any meal, and a really good olive oil can cost as much as a good bottle of wine and makes a lovely addition to a quaint dinner party. Flavored olive oils are great fun and can often be purchased in smaller bottles making it more affordable.
7) Tea. Imported, expensive, delicious tea. Here you can either go expensive or keep it light. The way to do this is the following: if you want to spend a good amount of $ on a friend who is a tea fiend, buy a tea box (nice wooden boxes with dividers and usually hand painted) -they don’t cost as much as you think – then fill it up with assorted teas, different brands and flavors. If you don’t want to spend that much, get them either just the box, or just the tea.
8) Kitchen goodies. This category is so vast, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Some things I can think of off the top of my head are: apron, tea cup with brewing filter, tea pot, kettle, coffee cup, glasses, beer stein, knife, utensils (whisk, tongs, peeler), silicone muffin tray, table cloth, kitchen hand towels and dish towels…. etc, and the list goes on.
9) Books. Used or brand new books. They don’t have to be hardcover, although that is really nice. Classics are always good and if at all possible give a book you’ve already read. This makes the gift not just a gift, but a personal recommendation as well.
10) Magazines. Everyone is into something and that something will most likely have one or more magazines geared exclusively towards that interest. You can buy one or more magazines, imported or not, you can make a one year subscription for your friend, whatever you do, make sure it’s a good magazine and has a nice sleek cover, not one of those grainy, ugly things. Take a look at it first and if you think it’s aesthetically pleasing, then by all means, go for it.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Gift Guide (if I can think of a few more ideas for you).