Gift giving is traditionally a tricky art. Just as surely as someone today will give their loved one the wrong video game or movie, somebody years ago probably gave their loved one the wrong doll or book or butter churn. The screwing up of gift-giving is an inevitability.
Does this have to happen? Of course not. Getting the right gift for Christmas, or a birthday, or any special occasion, is not that difficult. All that’s required is an attention to detail and the willingness to go out of one’s way to get the right thing. Yet millions of people each year continue to blunder with their presents, and their social standing suffers as a result.
Below are 10 mistakes people regularly make when picking out a gift, whether it’s for Christmas or not. Try not to commit them, lest the result is a not-terribly-convincing smile of fake gratitude and an uttered ‘It’s… wonderful’.
1.) The buyer doesn’t know the person for whom they’re buying. Doing at least a cursory amount of background work on the subject of a gift is a staple for proper buying. Without that knowledge the buyer could wind up with virtually anything, and the chances of that anything falling in line with the likes and dislikes of the receiver are minimal.
2.) The buyer disregards the likes and dislikes of the person for whom they’re buying. Let’s say that the subject of the gift is a football fan. Why would anyone in their right mind buy him a hockey stick? This foible is often the subject of incomplete information rather than no information at all, but is just as disastrous.
3.) The buyer bases their gift on their own likes and dislikes. This is a recipe for disaster, as not everyone has the same tastes. Indeed, this path can result in presents that are downright insulting, depending on the buyer. A big dish of yummy seasonal nuts for somebody who’s allergic to nuts? Ouch.
4.) The buyer waits until the last minute to get a gift. The closer the calendar gets to December 25th, the emptier the stores will be. The results of these late shopping sprees are… underwhelming, at best.
5.) The buyer gets the first thing they see. This, like the previous mistake, is usually symptomatic of someone who didn’t plan ahead. These gift-givers will snag whatever catches their eye first, with little attention to their target’s personality and hobbies. Tisk.
6.) The buyer tries to go as cheap as possible. Yes, Christmas doesn’t have to drain the bank account, but it shouldn’t be the refuge of the hopelessly thrifty, either.
This may even extend to buying used gifts at a lower price which, once in the hands of the receiver, turn out to be inferior or even broken.
7.) The buyer attempts to re-gift something they already own. Unless the buyer is extremely sly, they’ll be labeled as cheap to the extreme – particularly if the re-gift is something the subject gave them a few years prior. That’s a double insult.
8.) The buyer gets the subject a gift card. Yes, this is not always a bad thing, but only so long as that person’s tastes are taken into account. Getting someone a gift certificate for Old Navy when they’re clearly gothic in their clothing tastes is a poor choice.
9.) The buyer gets the subject something with an intended message. A workout DVD for someone who’s getting a bit chubby? This can result in an out-and-out war between the two parties. Ouch.
10.) And, last, the buyer does everything perfectly with their presents – and then gets the tags mixed up on the packages. The resulting exchanges can, and will, turn ugly.
There’s little reason to mess up with gift-giving, as most recipients will make their preferences quite clear if asked. In short, if somebody’s proving a mystery at Christmas, do the proper thing and find out what they want from the source: their mouths, their brain.