Disclaimer: If you are my friend, you have never given me anything stupid. I love your gifts! None of these stories are about you!
I woke up with the urge to start dispensing holiday advice. Not the decorating or cooking kind but the “I got invited to a shindig and I’m not sure what to bring” kind.
Long-time readers know that I like to recycle gifts I can’t use. I am sure I will resurrect my regifting advice at the proper time but not yet. My goal here is to catch you before you buy that absolutely stupid gift that you think is just perfect for someone.
Over the years I have gotten my share of “pink elephants.” I just love regifting but some end up in the trash. I am too embarrassed to put them on Craigslist. I can’t help feeling that the giver is an unskilled regifter, hit a sale or maybe this was on the first counter in the first drugstore (or Ollie’s) she stopped at on the way to my house.
If you don’t believe the last one I can tell you it happens. One of my good friends from the 1970s had a nice husband but he wasn’t a natural-born gift giver. In fact that was putting it mildly. She got a scarab bracelet two years in a row. One year she received a very masculine watch that was all they had at the drugstore where he stopped on Christmas Eve to get her gift. He was going for Tabu or some other out-of-style perfume (she was wearing Charlie at the time) but even that was sold out. They are divorced today but I’m sure it wasn’t about the gift giving. Maybe.
You are invited to someone’s house. It’s not always necessary to bring a gift especially if you do a lot of reciprocal activities with the hosts. If you want to take something make sure it’s usable but don’t expect them to serve or use it at the event.
Here are some thoughts on gifting:
- Don’t take flowers if the person is allergic, has a pet that eats them or doesn’t have any place to display them. Yes, I have seen someone put a bouquet on top of the refrigerator. If you want to bring the centerpiece, discuss it with the hostess beforehand or be content with it on the side table in the bathroom.
- Don’t take candy to a diabetic or someone who is dieting. I mean really dieting not just fantasizing about it. (You know what I mean. We all know people who fantasize about it so much that they believe they are actually dieting even if that’s a piece of cheesecake they’re eating.) That’s just cruel. I am not dieting nor am I diabetic so chocolate works for me.
- Wine or some other spirits are a good thing if your host drinks alcohol. They can be served or easily regifted. I made the mistake of taking a bottle of wine to a new friend who didn’t drink. Neither did her husband. Oops!
- Candles are wonderful but can be touchy. Again think about pets or allergies. Many people with pets do not burn candles for a couple of reasons. One is that the pet may tip it and start a fire and another is that animals are more sensitive to smells than we are so it’s like dousing your nose in perfume. Unless, of course, it’s a tuna-scented candle. Then my cats would LOVE it. They are partial to liver too.
- Another great idea is a froufrou food item from a fancy store, like Williams Sonoma. Make sure it’s not too weird. They have wonderful finishing sauces, designer vinegars and oils, and glazes for cooks and I love their dish towels, liquid hand soap and other nifty things they stock. Stay away from the cookware unless you want to mortgage your firstborn.
It’s always best to match the gift to the hostess if you can and make sure it doesn’t add more work for her. If you don’t know the hostess well enough, stick with something simple or perhaps a small gift card – Starbucks always works for me!
I have dropped enough suggestions for today. Enjoy your parties!