The perfect gift

Buying perfect gifts is a skill which I don’t have. I admit it. I don’t pay enough attention and then shazam I am at the store and pressure is on.

There are many people like me but most won’t admit it. In fact some think they are great gift givers. I am grateful for those people because they  give us great fodder for blog posts and help us perfect the art of regifting. I am a great regifter!

I can even struggle with buying gifts for the beloved husband – does he take a large or an extra-large shirt?

Damn! I’m married to the man. I should know!

Of course with him, it’s easy. I just go up to his closet and look. Then I buy him things that I like.

Prior to me he was a “manly man.” Shirts and sweaters were all dark muted (read boring) colors. Then I came along with clear jewel tones and pastels. He is gorgeous in a plaid shirt with shades of aqua and teal and stunning in clear shades of blue.

Other people don’t appreciate me breaking into their house to see what sizes they wear and what stuff they need.

Perhaps “need” is a bad word. Gifts should be extras you don’t NEED but are FUN.

Then there are those people who think of Christmas like big game hunting. What can I get for next to nothing? It doesn’t matter if it’s the right color or size. It’s 70% off! Doesn’t matter if the recipient is allergic! Sales this year are fabulous. At least so we think.

Does anyone besides me think that the retailers jack up the prices so they can put them on sale?

Does anyone besides me think that manufacturers make a slightly inferior product to sell cheaper?

Yes, they do. I read an article about this. Some major designers have a “cheaper line.” A good way to check is pattern-matching. In premium brands patterns match at the armhole, under the armhole and across the button placket. They match exactly, not just sort of. So if your Ralph Lauren doesn’t match well…..

The beloved husband and I say each year that we are not buying much for the other. After all, we go buy what we want, in the color we like and in the right size at any time. Seriously we do! In the last month a new ring (for me) and guitar (for him) appeared just like magic!  Sometimes we even get it on sale. Yay!

Yet come Christmas morning there are always some gifts to open. For someone as inept at buying gifts as I am, the pressure is overwhelming. Quick some chocolate here.

I have scored some real winners for the beloved husband. The pull-on snow overalls from LL Bean were a hit for snow shoveling. Then there have been losers. The purple stripe shirt ended up in the Goodwill pile.

My goal is to get to the place my brother and his wife are. They don’t bother going through the charade of exchanging exciting gifts. They buy what they want all year-long and for Christmas, they enjoy family…oh yes and cookies.

As a reminder Starbucks gift cards are always welcome here.


33 thoughts on “The perfect gift

  1. I’m a big fan of consumable gifts: homemade spice mixes, lip balms, lavender (or other) scented bath salts, fruit and herb cordials, chocolate truffles ….. rather than a gift that may just become more clutter in someone’s life, they’ll eat/drink.use it up!


  2. CH and I have spent the month of December buying gifties and we were naughty and didn’t wrap them, didn’t put them under the tree. Well no tree is up except for the foot and a half lighted ceramic tree that my Mom made us for our first Christmas we were married in 1974. We have been enjoying every moment of our “gifts to us” spluge. No presents Christmas morning, just good FOOD to look forward to for the day!


    • I keep trying to talk my husband out of exchanging gifts. We swap lists and then buy the stuff. I can buy it myself and probably with a coupon! He is a diehard about that though. I would also prefer to not put up a tree but again he is a bugger about that. I keep hoping next year…..there won’t be as much work!


  3. I usually worry about buying gifts and complain about being indecisive and waiting until the last month (not minute). But after I buy the gifts, I’m feeling great, even proud. I can’t wait to see the recipients’ delighted faces, because I know I’ve chosen something wonderful for each of them–or at least most of them.

    This evening I had dinner with the ladies in my critique group. I knew they would love the calendars I chose for them: the sophisticated, comic drawings for Emily, the vintage travel calendar for Maureen, and the “dancers in the world” for Paddy, who has just published a YA novel about a ballet dancer (“84 Ribbons”). And I was right: they loved their calendars. Fun!


  4. My favorite quote:

    Other people don’t appreciate me breaking into their house to see what sizes they wear and what stuff they need.

    I have an image of you in a ski mask scaling a fence. I like that you colorized your husband like a Turner Classic ala L.L.Bean, a staple in my life.
    And yes, Starbucks cards should be a given right. all year round. Wish they were open now, but I need to wait just 5 and half more hours before I tool on over.
    Cookies…your essay woke up my sweet tooth Kate. I believe there’s a Lorna Dune or two screaming from the cabinet. Excuse me while Lorna and I do a little business.


  5. I just told Hubby last night NOT to buy me too much because I don’t have that much for him. Of course, come Chiristmas morning I am sure I will have way more presents under the tree than he does. Sigh…


  6. We rarely exchange gifts because when you HAVE to buy something for someone, it turns into a chore and takes all the fun out of it. I am a firm believer that if I see something I know someone would love, I buy it right then and there and give it to them. I don’t put it in a closet until there is an “occasion”. Those are the best gifts-thoughtful, unexpected, and really mean something. The rest is just a lot of people spending a lot of money (sometimes money they don’t have) trying to create a feeling that can’t be created by gifts. Bah. Humbug.


    • That’s pretty much what I do too except for the beloved husband. He has been getting Christmas presents along with the occasional gift when I see it. Poor guy doesn’t always get an anniversary gift! (Do you call it a gift if you are married?) I am fortunate that in my family we haven’t exchanged gifts in decades. We just have Dan’s kids and of course the granddaughters so it’s not too bad. Since they live across the country, money works best. It was harder when I worked. The culture was much more of a present giving environment.


  7. We don’t do much gift shopping these days. Most of the people we used to shop for have everything they need . . . and LOTS of fun stuff too. With BFF’s family, it got to the point that we were just exchanging gift cards in a Round Robin style, which seemed silly. We bowed out of that Gift Exchange a few years ago.

    Now we send checks to our nieces and nephews, share a few homemade gifts (photos, stories, ornaments) with my family, and buy CHOCOLATE (or other consumables) for every one else.


  8. My husband and I just get each other some date nights for Christmas. Gift certificates to restaurants, mini-golf, movies…whatever. That way we have a big envelope of gift cards for whenever we can find a night to head out together.


  9. I once believed I was a super-gifter, back in the days of corporate salaries and performance bonuses. I had a knack for making a mental note all year long whenever someone mentioned something they had been looking for, or something they wanted to add to their collection, etc. Then, one year, I had a rather hilarious experience with my sister, and my super-gifting days were over. I learned I wasn’t so good at the game after all.

    It went like this: My sister and I were shopping at Bed, Bath, and Beyond together. Up and down the aisles we went, looking at practically every single item in the store. That’s how my sister shops. She peruses and touches and sniffs and listens, and waits for inspiration to strike. I’m more of a direct-and-to-the-point kind of shopper, but I had just come along for the ride anyway, so I followed her around the store, intending to get some good gift ideas. Her birthday wasn’t too far off, and I figured this was a great opportunity to score some inside scoop. As we went through the store, she would fondle some item or another, and remark how she had always wanted, for instance, an electric spice grinder, and wouldn’t I love one in my kitchen, too? So on, and so forth.

    So when her birthday rolled around, and I ended up gifting her with an electric spice grinder, she smiled and thanked me profusely. What a great gifter I had turned out to be! Really paying attention! Only it turns out she had been dragging me through the store all day to try to come up with some gift ideas of her own, for me, and guess what? Yep, she had already purchased an electric spice grinder for ME to give to me at Christmas. She couldn’t even re-gift it, since now she had TWO of them! We laughed at how poorly our gifting ability was working. I gave up any idea of being a wonderful gifter, and just stuck to those bargain items that they shovel out by the boat load every holiday season. And lots and lots of chocolate. 🙂


  10. “Does anyone besides me think that the retailers jack up the prices so they can put them on sale?” Yes, definitely. It sounds as though your brother and his wife have the right idea. By the way, I hope your husband is doing okay.


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