“Blue Gift” by David Castillo Dominici] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Gift exchanges can be an awkard thing for me.  I, like many women, am a bit of a puzzle because — unfortunately — I don’t always mean what I say.  This means that I do enjoy getting gifts, even though I tell people not to get me any.  And though I can feel gift-giving is a commercialized waste of time and resources, I do sometimes feel a sense of joy when I know someone has felt extra special receiving that great gift.Besides my mixed-signals on gift-giving and receiving, I’m also a fairly particular woman who is nearly impossible to shop for.  That can make things fairly awkward around birthday and holiday time.  However, every problem has a solution.  So, here are the ways I can best think of that could help me alleviate my gift-giving drama:

Problem #1: I don’t like waste.  The pretty trappings look great, but all I can think about is how they will soon be lining another landfill.

Solution: Bags are a nice compromise.  If get something in a bag, I WILL reuse it AND the tissue paper, if they are both in good condition.  Newspaper is also a great option.  You may think it looks tacky, but I love that it’s recyclable.

Problem #2: I don’t like to plan.  I enjoy many things, but trying to read people’s minds or remember that hint someone dropped me half a year ago, is not one of those things that I enjoy.  If by some miracle, I DO happen to remember something, I am ecstatic because I know I will not be wasting my time or the giftee’s because they will have exactly what they want.

Solution: Tell me exactly what you want.  Give me a list, if that makes the gift a better surprise for you.  I’m also super-fond of money and checks, which give the person an excuse to spend some money on something that is exactly what was wanted, but maybe not budgeted for.  This is also a great option for people who have their heart set on huge/expensive purchases.  You don’t want to pay for a cruise?  Of course not!  But, maybe I can go in a year when I compile my gifts!  As an example, Brian has asked for gift cards for his birthday and Christmas (which happen to be nearly back-to-back) so that he could purchase his latest technological desire.  Also, I recently used my birthday gifts to purchase the mini-netbook that I’d put off buying for years.

My godfather and I have gone one better: we set a price limit for the two of us, purchase our own gifts, and then let the other person know what “they” got for us.  We absolutely love this.  Yes, we may be a bit wacko, but what can I say?

Problem #3: What if you’re not a money/check kind of person but also can’t stand exchanging gifts that can’t or won’t be used? I used to be a fairly flexible, easy-going gift receivee; however,  I have become more of a healthy, environmentally-and-socially-conscious hippy with each passing day.  This means that the average store doesn’t have products that I would use, and I’m likely boycotting the place for some reason or other, anyway.

Solution: Compromise and share your beliefs about products.  If you’re not stuck on a particular store, I may be able to find similar products on “Made in America” sites.  If you’re looking for some pampering, how about some natural/organic pampering from companies like Shaklee?  What about getting something practical that anyone would use anyway, such as a gas card or a grocery store gift card?  You just might be helping someone pay the bills these days, or else that’s money that I’m not spending out of my pocket that I can now put toward that cruise or gadget I wanted!

Problem #4: There is nothing in particular the person wants and/or the person just isn’t in the holiday mood/or the person is broke and doesn’t want to exchange.

Solution: Don’t do the gift exchange. You can entirely opt out of gift-giving.  I have a friend who refuses to gift exchange, and I’m perfectly fine with that.  It has not affected our friendship whatsoever.  I have randomly gotten her a gift once or twice because I felt like it, but we avoid the holiday hassle.  I’ve also had friends come out and say “I’m broke, so don’t get me anything, and I’m not getting anyone anything.”  And again, that works out great.  If you still want to stay in the holiday spirit without the packaging,  other options are giving to charities, volunteering time, or taking your friends/family out. Why don’t you take yourselves out to dinner?  Or how about a movie?  Why not both?  Or stay in and make dinner together? My family has stopped exchanging on birthdays, and we either go out to a nice dinner, or stay in and do our home version of dinner and a movie.

Whatever our individual issues, the point is that holidays and gifts do not have to be the drama-filled experiences I fear them to be.  It is possible to  enjoy the experience of each holiday with a stress-free gift-(or non-gift!) exchange!

Comments on: "Mouth of a Gift Horse: Problems and Solutions of Awkward Gift Exchanges" (2)

  1. Every year I ask for nothing because I hate having to look pleased about receiving gifts that never seem to fit my personality. Thanks, how did you know I love gloves!

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