Christmas Gifts

Some years ago a friend of mine came into my office at work shaking his head and looking like he lost his best friend.  I asked him what was wrong.  He said he had “messed up” somehow with his wife’s Christmas presents.

It was Christmas Eve about 3:00 PM and I wondered how he could already be in trouble.  He explained he and hsi wife decided to go ahead and exchange gifts the prior night since they would be going to family Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  He said he got his wife a gift that she had asked for on multiple occasions over the last six months.  He indiacted he spent time choosing the right model so she would have the best option available.  He gave his wife a vacuum cleaner, the best one he could find.  Upon seeing it she burst into ytears and ran up the stairs.  She closed the bedroom door and creid for hours.  Mike said he got very little sleep thinking about how this went wrong.

I could not help but laugh at first, then told him he misread her wants, not her needs.  I exxplained to him that to his wigfe the vacuum cleaner was a work tool.  In spite of his appreicating a new hammer etc. She would not want that as a gift. 

We had a few hours before the retail stores closed.  So I told him if he was willing to buy his way out of the problem I would help him.  He agreed.  I sped to the mall and we enyterned an upscale department store.  We stopped at the fragances and bought a very nice frangance set she had mentioned.  He thought that was enough, but I told him not yet.  We went to the clothing area and purchased a $100 gift certificate.  In spite of his wishes to get her lingerie I explained that was for him not her.  Next we went to the jewelry department and bought her a nice set of ear rings.  In all he spent about $900.  The items were wrapped nicely and we left.

A few days later Mike retrune dto work with a big smile and told me the plan worked.  He told her the vacuum was for the house not her.  Then he gave her the gifts he bought.  She was thrilled with the choices.  He was not sleeping on the couch any longer.

Buying gifts for others, especially Christmas gifts provides a challenge.  People have more stuff and anything you buy might not be something they like or want.  My parents gave up buying gifts for each other years ago.  They would give each other a $20.00 bill and then it was reciprocated.  I think it was the same bill.  No problems with Christmas traffic at the mall using this method.  They also did not have to spend hours thinking about what to give. 

A lot of Christmas gifts get exchanged.  Some people decide to regift unwanted items.  You just have to be careful not to regift to the eprson who gave you the original gift!  I am sure the percentage of gifts returned or regifted is high.  So is there a better way?

After a few years of trying the traditional methids of gift giving, I decided to try something that works better and reduces the time at the retail stores exchanging items.

Gift card work pretty well as long as you choose the card properly.  I bought a gift card at Christmas and the store closed the next week before the gift card could be used!  Gift cards are my least favored gift giving plan.
Have the person share a wish list with you.  Maybe you can share a document using an application.  Let it build for birthday, Christmas, etc.  The risk is always that they expect a higher proce gift than you can provide.
Set a budget with the person you will exchange gifts.  Thsi works best with couples.  Then go to the mall and shop togetehr.  Use your phone and ask them to go look at a particular item in a specified store.  While they do their own approval of a possible gift you look for the gift items you want.
My favorite method is to have my wife look online at things I suggest, using a shared app, and things she thinks she wants.  When she decides what she wants I approve it and she orders it using my credit card.  Thsi way she gets exactly what she wants and no exchanges.  Many of us men had rather buy another item than go through the exchange process.  I always find two or three items to give her as a surprise though. 
The most rewarding shopping tip I have is remain attentive to what teh eprson really likes.  It is usually a higher proced item.  Take her shopping at the place they ahve it and ask her to show it to you for rference.  Then buy it in front of her, but make her wait to get it at Christmas.  This works well for me.  After doing this a few years she has a good idea of my plans though.

Some people seem devious is the gifts they give.  I recall how my former wife gave me a TV that I had talked about.  We had discussed it and how it would look good in the den.   On Christmas Eve I was shocked when a truck arrived and deliveered the TV we had discussed.  I was surprised she got it.  It was not in the budget range we had at that time.  A few weeks later I was surprised again when I received a booklet of coupons to make payments on the TV, in my name!  Her gift was the purchase.


Women say that men provide a challenge in buying gifts.  We actually are quite simple.  Men and boys are just different by the type and proce of their toys.  Did you ever buy a little boy clothes for Christmas and he was excited about them?  I rest my case.  Men are no different.  Women love to get clothes, shoes, bags, shoes, and more bags.  You just have to choose well or let them choose and you buy.  The lesson is that buy people what they might want, not what you might want.  Men will accept and use clothes, ties, etc. from our loved ones.  Yet, please try to get your man something else also.


Gag gifts used to provide a lot of laughs and fun.  Some families stopped giving regular gifts and opted for gag gifts.  Regular gifts kept growing in cost but gag gifts could stay affordable.  My brother and I shared some gag gifts over the years.  Thsoe are the only gifts I remember.


Birthdays, anniversary, Valentines, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and on and on give us lots of opportunities for gift giving.  We really should focus on the thought and love and not the actual gift.  Until we get there we should get the gift giving right.  If you do not, the person may chnage their view of who we are as a person.