Thursday, 15 September 2011

Gift-giving dilemmas

When did something that is meant to feel good and charitable become a mind-bending nightmare? Who? How much? When? And what is appropriate? It's such a first world problem, but one we face throughout most of the year. Some thoughts on the perils of modern gift-giving:

The abundance of gift-giving events - Seriously. We have created so many celebratory events that seem to have gifts tied to them. I blame Hallmark. All they have to do is create a new card range recognising some non-event which then ties the possibility of adding a gift for good measure. Or maybe it's our desire for attention that creates these new events in our lives? Standard gift-giving events include birthdays, cultural holidays, weddings and babies. Branching out of these are new 'events' that some believe involve the need for gifts:
      • engagements
      • bridal showers
      • bridal kitchen tea (what on earth is this?)
      • hen's parties
      • house warmings
      • anniversaries
      • graduation
      • new job
      • retirement
      • Valentine's day
      • Mother's/Father's day

Cash please - I realise that these days a lot of people have lived with each for a long time before engagements and marriage and will often request money instead of gifts for these occasions. This annoys me. Probably because I'm the type of person that puts a lot of thought into gifts and giving cash just lowers me to the level of people that don't bother thinking at all. Cash in a card makes me think that it's a cash-prize for being clever enough to throw yourself a party. It's impersonal and people will judge your friendship and generosity on the amount you contribute.

How far does gift-giving extend? - A few years ago when I moved out of my parents home and Christmas came along, I grappled with the dilemma of who would be included on my gift-giving list. Immediate family was a given, but what about aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents, work colleagues and friends? In the end I added a couple of friends and grandparents into the mix. Any further and the occasion would have been unbelievably expensive.

Not opening gifts in the presence of the giver - I show up at a party. Fair enough, there's a lot of people there to talk to, but guests (like myself) that spend time thinking about the perfect gift don't appreciate it when there is a gift table and nothing gets looked at while guests are there. In buying the gift, I think about the surprised and happy look on your face as the gift is opened. This is doubly annoying when there's no recognition down the road like "Oh, thanks for that book. You know I looked everywhere for that title". You would think that I would get the same response (ie: none) if I brought nothing, but I doubt it. It would be noticed and I'd be labelled as a non-gift giver.

Anyone else have their own gift-giving peeves to share?


  1. Invited to a coworker's wedding next month... IT's an all day affair with a masquerade party at the end of the day in his bar. SOOOOOO perplexed on what to give. Very non traditional, so a nice crytal vase is out LOL On this occassion, I think cash is more appropriate, but how much???

    Another gift-giving peeve: glommers. How many cheap family members can "chip-in" and get to sign the card? really, I'd rather you just come and enjoy the celebration with me...

    My immediate fam is DH and mom. My cousins are like siblings. in laws are rarley seen. My BFF and her kids get spoiled...
    Holidays are fun... gifts get cut off when kids turn 18 and it's most important to the cousins to just all be together with the adults who are still alive! I'd rather spend $ on food and drinks to bring :-)

  2. Hey June, what about, instead of cash for the wedding, a voucher to an awesome restaurant? It's still technically cash, but they get a nice experience out of it.

  3. I think we are sisters from a different mother. I love reading your blog because so many of the things you say are things I can picture myself saying!

    My husband's family writes Christmas lists every year. Buying something not on the list is a no no. I find it annoying and insincere. Our first Christmas together he asked me to write a list. I said "you want me to do what?" It was (and still is) a foreign concept to me.

    My family is the polar opposite. We are a large, loud, and obnoxious bunch when we all get together. We give gifts for Christmas but it is more about being with family and eating good food. Gifts usually encompass everything from gag gifts to items from secondhand stores. Whatever the gift, rest assured that the wrapping will include several yards of tape (no scissors allowed).

    My husband and I got married in May. People were shocked that we didn't have a shower. We only had a reception to appease our mothers since we went to Hawaii with no family for the wedding. We begrudgingly created a registry after having so many people ask what we want.

    I think holidays in general are far too commercialized, but I'll save that rant for a different day.

    What is a Hen's party anyway?

  4. Hey Kinsey, maybe Hen's party is an Australian term I wasn't aware of. Basically just another name for a bachelorette party. Girls night/day out celebrating being single (well not really, because chances are you've been together for years and the marriage actually won't change much anyway) for the last time.

    So, at your husband's Christmases it's pretty boring because everyone knows what they're getting before they open the gifts? It goes back to putting thought into gifts. A family member had a birthday and I had no idea what to get him He has everything he needs, so I spent $50 on an anniversary pack of Jelly Bellys. 50 different flavours. Silly gift, but it was fun!

  5. GREAT IDEA! We are in NYC, so I can find an AWESOME place. Thanks!

    Kinsey... Think of your list like your letter to Santa LOL... But really, I love your Christmas ideas... we used to have friends we exchanged with like your no scissors and yards of tape deal. MY dh and the husband used to go crazy wrapping... duct tape, ziploc bags, tin time he used SWISS CHEESE to wrap! LOL

    I didnt register for my shower and no babies to shower for me so recently I created a dog registry LOL I figure, hey why the heck not? I've spent 1000s on baby and kid gifts for friends and family. It was done completely tongue in cheek and I had 2 relatives totally flake and get all wierd about the joke... oh well!