When it’s too late for the perfect gift

Dorothy-RosbyAah, the perfect gift. You’re loved one will cherish it for years to come. They’ll tell everyone they know about it. And they’ll think of you fondly every time they use it, which you hope will make up for the way they think of you the rest of the time.

But time is running out. The chances of finding the perfect gift this late are as slim as the chances that a child really will settle for his two front teeth for Christmas. At this point, you’re far more likely to purchase one of the following types of gifts for your loved one. They’ll tell everyone about these too.

The gift you give because you want the receiver to have it. In fact, you need the receiver to have it—like when you give your spouse cooking lessons, or your messy co-worker a desk organizer or your college-aged child a broom for his dorm room. You’re convinced that if you wrap a hair remover gadget or a gift certificate for tattoo removal in beautiful paper and put a giant bow on it, the recipient will see it as a thoughtful gift instead of what it really is: an underhanded way to bring them around to your way of thinking.

The gift you give because you want it for yourself. Based on the shape, size and weight of the packages under the tree, you’re pretty sure no one got it for you, so you buy it on a whim. You feel guilty immediately, as you should. But you tell yourself the same story you plan to tell your loved one: You bought them the $400 fishing rod or the home brewing equipment so that the two of you can spend more quality time together. The danger is that, out of spite, they may not even let you have it in the divorce.

The gift you give because you don’t have a single idea and you’re flat out of time to come up with one. The pressure is on. The store is crowded with panicked shoppers fighting over the last Stinky Pig game. You’ve heard the Chipmunks sing Christmas Don’t Be Late, one too many times over the intercom. And you know yourself well enough to know that if you don’t get out of this store fast, someone is going to get run over and not by a reindeer.

At times like this, some people opt for gift cards. And gift cards do have a lot of benefits, the main one being recipients appreciate them even though it means they get stuck doing their own shopping.

But you think gift cards are too impersonal and besides, you don’t want the recipient to know how cheap you are. So you choose what? A gift that will give your loved one a head start on their next garage sale. A gift that has you swearing next year you’ll “know before you go.” A gift that will inspire your loved one to say with sincerity those two little words, “Gift receipt?” No doubt about it; someone is getting a Talking Trout this year, proving once again that it truly is better to give than to receive.

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