Sunday, December 22, 2013

what NOT to give this Christmas: 5 things that no one wants to find under their tree!

I'm all about accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative.   Today we are focusing on eliminating the negative and making sure there are no fake smiles being flashed  around on Christmas morning.  Some people are excellent at gift giving while others just can't seem to get it right.  There are plenty of blogs that will tell you what you should get for your loved-ones this year but very few of them will be as helpful as me! What are the 5 absolute no-no's for gift giving this year... or any year.

#1 Random Bath Item Gifts

You know that episode of the Big Bang Theory when Sheldon hugs Penny for the first time? 

The bath item gift baskets meant nothing compared to that hug.  I still have body lotions and shower gels and bubble bath from my teen years -that is more than ten years ago!!  I do not see myself using them either. There was a time when I used to like the idea of bubble bath and other beauty products.  I still say that a cute sample size bubble bath or facial cream is a nice idea for young girls (especially when they think they're too cool for a teddy bear) who are happy to experiment.  By the time a girl has made it to her twenties she should have developed a beauty routine and will probably have a preferred brand.  If you want to give a lady some sort of pamper product do a bit of research and find out what they use and like.  If you think that's too personal or too expensive a modest amount spent on an appropriate gift card or certificate is a far better option.  

#2 Same Old Same Old

I have developed a little tradition with many of my friends and family that I give everyone a calendar for Christmas.  When I was on a strict budget, calendars were an easy, inexpensive and practical gift for anyone and everyone on my list.  Since becoming a little richer and a little more creative, I now only give calendars to a select few.  However, I have one friend who insists that I give her a calendar every year.  She relies on it!! If the tradition has been set, that's great.  I know a few people who give a different Christmas decoration each year.  That's a nice idea.  I think I might not be making my point very well on this one. Let's try again. 

Tradition is great, but don't assume that everyone enjoys your stress-free gift giving system.  Some people prefer to buy their own calendars.  One year, I bought a diary for my sister -  I'm never doing that again!! It was the wrong size, the wrong layout, and even the wrong colour.  Sis, is quite particular, and so am I.  Remember that the polite and fake smile will come out if you have given a dud gift, so don't assume that the lack of complaint means that everyone loves your gift.  Mix it up this year and see who notices.  
One other thing about the 'same old' concept: Buying the same for everyone might make life easier for you but it doesn't say much for the relationships.  Imagine if you spent hours shopping for the perfect gift for a friend and then receive a token box of chocolates the same as everyone else.  Don't get me started on the obligation gifts either.  At the very least personalise the gifts by giving something extra that is individual.  Everyone gets a calendar - great!  But consider the images and match them to your friends.  Add a book or a gift voucher to your friend's favourite store.  

#3 Food 

Unless it is on their wishlist - click here to read more about wishlists - don't give food.  You don't know how long it will be sitting under a tree and/or you might not know what dietary requirements your mates have.  This is especially true for the relatives you haven't seen in a while or the friends that aren't snapping pics of everything they put in their mouth and posting it on facebook!  It also smacks of lazy same old gift giving.  Think before you buy.  If you are giving food, ensure ingredients are clearly labelled and check for allergies and favourite varieties.  Example: the BFF and I share a love for twirly chocolate wafer sticks and we always gave each other a tin of these for Christmas.  If the foodie gift prompts a memory or comes with a recipe book that makes it special, then by all means go for it.  But, if you are giving everyone a tin of short bread biscuits, most of them will end up in the bin.  

#4 Wishlist Wanna-be's

This one is really important.  In fact it probably should be first.  If your circle of friends (and or family) have chosen to go the 'wishlist' path, then do it properly.  There are several apps, websites and even store based services that will help you set up a wishlist (much like a wedding registry).  If you choose to purchase something from the wishlist make sure you know all the necessary details about the item. Gift details include colours, make and model, approximate prices, sizes, fabrics or materials used to make it, locations and stores that stock them.  Don't go and find a cheap alternative or settle for second best.  If it isn't just right, don't get it.  Wouldn't you rather give the perfect gift, than spend money on something second rate.  Either purchase something else on the list or find a gift voucher for one of the stockists so your friend can decide what is perfect.

#5 Just because you love it

We all have our little quirks and gadgets, bits and pieces, great discoveries that we love.  There will probably be at least one friend who shares your interests or will appreciate having the same thing as you and will love it just as much.  But, the latest techie-trend, fad diet or late night TV giveaway might not be everyone's cup of tea.  Just because you love it doesn't mean that they will.  Christmas is not the time for a crusade.  If you want to share your new love with people then perhaps bring it along or tell them about it when there is a lull in the conversation.  Don't waste your money and their closet space by giving everyone a sample that they won't use.

There are only a few more shopping days to go, so make a list, check it twice and get back out there.  Now you know what NOT to buy, it will be a snap.  Maybe. 

Happy Christmas!