For many, the winter holidays mean gifts. Finding them, buying them, giving them, receiving them, using them, returning them, regifting them. I have several friends who are at their absolute happiest this time of year. They adore creating or hunting down the perfect, thoughtful gift for each and every friend and family member, and delight in being surprised by the gifts they receive in turn. (I’m looking at you, Trin.) I long for that skill set and gift-related mentality. Because I find the complexities of gift giving and receiving to be utterly perplexing.
I have a fairly small home that has become packed with belongings after more than ten years of residence. Husband Mike and I both enjoy shopping for clothing, art, gadgets, and most of the items that are deemed gift-appropriate. So we tend to request specific items from our families. They’ve come to accept this, but there’s still a little disappointment whenever we hand over our wishlists because a few of our rellies would rather surprise us with items they’ve selected on their own. I have no idea how to handle this. Still. I don’t want them to feel like we’re sucking the fun out of the holiday season, but I strongly prefer to give a few hints as to what I could most use when it comes to … well, stuff. Goods. Purchase-ables.
And when it comes to gift giving, I become overwhelmed instantly. The mere thought of giving a loved one something they don’t like or cannot use fills me with anxiety. I end up demanding wishlists from my folks. And while it feels anticlimactic to give them an entirely unsurprising item, at least I know I didn’t guess wrong.
For the past couple of years, we’ve dealt with this in two ways: The adults have skipped holiday gifts altogether, or chosen a charity and all pitched in for a donation. This makes me so much happier. I have a passel of nephews who are at prime gift-receiving ages, and watching them dive into their games and toys is an absolute hoot. But the rest of us? We buy what we need on our own throughout the year, so the pressure-cooker of holiday gifts seems like a stress we can easily eliminate.
How do you navigate the politics of gifts? Do you do wishlists? Does it seem like there are some adult-specific social landmines littered around the holiday gift landscape? I mean, it’s no big if kids give a holiday wishlist …
Image courtesy ‘smil.