Posted on / by Jon

Gift Giving Guide

So it’s the holidays. We celebrate the gift of Jesus to the world and we do that by giving gifts to everyone we love / feel obligated to give a gift to. Gifts are a pretty important thing to how our society shows and receives love. It is even one of the 5 love languages. Getting a good gift actually ranks pretty high on my love language list. #2 of the 5.

But this blog was not inspired by convincing people to give me good commercials. It actually was inspired by a TV commercial. In said commercial, people and dogs are pulling large things out of small boxes and supposedly they are the most awesome gifts. This older black gentleman pull a wintery sweater out of the box and seems to like the sweater. On this I call SHANANIGANS!!!! A. That sweater was ugly. B. He was just being gracious and acting like he liked it. C. Shame on his wife for getting the man you vowed to love for the rest of your life a freaking ugly sweater. This atrocity cannot stand. So here I write.

Here are my thoughts on good gift giving. First some overall thoughts that will apply to this whole piece. This is not just about Christmas gifts. Assume birthdays and other gift giving times as well. If possible, give the gift receipt. It just helps simplify things if you missed the mark. :).

My Definition of a Gift: An unnecessary extravegance that speaks to your knowledge and love of the person receiving the gift.

Since this is where our intro ended, I will start here. Clothing under most circumstances is not an acceptable gift for many many reasons. Let me ask you some important questions. Do you know the correct size? Do you yourself have good style? Do you know the style of the person you are buying for? Did they ask for clothing?

Under normal circumstances, I guarantee that the answer to most of those is N-O. And that’s just the start of the problems. Most people, especially parents of teens and young adults, only shop for clothes with the current season in mind. Christmas is in the winter so obviously my trendy college student would love a really ugly Christmas sweater as a gift. FALSE. You are wasting your money and making them feel guilty the next year when you ask them to wear the sweater but they already exchanged it for something they actually would wear or use.

And if you are buying clothing for your young children, you’re just a bad parent. 🙂 Guess what, they don’t want clothes. They want toys and things to play with. Even toys that help them learn are better than clothes. You are their parent and as such should already be buying them clothes as they grow out of the old ones. A winter jacket that they can only wear this year is a necessity not a gift. Shame on you!

In the end, avoid clothing. I don’t care that your husband needs underwear. It is not a gift.

f50be4d3499c2a43b76785645bb2683f2. GIFT CARDS
Okay so this one is often a source of confusion. Are gift cards insensitive? Does a gift card show that you don’t know anything about the person you are giving the gift to? Is a gift card a cop out and proof that you gave up?

I understand those questions and where they are coming from. And in some instances they may be valid. But I would like to ease the pressure of this one. Gift cards are not the plague. In fact, I think they are a very good option. Some people, myself included, are very hard to shop for. They have very specific taste and things that they like. And there are some people who are gonna return what you get them regardless of whether it is a great gift or not.

Gift cards can also save a lot of time and can show just as much thought as a real gift if done right. Pick a card from some place you know the person loves. A card to Walmart or Target is heartless. “Let me get them a card where they can get anything and I’m off the hook.” BOO! Think harder than that. You know the person loves H&M or Guitar Center or even Lowes. Make the extra trip for something that will matter to them. Don’t just pick up some card while you are grabbing your groceries. Visa gift cards can be iffy too. If you are doing large sums of money, they are a great option. But if you are giving like $50, pick a good store they will like. It shows thought. But if you want to give me $1000 for a shopping spree, I will gladly accept a Visa gift card. :).

Dollar rain3. MONEY
Cold hard cash. Seems like a great option right? Everyone loves money right? Well yes and no. Cash really is pretty insensitive. Unless the person has asked for cash for a purpose, it really is just cash and shows no effort. Now if I am saving up to get something that you want to donate to, that is great. It does show that you know them and you want it to go towards this thing the person has wanted. Most likely though, it might be better still to get a gift card. Say I am saving up to get a PS4. A gift card to Best Buy dogears that money to that store. So when I go to get the PS4 that money is ready and waiting.

Here is the hardest part about cash. Especially the older you get. Cash somehow always finds its way to the menial. It finds its way to a cheeseburger quicker than an actual gift. It makes its way to the general fund of the checking account and lost in the shuffle of bills. While that sounds helpful and very well may be, its just lost in the shuffle. Being someone who receives some semblance of love from gifts, it disappearing into bills is one of the more disappointing things that can happen. A gift card means that it has to be spent at that store in the end meaning I have to spend it on something that I want there. I remember right now that I got my AppleTV and my iRig because my brother and sister inlaws got me gift cards to the Apple Store. Great gift cards.

Now quick addendum… Uncles and Aunts of older nephews and nieces, please give cash. There is a high chance you actually don’t regularly see or spend time with them. Meaning you actually don’t know much about them. They will appreciate the cash. They will not appreciate the random ugly shirt that they will never ever wear. Or you could be getting that Walmart gift card which is just blah. So cash or Visa gift cards that they can spend anywhere is probably the right way to go.

1174588_10153165134465464_949995317_n4. TRAVEL GIFTS
This section has its own flare to it. And is often misused and creates a pile of junk in your house. Your dad goes on an awesome trip overseas. Obviously, you want a souvenir. In your mind you envision awesome things that can only be found in this exotic place. Or cool things that can be gotten cheaper overseas. Your father returns with a white T-shirt with the countries flag on it or the ugliest black snap-back you have ever seen also emblazened with the countries coat of arms. You are heartbroken.

Please think outside the box when you are traveling and looking to get something for someone. I know it takes a bit of extra time, but we all have closets full of shirts that said to us “I forgot till I got to the airport gift shop.” Goodwill does not need more of these atrocities to fashion hanging on their racks.

My brother Alex went to Germany this past summer for a fellowship he was doing. He asked what I wanted. I really had no idea but I knew he would come back with something cool. And he did. He gave me a really cool bottle of a sipping liquor only found in Germany. It’s very cool. My dad on the other hand, while I love him, travels a lot and we no longer ask him to bring us something. I don’t need more unsightly t-shirts or to have my kids in green and yellow Jamaica jumpers. I know they are cute, but those will never be worn again but for that picture.

In the end, my point is to just try a little harder. Think a little harder. Don’t just get distant Aunt Gertrude an ugly scarf because you think you have to. Either put in the effort or don’t. She probably is not obligating you to a gift for her anyway. But if she is awesome Aunt Gertrude and you want to get her something, give it the time worthy of her awesomeness.

As for me, stick to the list or gift cards.