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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How To Give The Perfect Gift

I'm not gonna sugar coat it: I judge people who give bad gifts.

Yes, this goes entirely against the spirit of the holiday season, and maybe I'm just an exceptional Kris Kringle (hair toss), but I really don't understand people who wrap up a copy of WINE for Dummies, laugh when you open it while explaining, "Everyone knows Skylar can't say NO to MERLOT" (for the thousandth time, I like Cabernet Sauvignon, you thoughtless piece of trash), and sit back giving themselves a pat on the back for half-assing it through yet another birthday party for Jesus.

This is avoidable. You don't have to be the dud who everyone prays doesn't pick them for Secret Santa/Mysterious Maccabi! A few easy tips are all that stand between you and a genuine, "Wow! Thank you so much!" or this:

Step 1: Get your head out of your own ass - The holidays are not the time to change someone; we reserve that for 30th birthdays, interventions, and serious relationships. Giving a friend a box set of Josh Groban's best duets because you yourself are a Grobanite is not a gift, it's sadism with a bow on top. If you attend aerial yoga four nights a weeks and think everyone should attend aerial yoga four nights a week and cornered your petrified sister-in-law after dinner to discuss the overwhelming calmness brought on by swaying savasana, you're just being a holly jolly jackass when everyone unwraps silk hammocks and nods at you with thinly-veiled contempt.

Step 2: Listen, Linda - I am an elephant--I forget nothing. I still remember a guy I was seeing in 2010 mentioning that when he got home from school as a kid, his mom would make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on rye while he watched Captain Planet. I literally have zero use for this information now, but it's stuck in there for life. The key to being an excellent gift-giver is not to rely on what the recipient mentions they want between November 29 and January 1; it's reaching all the way back to May when they talked about how much they loved boudin sausage on their recent visit to New Orleans and signing them up for a Cajun cooking class. How can you not get the warm and fuzzies from knowing you gave the perfect gift they didn't even know they wanted?

Step 3: Stand and Deliver - The above being said, if a loved one asks for something specific, don't go nuts trying to outdo yourself when there wasn't even a competition. Your cousin wants a book on Moroccan culture? Don't buy her a plane ticket to Marrakesh, just give her the freaking book. Most people, myself included, feel like this is the one time of year they can express their want for something without coming off like Veruca Salt; don't make me feel even more unnecessarily guilty by going completely overboard with my simple, "if it's not too much trouble" request.

Step 4: Change it up - We get it, your dad is a Packers fan. How many DVD's can he possibly watch highlighting their 1967 season? How much Green Bay barware can he really drink out of? What is the man going to do with a chunk of grass from Lambeau Field?! You have to realize when enough is enough. While he may be thrilled with end zone seats to the Packers vs. Bears game (duh), if you give him a Fat Head of Jerry Kramer - SURPRISE! - you're paying off your own student loans from now on, fucker.

Step 5: Enjoy it - If you view holiday shopping as a chore, you're 99% of what's wrong with the world (the other 1%: the fact that American Idol is still on the air. What the hell are we even doing). I'd venture to guess that the children of the middle-aged mom I witnessed viciously scream at a Foot Locker employee over the lack of color choices for Nike Hyperdunks would rather just receive a plain old basketball and call it a year. If you're getting bent out of shape over a 20%-off coupon, you need to shred your credit cards and check yourself. Hard. This season is supposed to be fun; don't ruin it for the rest of us just because you didn't manage to snag the last Nerf N-Strike Elite Nerf Cam ECS-12 Blaster. The BOOMco. Rapid Madness Blaster will suffice.