Thursday, December 30, 2010

Focusing On the Present.

Giving presents is easy. Oh sure, some may claim to be stressed about the possibility that the recipient won’t enjoy or appreciate what you spent minutes picking out for them. But in reality, most people, regardless of what you wrapped up in your finest tacky Santa Snowman Rudolph Jingle Balls Birthday paper, will put on a happy face and give you a big ol’ hug and/or kiss and wish you a Merry McSomething. If you know the person well enough, or they simply have no pokerface, then you may indeed go home feeling like shit, knowing you had a shitty gift. But no matter what the case may be, just assume the best and give in to whatever their reaction is. Don’t try and dissect if it’s fake or not, by staring them down and asking dumb questions. 

“Are you sure you like it?”
“Is it the right size?”
“You don’t already have it do you?”
“Bla bla bla fuckin’ blabadee bloo?”

These questions are like a festive gift oriented version of “Do I look fat in these jeans?”. Regardless of their real answer, or how they feel about your gift, the answer will, in most cases, be a firm “I Love It”. They are already put enough on the spot by having you (and everyone else) watch their every facial expression. Honestly, is an added interrogation really necessary? So, don’t do that. In short, receiving presents is the trickiest, and that is when you are really in the hot seat.

There are essentially five situations you can find yourself in after opening a gift.

I Love It.

In this scenario, there is usually no need to act or pretend. You can be very open about how great the gift was, and dance around to your heart’s content. The only exception to this rule is if you are married and the gift did not come from your spouse. In this case, you may show your happiness, but there should be slightly less rejoicing than there was at the opening of your spouse’s gift to you. Otherwise, Lucy, you will have some ‘splaining to do.

“Oh man, that’s AWESOME. Best present of the year, hands down” he tooted not realizing that his wife looked down upon him with a cold stare that could freeze-kill most babies. Once he caught wind of the stare in his keen peripheral vision, he assured the crowd, “… after the Snuggie that my wife gave me, of course. Let’s reiterate shall we, number one present of the year, Snuggie from wife, number two, this amazing thoughtful present.”

… and scene / divorce.

I Hate It.

Unless it is part of some kind of office party Yankee Swap, openly admitting a present’s suckiness is bad form. You can’t ever let anyone know that their present sucked. If you’re a total asshole or just want to make the person breakdown, then, by all means, have at it with a nice fat “What’s this shit?” or a “You gotta be kiddin’ me” or a “Really? That’s the gift?”. But, as long as you want to keep the giver’s feelings intact, you have to get your best Meryl Streep on and find at least one reason why it is a good present (even if the person clearly did not even attempt to think about you when selecting it). Try not to repeat the name of the present too often, as it’s a dead giveaway (yes, you’re right, that is taken from an episode of Seinfeld).

“Well, I’ve never tried snowboarding before, but certainly, now, with this snowboard, I just might.”
“Assorted nuts! Thanks! Regardless of my pesky deadly allergy, I’ll give it a whirl! Where’s my Epi-Pen?”
“I can’t wait to light up my room with this here Lava Lamp! They’re so useful!”
“Oh, the new Britney Spears perfume! Normally I wear cologne, given that I am a male, but I’m sure the ladies will be all over me when I smell like this sweet candy!“ 
“I’ve heard about these Snuggies! Oh, looks like you left the receipt in the bag here, oh don’t worry, I’ll hang onto it. Oh wow, look at that, it has the address of the store and everything, hmmm interesting!

I Already Have It.

Similar to the “I Hate It”, you generally have to come up with a reason why it’s perfect. It’s easy since, you already have it, and know exactly why you like it. In some cases, you can probably let the person know. But be careful. People giving gifts are in a fragile anxious state, and you would hate to see a suicide note that mentioned your reaction to a gift. The absolute worst thing to do is admit you already have it, but then try and find some reason why having two of them is okay.

“No, it’s great, now I can have a copy of it in each car.”
“Seriously, I was actually hoping to have a second plunger for my single toilet.”
“Look, it’s always good to have extra Snuggies.”

What the Hell Is It?

Also similar to the “I Hate It”, the problem here is that you won’t be able to find a valid reason why it’s a perfect gift for you, since you don’t what it is. It may in fact be a perfect gift for you, but you’d never know by looking at it. Sometimes the giver knows that it’s a weird unknown gift item and will explain what it is immediately after you open it. After this, you can move into option 1 or 2. If they don’t make with the explaining, then you have to find something to say, and fast.

“Oh wow, I love the color, they make them in blue? Didn’t know that, nice.”
“Niiiiiiiiiiiii-(stalling for time)-iiiiiiiiiiiiice………….. it’s prettttyyyyyyyy-(while saying this, try reading on the back what the fuck this thing is and react accordingly)-yyyyyyyyy………”
“Well, it’s definitely not a Snuggie, so thank you.”

Where the Hell Is It?

The only difference between this and “I Hate It”, is that in this case the person didn't even give you a present when you were expecting one (the true spirit of Ex-Mas). It’s a non-gift, really. Usually this comes in the form of an empty card, or a Holiday Wish accompanied by a hug-kiss. Sentimentality is generally attached to it in a cheap attempt to stop you from feeling cheated. Try not to let the disappointment show.

“What a beautiful card! It’s definitely better than the new iPood I gave you! You win.”
“Oh! Careful! Don’t give me too big a hug, I will feel like the gifts that I actually bought for you with actual money that I earned weren't expensive enough!”
“At first I thought there was something else hidden inside the Snuggie, but no, the Snuggie is more than enough. It’s definitely an actual present.”

When I was growing up I thought that gift cards were lazy and stale, but now I realize that it might be the only sure win. It’s not cold and thoughtless the way cash is, and at the same time, leaves it open for the recipient to find something that they might actually want. There is still some thought involved, since you had to have thought of a store that they would actually like. As a last resort, always go with the cinema gift card, which pretty much says “I don’t know anything about you, but cash just seems too impersonal, certainly there will be a film of some kind you might enjoy someday”.

That’s it. I’ve got a Snuggie to return.

Foot Note: Sorry that this comes a few days late, but I was busy employing the techniques contained in this very article. Also, feel free to replace Snuggie with Pajama Jeans, ShamWOW, or whatever is currently found at the end of the aisle at most Rite-Aids and CVS stores. !!!HD VISION GLASSES!!!


  1. Luckily I got mostly I love its this year!

  2. If only we could all be so lucky...

  3. Hmmm snuggies... sounds interesting, I wonder if my Brother would want one next year ...

  4. For the record, I do have the HD Vision Glasses and they rule.

    I don't know if they work, but they look real snazzy.

  5. "and scene / divorce" = hilarious.
    I love this post and no, I'm not going to share this comment with my wife.

  6. Hahaha! Two Christmas gift scenarios at our house this year:

    My four-year old niece telling her uncle (my other brother) that it wasn't the My Little Pony she wanted, "but that's okay!" I really like the purple one, "but that's okay! I like this one!".

    And my brother, her dad, looking at the new blue-ray player I bought him like it was some kind of slimy multi-legged something, until I explained to him exactly WHY it was better than the 3 year old dvd player he already has.

    ...and scene.

  7. Look up present face on youtube. I think you'll get a kick out of it.

  8. Holy shit, I finally checked out Present Face. Brilliant!

  9. I got two snuggies for Christmas. A pac-man snuggie and a chicago bears snuggie. It makes me feel like I'm some sort of snuggie collector now.

  10. Thank you for pointing out proper gift etiquette. It is something I don't think a lot of people pay attention. I like giving people gifts but I hate when someone buys me a gift, when there was no need so then when their birthday or something roles around I need to go buy them something. I never know what to get and it usually ends with me yelling and pulling my hair.

    But with that said I always says " Aww, thanks so much I love it ! " or " that's so cute thanks" when I get a gift, then the end.

    Btw, just started following your blog. I dig!

  11. @Chris: I got Varsity and teh one that looks like the sky. Ugly as sin, but HEY it has pockets!

    @Penny: Thanks for diggin' it! And, Happy to help! I agree, more people need to learn how to BS a little for the sake of the giver...

  12. Careful dude, gift cards are going down in stock these days. Too many people getting them out of laziness now, so people expect more. You should mention how some people get xmas gifts for others in the form of a donation to a charity (also Seinfeld), seems dubious.