What’s the Worst Gift You’ve Ever Gotten?

smashed present

   I want to digress a bit today from Hieropice-specific news to talk about thoughtful gift-giving.  Here in the US, we are in the thick of Mother’s Day/graduation/Father’s Day/wedding season, and that means a lot of gift-giving.  A lot of Hieropice’s customers are giving their purchases as gifts, which got me thinking, how do you ensure you give a good gift?christmas presents

  I take gift-giving very seriously.  I’m one of those people who listens carefully all year to friends when they exclaim “ooh!  I want that bag!” or “ughh, I wish I could afford that bracelet, but oh well!” and then makes a note on my phone to get it for their birthday.  I love wrapping giftsMore than unwrapping them, probably.  I buy wrapping paper for Xmas year-round, and like to wrap all my Xmas gifts with a theme in mind.  Last year it was nature.  This year, I’m undecided.  Alice in Wonderland, perhaps?

  But what if you’re not that type?  What if you often find yourself scrambling, at a loss, desperately trying to pick something you HOPE someone will like.  You put a ton of pressure on yourself to get something great, but struggle to figure out what that is.  Or, you’ve got that person in your life, who never seems to want anything specific, who dislikes everything, or would express appreciation for anything you got them, even if they intend to promptly shove it into the back of their closet?

 martini glass candle I have gotten some bad gifts in the past.  For my 25th birthday, a friend got me a citronella gel candle in a martini glass.  Not sure if she thought I typically slept nude in the woods, and thus, had a massive mosquito issue, but I didn’t know what to do with it.bijon frise   An ex-boyfriend thought that since I love dogs, I would love books about how to groom bijon-frises.  I don’t actually own a bijon frise.  Or a dog, for that matter.  And, I’m thinking, I’d just pay a pro to handle all that fuzz rather than attempt it myself, but, I guess, I can still appreciate his efforts.

  So where did they go wrong? 

1) Convenience – If you’re buying someone a gift primarily because purchasing it is easy for you or requires minimal effort, chances are, your gift won’t be well-received.  There are exceptions, say, when the receiver has expressed a specific interest in an item or brand, but generally, if your thinking is “ooh!  look at that thing right next to the register at CVS!  I’ll buy it for Susie!” Susie might not be too happy with your choices.  Sometimes there’s a transportation issue involved in buying a gift for someone at a retailer they specifically like, which is when buying online becomes a great option.

2) Buying what you wished they’d want, think they need, (or you want!)

  Just because you think they might need a new backpack, pair of socks, or dress-shirt, doesn’t mean you should buy it for them as a gift.  Gifts of necessity are best for non-holiday gift-giving, meaning, you should grab your hubby a new pair of socks when you first notice he needs them, and forgo putting them in a box under the tree at Xmas.  Again, the exception would be if your hubby specifically said he wanted a new pair of socks for Xmas.  Then go for it.

  terrible gift Along the same lines, sometimes we WISH our loved ones would utilize certain objects.  We might want our son to read more, and think getting him a stack of books for Xmas will do the trick.  Or maybe you want to see your wife wear more lingerie, so you spring for some on her birthday.  But, typically, people elect to spend their time doing the things they enjoy, wearing the things they like, etc.  So if they haven’t chosen to spend their time reading or prancing around in lingerie thus far, it suggests they just don’t want to (with exceptions, of course).  If they’ve expressed interest in other things, get them those things, and put your own wants/needs aside.  Trying to impose your own beliefs/priorities on someone else when giving them a gift rarely makes the recipient happy.

    And don’t get your loved ones gifts that you want for yourself.  It’s tacky and rude, and usually transparent.  I had throat surgery once, and asked a visiting friend if she could bring me some sorbet, the only thing I could eat at the time.  She showed up with chunks of watermelon instead, and when I explained I couldn’t eat it because of my surgery, sat there and ate it in front of me.  Don’t be that girl.  No one likes her.gee thanks

   3) But..but.. I don’t get why he/she wants that, it’s stupid!

     Yeah, you might think that wall-mounted indoor thermometer/humidity-reader is weird and silly, but your dad wants it.  That’s the whole idea behind gift-giving, making someone ELSE happy.  Sometimes that means buying something for a loved one that you just don’t see the value in.  It’s ok.  Just comfort yourself with the knowledge that your loved one will adore it.  You’ll make them happy.  They’ll smile and thank you genuinely, and know you care about them.  Well done!

re-gift4) Re-gifting/cleaning out the closet

    This one’s intuitive.  Unless you dislike the person who’s receiving your gift or are participating in a Yankee Swap, don’t re-gift.  Again, unless you happened to get the exact item your friend wanted as a gift, and know you won’t use it.  I’m pretty sure the martini-glass-citronella-candle was a re-gift, and it offended me.  It sent the message that that friend couldn’t be bothered to actually choose something she genuinely believed I’d want, or make the effort to go purchase it (or make it!)  If you’re willing to give someone a gift, acknowledge and honor to mojo/juju/karma you’re sending along with it.  The “I just grabbed some crap from my closet and stuck it in a bag” energy comes through with a re-gift/closet find.  If you’re ambivalent about your feelings about someone, somewhat indifferent, or pressed for time, how about a gift of chocolate, tea, or coffee?  You can’t go wrong.  Or at least, not as wrong as a martini-candle.

     So now I want to know, what’s the worst gift you’ve ever gotten?!




5 thoughts on “What’s the Worst Gift You’ve Ever Gotten?

  1. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky that I’ve never gotten a gift that offended me… In high school I got a lot of themed gifts from friends who decided, “Oh, you like The Beatles, you must want them all over your wall!” or “Oh, you like to drink Coca-Cola? That means you must be a collector of different shaped bottles and other memorabilia.” Yeah right..

    Probably the worst gift I ever got was from someone who was in precisely the predicament you describe above: it was my birthday, and he had no idea what to get me. So he wrote me a card including a promissory note for a massage from the parlor of my choice. A massage would have been a great gift! The problem? I don’t know any massage parlors, and I’m lazy, and the nature of the gift forced me to either research a place myself or forgo the present…. He still owes me a massage…

    • Haha!! Yeah, that’s another gift-giving faux pas! The assumption that affection for one thing means you collect anything remotely related to it..
      Your friend should really just’ve given the massage himself! Or taken the extra step of finding a suitable spa.

  2. I hear you on these topics, I love giving gifts and planning ahead of time, and personally like to ask the recipient what they want, because otherwise I drive myself nuts trying to find something they like! I often get the very well intentioned but confusing, “I like everything”, but it is really difficult to shop for a person so I appreciate a directive approach! I don’t recall receiving anything bad, but I recall giving bad gifts myself (sigh). One year I got a friend an Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, which had raunchy humor, and in retrospect should have known that this was not this friend’s taste. Well, you learn and try for better next year! 🙂

    • Bwahahaha! Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader?! Where did you find that?! It is frustrating when a person says they either want nothing or like everything… If you don’t get them a gift, you’d certainly hear about it later! I totally heart asking someone directly what they want. You ensure the person’s happy with the gift, you can maintain the element of surprise by not revealing if or what of the items they mentioned you actually purchased, and you can rest easy knowing you got them something they’ll like!

      • I know, I do not know what I was thinking! I found it at Barnes and Noble when it still was open in Coolidge Corner. Agreed! I heart asking people what they want, and then you know you have a happy recipient! 🙂

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