I love Christmas time, but I really hate all the obligatory gift giving. I mean, I there are some people in my life like co-workers, or family friends, or neighbors that I just don’t like that much. Every December, I find myself obligated to get them a gift that doesn’t make me a look like a cheap asshole. I don’t hate these people (ok, maybe some of them), I just would rather buy presents for the people in my life that mean a lot to me. Every $25 Starbucks Gift mug and coffee set I buy for them, is $25 worth of presents my girlfriend doesn’t get. It’s not that I don’t want to get them anything, it’s that I don’t want to invest, and I am not very crafty or a DIY-er. What do I get these people, SpaceMan?!
I’m not a Grinch, I’m just poor and lazy.
Dear Poor and Lazy,
I think we are all familiar with this phenomenon. Fortunately, I think I can help with some ideas that are cheap, and yet appear thoughtful. I can also suggest a few gifts that won’t solicit the “Aww, thanks man. You know, we really should hang out more often.”
My first suggestion is booze. Almost everyone on your list enjoys booze. And wine doesn’t even have to be expensive. Go to a wine store, (Online wine is now legal in the state of MD, but limited to certain permitted wineries) not the corner liquor store where you order through 2 inches of glass (Or is that just in Baltimore) and ask them. These people specialize in gift wine, they can help you find something that is cheap, but can pass as expensive to your lay-person friends. If you want to class it up a tad, go for something like this*:
Those 94 cent bags add a world of class to your $8 bottle of wine. Now your gift looks super classy and thoughtful and only cost you $8.94-$10.94. Plus, keep a few handy in a closet in case someone gives you a gift unexpectedly.
Now, some people don’t like booze or maybe it would be inappropriate to as a gift (depending on your work environment, giving alcohol might be a faux pas).
Many online retailers have an “Under $10″ section. Personally, I like ThinkGeek.com because I am a giant nerd (feel free to leave your impassioned definitions of geek versus nerd in the comments section, you dweeb). One of the nice things about this is that they have an under $10 section and an under $20 section, depending on whom you are shopping for. Some of the stuff is real unique and not just for geeks. Like the grow your own coffee bean plant kit. This is $8 (on sale!) and makes an excellent gift for a co-worker about whom then only thing you know is that he or she likes coffee.
You don’t have to limit yourself to Think Geek, obviously, just make sure it’s nothing too generic. No one knows how much you spent on wine, or a unique coffee growing kit. But everyone that gift set of bbq sauces came from Walmart/Kmart/Target and was $10. They probably also still have the same set from last year.
Here’s a handy list of gifts that I would stay away from if you’re trying to impress. (Alternatively, this list doubles as the list of gifts for people with whom you don’t want to encourage friendship)
- Bath gift set. All this says is “I know you have a vagina, so I assume you like frilly shit.”
- BBQ stuff. I know you have a penis, and am making the following assumptions: You have a grill, you like grilling, you don’t already own the stuff necessary to grill.
- Gift certificates. The exception being if the gift certificate is to some place meaningful. A gift certificate to your significant other for the place where you had your first date can be a very romantic gift.
- Candles. Any candle that makes a good looking gift is extremely overpriced. Also, if someone wants a damn candle, they’ll just go buy one.
Anyway, good luck friend. If you don’t take any of my suggestions, I hope they have at least pointed you in helpful directions. Just remember, you can do cheap without doing generic (I know a bottle of wine is generic, but most people appreciate getting booze during the holidays).
I don’t know, I guess that could work. Maybe?