• It's tricking getting someone something they won't trash the moment they unwrap it
Let me just say from the outset that I am not the world's greatest gift giver. For that matter, I also struggle with receiving presents.
I'm one of those people who wish people would consult before they bought me anything, and if they are in the position to receive, then they should just come out and say what they want.
From as far back as I can remember, I have almost always felt the pressure to act happy or grateful when people have bought me a gift, unless it was a book. I've always loved books.
As a boy, I was always fearful of people buying me clothes as a gift. Mainly because often, it was things or colours I wouldn't get for myself. I have very particular tastes and always have. The other reason was because I would have to act happy and excited so as not to offend the person who had gone out of their way to get me something they thought I'd like. Worse yet, I'd have to wear the darn thing.
When I was a boy, I didn't know the concept of taking things back to the shop and exchanging it for something you actually want. Regifting never occurred to me. Also, the only people I could have regifted things to would have been my cousins or close friends, whose parents had bought me the present in the first place.
I think this is the reason I have no issues with people who send out wedding gift lists. They know what they want and you can tailor your budget accordingly because nobody needs five microwaves.
I got to thinking about this recently when we did the office Secret Santa. I may have worked with the team for half a year already, but I couldn't say I know everyone that well. Gifts are very personal, and with adults, it can be a minefield.
As I was busy stressing about what to get my Secret Santa nominee, my other half came up with the perfect suggestion: a mall gift card. This would mean that the person would have to go to a particular mall and choose whatever took their fancy and thus absolved me from getting them something they wanted to trash the moment they unwrapped it.
Also, there'd be no chance of duplication. Unlike a birthday I went to aged 10 or so, when five different people, including myself and the parents of the child, bought exactly the same LP (vinyl record, for you millennials). It was the UN Year of the Child, and a gaggle of popstars had recorded a song to raise money for Unicef. The poor boy ended up with five Music for Unicef records.
I propose that either everyone gives mall gift cards or supermarket vouchers at Christmas and on birthdays or whatever the celebration. l always admired the foresight of a former employer of mine (the one behind this newspaper you are reading). He used to give us Nakumatt shopping vouchers, thus allowing people to get whatever they wanted or needed.
Mine was always spent on booze for my annual Christmas party.