Good day, gentlemen.
Today I will endeavor to impart unto the reader some small iota of my vast knowledge of the ancient and arcane art of giving gifts. Though exchanging actual gifts with actual human beings may seem antiquated in today’s digital economy, there is still the occasional occasion where a gift is considered appropriate. As the end of the year approaches, we find ourselves in the part of the year where much gift-giving is done and, more importantly, expected.
Shopping, as all gentlemen know, is the worst. Unless I’m buying a cool new hat or some kind of gadget, a store is the last place I want to be. So, here are some ideas for what you can do to make the shopping experience tolerable.
Gift advice begins after the jump.
1. Make a list. Check it at least once.
Hey, if works for the fat bearded gentleman in the red suit, why not for you? Even if all you do is write down the names of each person you’re planning to give a gift, it will ensure you won’t forget about anybody. If you want to get even crazier and come up with a few viable ideas for each name on the list, you’re that far ahead of the guy who is just going to wander up and down aisles in his grey sweatpants until inspiration strikes him. Side note: Don’t wear sweatpants. If this gets even one person to not wear sweatpants in public, I’ll call this whole blog a win.
2. Bring a friend, preferably a female friend.
I searched for pictures of people shopping, but the first 5 pages of Google Image results were all pictures of multi-ethnic groups of mid-30s women shopping together, looking like they’re having the greatest time in the history of the god-damned world. The only man in these hundreds of pictures was a guy looking completely defeated and depressed, carrying a million brightly-colored shopping bags while a woman ecstatically shopped with her multi-ethnic group of friends. The image results reflect reality. Men know something that women have yet to learn: Shopping is boring. Soul-crushingly boring. Good thing is, around this time of year, most of your friends are probably also going to be culturally press-ganged into finding some collection of material trinkets to express their love for their family. So, team up! Go together, make each other laugh, and try really hard not to get distracted by the video game demo at Best Buy. Even better if you have a female friend, because shopping somehow makes women stronger. Your female friend will be so excited to help you get gifts for the people on your list, the whole trip will be that much easier.
3. When in doubt, consumable gifts are great.
Alcohol, gourmet foods, chocolates, alcohol, Blank of the Month Club memberships, alcohol, cheeses, or even something like alcohol would make excellent gifts that are always appreciated and enjoyed. Consumable gifts are simple, classy as fuck, and often delicious. Added bonus: If they like the gift, you can get it for them again next year. Side note: Not sure if I mentioned that everybody likes to receive alcohol. [Editor’s note: Alcohol might be a good gift for some people.]
4. Seek out unique gifts, sold in unique places.
Just because Target sells a lot of shit, that doesn’t mean you have to go there. Pop-up shops, open air markets, people selling weird art and jewelry by the side of the road. These are all viable options for gift shopping. Anything you can do to avoid going into a standard retail store in the month of December is probably a good choice. Retail stores in December contain the most miserable and self-loathing group of people in the entire world: The seasonal retail employee. Avoid these people at all costs. Getting your gift from a nontraditional source gives you an added bonus: The gift comes with an “interesting” story. “I found this [whatever it is] at this really great little [wherever it was]. The person who sold it to me was [whoever they are]. They [make / find / excrete] these [things] and sell them!” NOW IT’S TWO GIFTS! The gift, and the stupid story that comes with it. Jackpot.
5. Avoid anything considered “hot” or “popular.”
This is safe advice a lot of the time anyway, but seeking out things that are “this year’s must-have gift!” will inevitably result in disappointment anyway. Either you or the gift-recipient is going to feel let down. If you get someone the coolest thing in the god-damned world this year, you’re going to feel incredibly foolish when the entire world comes to an end before you can even give them the gift, as prophesied by the ancient Mayans (or, more probably, when the price drops like a rock in early 2013). If it doesn’t live up to the promised excitement, you’re both going to feel foolish. Don’t get swept up in the hype. Find things that have value beyond the cultural mouth-frothing that is so omnipresent this time of year.
In closing, gentlemen, there is nothing anyone can do to make gift shopping not be a chore. But by keeping these five steps in mind, you can make it a bearable chore. And remember, if you give gifts to your loved ones, they will probably not murder you.
In the holiday spirit, here’s a video of Krusty the Klown wishing you a joyful season:
Until next time, Gents.