Holiday Gifting FAILS

If you’ve come here in the hopes of finding some helpful holiday gifting suggestions, you’ve come to the wrong post. 

When it comes to Christmas gifts, I feel like I have no new ideas. Every. Single. Year.

Once Halloween is over and the department stores start stringing up lights and garland, I feel that childlike anticipation of my favorite holiday for about two seconds. Then the fear, trepidation, and self-doubt sets in, and I remember that I am in charge of buying gifts for every single person in my family and my husband’s family, and they are all going to want something different from what I gave them last year.

Cue the brown paper bag and breathe in…and out.

Some gifts are easy. I don’t feel trepidation about everyone on my list. My favorite gifts are the I-buy-these-every-year-tradition options. For example, I get my son a Hess truck every year—EASY. We get my sister-in-law a Chic-fil-A Cow Calendar every year (not her only gift), but EASY. I latch onto those yearly gifts like a baby latches onto his mama. If only I could create predictable yearly gift traditions for everyone, my life would be so much easier. 

My gifts every year tend to follow a pattern. Out of lack of creativity, once I come up with one good gift idea, I try to apply the same idea to everyone in my family. There was the year that I was unemployed (before children) and tried to make homemade gifts for everyone. Needless to say, what looks good on Pinterest doesn’t necessarily look as good after I’ve put my finishing touches on it. My dad was really nice about it when I delivered him a dozen squished, deformed peppermint cookies in a holiday tin, but they were definitely unappetizing and un-Pinteresty. 

There was the year that I worked part-time at Victoria’s Secret and I bought all of the ladies in my family scented lotion and perfume with my employee discount. I felt like that year was a win (until I recently used my mom’s bathroom and noticed that she still has a very full bottle of Dream Angel, several years later). I realized that buying scents for other people is probably a bad idea unless you’re completely certain that they already wear that scent. 

There was also the year that I purchased pajamas for everyone on my list. My nephews loved it, but my 200-plus-pound brother-in-law was less than thrilled with his zip-up fleece footie suit. My sister promised that she would have him try it on and take pictures, but somehow, those never materialized…

There was the year that I decided to shop Etsy for everyone (a nice idea, but it got a little pricey). My husband’s brother-in-law is still scratching his head over why I decided to get him coasters for Christmas. Each thirsty-stone was individually printed with different album covers for Rush, his favorite heavy metal band. Why would a heavy-metal-band-listener want coasters for Christmas? I’m not sure anymore, but spend five-plus hours diving deep into the inner realms of Etsy, and it will start to make sense to you, too.

Last year I discovered Groupon (I know; I’m a little late to the party), and I decided that everyone was getting a Groupon deal. Some family members got some great deals, but others were less fortunate. For my sister, who is a bit of a wine connoisseur, I decided to get her a giant gift basket full of 12 wines of her choice. I was sure that this idea was a winner, and it was only later that I started thinking about the fact that the very…ahem…affordable wines that I had sent to her doorstep were probably pretty feeble compared to the giant selection of quality wine she already has at her house. She never said anything about the wine later, and I’m pretty sure that she never actually cashed in the voucher at all. Sometimes more (wine) isn’t always better.

So what holiday gifting foibles will I commit this year? It’s hard to say, because obviously, I haven’t even started my holiday shopping yet. One of these days, my dream is to shop for people all throughout the year. When I see something that I know my family member will like, I’ll buy it for them right then (even if it is the middle of April) and put it away somewhere for Christmas. Then by the time the post-Halloween pre-Christmas panic sets in, I won’t need to breathe into a brown paper bag because I’ll already have a closet full of appropriate gifts for all of my relatives (rather than a bunch of hastily-chosen last-minute frenzy purchases), and I’ll just feel a sweet sense of relief and peace about the upcoming holiday season. One of these days…

What are the worst holiday gifts that you’ve ever given (or received)? 

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