This is not a guide to gift giving

Raquel Vaughn-

“All I want for Christmas is you”…to actually buy good gifts this year. With the holidays coming up, it’s the season of giving. Whether you’re looking for that “perfect something” for that “perfect someone”, or your mission is to win the gift exchange with your roommate this year, everyone is searching to get somebody a little present during this time. I’m sure if you were to browse the internet, you would find some helpful gift guides with cute and cheap gifts worth considering. Unfortunately for you, I am not helpful. So, this is totally not a Christmas gift guide.

When I was 11-years-old, my grandparents on my dad’s side visited my family for Christmas morning. They came with presents for me and my brothers, which we were grateful for and excited to open! My brothers got some pretty cool stuff like remote-controlled race cars, video games, and Legos. When it was my turn to open my gift from Grandma and Grandpa (famously known as OGG, Original Gangster Grandma/Gramps), I was left with an alarm clock. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was nice to get something and that they thought of me. But an alarm clock? Really? I’ve always been super open about my interests, even as a kid, and I got an alarm clock that broke within the first month of having it. *Insert WOMP WOMP here.*

So here’s what’s to learn from that: don’t, and I mean do not, get anyone an alarm clock for the holidays. Even if they explicitly ask for a new alarm clock, it’s better to be safe and get a little extra something with it. And if you’re thinking about getting your 11-year-old grandchild an alarm clock, think again and journey to the makeup aisle because lord knows she’ll need the practice before she hits those teen years.

If you have already bought the alarm clock, that’s fine. But at least take my advice on this one: coordinate with the others. When it comes to gift-giving, you not only have to think of something that the person themselves wouldn’t buy but what their other loved ones wouldn’t either. For instance, when I was 16-years-old, I raved on and on to both of my parents about how much I wanted to get into vinyl records. My parents are divorced so we had two Christmases at this time. My parents did a great job paying attention to how much I loved listening to vinyl records because at both Christmases I got a record player. They were the same exact one – the same color, too! I was so happy that they knew me so well but I was stuck with two record players and only one record.

Last year, I was so nervous that my roommate’s family would buy her this book series I wanted to gift her. I was especially nervous because she put it on her Christmas list, one that her whole family and extended family could see, and because her sister is also a fan of the book series. I bought the books and, like a madman, told her sister and mom to not even think about it. But I said it a lot nicer than that. The gist is that a good gift guide is probably great, but they all offer the same ideas: Apple Watches, Nintendo Switch games, the Dyson Airwrap, Ray-bans, and Stanley Cups. Don’t embarrass yourself like my parents did.

Gag gifts are overrated. A gag gift exchange is only fun if everyone knows that that’s the plan. Every year during Thanksgiving, my parents, aunt, and uncle orchestrate this huge Secret Santa event for my siblings and cousins. Typically, we all put a lot of effort into each gift (which is really hard because the budget is always, like, fifteen dollars). However, a couple of years ago, that was not the case for one person. Instead of getting something that they were really interested in, my brother got an action figure of one of the most hated characters from an anime show that he didn’t even like. It’s important to know that this was after his “anime phase,” he’s what you would consider more of a skater now. He did the typical “smile and say thank you” once the gift was open but every Thanksgiving Secret Santa he’s met with unshakeable nerves. The sentiment was there, but the effort was not. So, another piece of advice, make sure that everyone else is getting a silly gift before you yourself give one.

The thing about getting gifts for your loved ones is that you can never go wrong with the basics: their favorite candy, their favorite snack, something of their favorite color, a Christmas tree ornament, or something personal, handmade, and thoughtful. Last Christmas, my brother oil-painted abstract pictures of popular DC comic superheroes and villains. I thought they were super cool and would have bought them if I had the money. But that Christmas, my dad bought them from my brother and framed them for me. That same year, a friend gifted me one of her crystals which she thought matched my personality the most. If it’s not something yummy, something thoughtful will at least always be cherished.

Moral of the story is never get your loved one an alarm clock—it represents waking up early in the morning. Don’t get a gag gift unless you are absolutely certain that that person would appreciate it. And communicate with everyone else. Following these simple rules will make you the greatest gift giver. Maybe. Probably. On second thought, maybe an alarm clock wouldn’t be so bad if it at least looked cute. *Insert emoji of girl shrugging here.*

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