I Can't Even...
By Sara "Zarine" Jessop
...The Art of Gift Giving
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Snow is falling out my window, and Yule is fast approaching. Soon, we will all gather together at Cecil's Yuletide Tavern (which is a way better title than whatever he's calling it this year. Why do we let Kings name things?) where we shall socialize in all our fancy finery, exchange fabulous gifts, sing carols, give money to charity in hopes of winning sub par prizes, and learn who among us can't handle their liquor. Since I have already covered public drunkenness and fancy dress, this week I would like to focus on something a little bit different; gift giving.
Dear reader, selection of the perfect gift and the presentation thereof is quite more important than you might imagine. A gift conveys to the recipient how you feel about them and how much thought and effort you are willing to put into their happiness or misery.
|Oh it hath, it hath.|
Gift exchanges such as is coming up at the Crazy Tavern can be a bit difficult since sometimes you don't know the person to whom you are gifting. But not being well acquainted with some rando doesn't mean that you can't put some thought into their gift. A completely thoughtless gift is the worst. It says that you feel nothing at all for the person, as if they have no effect on your life in any way and nothing about their existence touches you at all. And we all want to touch someone. Some of us make a living out of it in fact. Fortunately, Father Yule's little helpers make this much simpler by having the participants in the exchange fill out a simple questionnaire.
Still confused? I'm not surprised. The fact that you all continue to read an article week after week that is nothing but an outlet for the author to tell you all what worthless plebs you are tells me a lot about your cognitive reasoning skills. Since I myself despise getting a lackluster gift, allow me to give you some advice to avoid being a yuletide let-down, and in the process perhaps everyone will have a more Merry Yule because their gifts won't be quite so terrible.
|Was there any doubt?|
The first thing you will want to do is actually look over the questionnaire that your exchange partner has filled out. And I don't mean barely read it so that only one things stuck in your head and it ended up being the thing they said that they are allergic to. No one wants the gift of anaphylaxis. No one. Of course if you truly despise the person, poisoning them would show them how you feel I suppose, and at least it wouldn't be thoughtless.
A gift should reflect the tenor of the event at which it is being exchanged. Our yule celebration tends to fall somewhere in the middle between “low born filth” and “wicked classy” on the fanciness scale. This means that your gift should be moderately priced and at least a few minutes of thought put into it. It should be something mildly serious, but don't rule out something slightly comical as well. Alcoholic beverages go well with this event, though make sure that it is something the recipient will actually enjoy.
If you know the giftee quite well, the gift can be as personal as you like. Just be careful with being too personal and creating an awkward situation where you need to explain how you “just want to be friends”. If you don't know the person well, consult their questionnaire, and ask around. Presumably they have at least a small group of friends who might give you some insight into what they might like. And if no one wants to admit to being friends with them, perhaps you should give them some deodorant, an invitation to a night on the town where they might meet people, or a personality.
“Zarine, I can't afford a nice gift, what do I do?” Don't worry, dear reader, there are all sorts of gifts that you can give on a small budget. And they don't all have to be terrible. Homemade gifts can be fine, as long as it is something the beneficiary will actually enjoy and it doesn't look like a five year old made it. An appropriate amount of time should go into it's construction. Re-gifting is also an option, again as long as it is something enjoyable to the recipient and you haven't already used it. Contrary to to what some may think, it does not simply mean “used gift.” If you have something in new condition that they would like, go ahead and re-gift it, just make sure you remember who gave it to you and don't give it back to them. There is nothing tackier than giving someone their own gift.
|Ya know, on a budget|
A gift need not be a physical object. Experiences make great gifts, especially for people who are difficult to buy for and/or already have everything. They can also be a great budget gift depending on the experience. Bring them somewhere fun. Invite them to dinner. Offer to transport them somewhere they may wish to go if they normally lack transportation. Offer them a custom commission if you are an artist type. Maybe compose a song if you are of the musical persuasion. Just make sure to also give them something that they can open that compliments the experience.
Presentation of the gift is also important. A beautiful container will up the perceived value of the gift. So even if it's cheap garbage, you might be able to trick them into thinking it's slightly more moderately priced garbage. Do not hand it to them in the bag it came in. it's tacky. Some merchants offer free gift wrapping with purchase. Even if they charge a bit for it, if you suck at wrapping take them up on it. Always give a card. Cards make the gift more personal. You could even write a sweet little note inside that says something like “I saw this and thought of you,” or “I can't stand your nasty face, I hope you die.” Whatever strikes your fancy!
Gifts to avoid? Home made coupon books. This is just a cop out. You know that no one is ever going to take you up on your “free 5 minute foot massage”, so just buy a real gift. Money or gift cards. Unless it's for a million gold, or the person your buying for is struggling financially and they really do need it, it's just a thoughtless gift that says “I'm lazy, buy your own damn gift.” Gifts that are far beyond the recipients price range. When exchanging gifts, it should be a relatively equal exchange of value. If you give something worth a hundred gold, and they could only afford five gold, they are just going to feel bad. Gifts are supposed to make people feel good.
I myself did not participate in the gift swap this year, as I was once again fashionably late when deciding if I could attend. That doesn't mean that you can't give me gifts of course, just that you won't have a fancy guide to follow and I won't be reciprocating. But I promise to act like I enjoy it, for you see, as the recipient of a gift you also have a responsibility. However terrible the gift is, you still must thank the giver in the most sincere way that you can muster. It's always best to assume that they put a lot of work into choosing it, even if it seems that they didn't. Don't make them feel bad. I can't believe I just said that, in fact I think I vomited a bit in my mouth as I wrote it, much like you will likely do when you open your gift in a few weeks. But I'll give you the same advice I give to my girls; swallow, smile, and pretend you enjoy it.
See you next Tuesday.