Wearing dice on my head since 2008 Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart. Randomly amazed.

Gift Giving

· by roy · Read in about 4 min · (700 Words)
Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Gift giving is something I’m quite bad at. Okay wait, that’s not accurate. I’m fine with the gift giving. The real problem I have with is gift-buying.

I’m not good at buying gifts for other people. The main problem I guess is that I’m not good at buying things in general, unless those are things that are of particular interest to me. And since my interests are a bit niche, there tends to be not much overlap with what gifts I think other people will appreciate. I tend to not know what sort of gifts are good or even appropriate to give to other people.

For a group of people, the concept of fairness comes into mind as well. Like, if I have a group of friends that I regard at about the same level, it would feel weird to me to only give a gift to one or two of them, it seems not fair to the others. This leads to even more gift-buying paralysis.

The other day I was at a mall and saw there was a sale on some DC Superhero Girls Lego sets, and my niece loves Lego and she’s also my goddaughter and so I figured I would get her one as a gift. And I did, even though in this country Lego sets at 50% are still a bit pricey. But I kind of had a bit of buyer’s remorse, not because it wasn’t a good gift (I think it was), but it set me up for an additional dilemma: my 1-year old nephew is also my godson, and now I felt compelled to buy him a gift that has around the same value, otherwise it doesn’t feel “fair”. But I have no idea what to get for a 1yo! Looking forward to my nephews growing old enough in a few years that I can give them Transformers!)

I will probably end up handing the parents a cash gift, they’ll understand. Cash is a great gift because it’s unproblematic, but it can also seem a bit thoughtless. But anyone who knows how bad I am at buying things will understand. I often give cash as wedding gifts.

Another common gift-giving scenario in the Philippines is the secret santa/kris kringle/gift exchange that is quite common especially among office workers during Christmas season, usually with some approximate expected gift value. This is usually okay for me, as long as people aren’t unnecessarily pressured into joining an exchange if they don’t want to. I especially like it when the exchange participants are expected to provide a wishlist - this alleviates my handicap a bit. While I understand the spirit of gift exchanges as a social function, it does seem a bit inefficient to me. Logically, gift satisfaction can be maximized by each person just buying what they want for themselves.

Also, typically most exchanges will have value requirements in the P300 to P500 range, for which I don’t have much options in what I’d ask for - anything I want for myself will tend to be at least slightly more expensive than that. These days I tend to ask for some grocery type stuff like quezo de bola or spam.

Another anecdote, only slightly related: when we were kids, my brother had this gift exchange in school that he forgot to ask my mom to get a gift for. I helped him put together a weird gift out of scraps (to put it kindly). We had fun putting it together, but the recipient did not appreciate it, and I remember he said he got a scolding from the teacher lol.

Anyway, the end result of all of this combined with my usual frugality is that I rarely buy anyone gifts, even for Christmas or birthdays. I will sometimes buy gifts if I happen to chance something that I know the recipient will like (like the Lego example above), especially if it’s on sale or at a reasonable price. Most other occasions I think family and friends already know I don’t usually give gifts. And in return, I tend to not expect too much in the way of gifts either, although I am of course appreciative of them.

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