If you’ve ever received a windbreaker branded with the name of the company your spouse works for, a toilet seat, or an emoji pancake pan because “it would be fun for the kids” on Christmas morning, we’d understand your desire to make sure it never happened again. Because we all know that presents that are clearly office swag, that provide bathroom seating for all, or offer new way for a parent who hates cooking to cook, are bad personal gifts. (Right?) The best gifts are things someone really wants, but wouldn’t buy for themselves. (This does not include a multi-coloured three-pack of leggings from Costco.)
So what’s a person who’s been burned by the gifts of Christmas past to do? Employ one of the methods below, that’s what. They range from hint-dropping (the riskiest approach) to in-your-face instructions no one could mistake for subtle.
For the less direct among us, there’s the “leave catalogues open to specific pages casually strewn around the house, next to remote controls, refrigerators, toilets, and other places the gift-giver spends a majority of their downtime” method. The computerised version entails “accidentally” leaving browser windows open on a jointly-used computer that just so happen to feature the Ugg slippers you’ve been eyeing, with a convenient time calculator, counting down the days until the 30% off sale ends. Or, printing out a picture of your one true wish and “forgetting” to take it out of the printer. (You crafty little HP Photosmart devil.)
Drop obvious hints
With just over three weeks until the big day, and those dreaded “supply chain issues” threatening to delay shipments, the time to start dropping aggressive hints is now. Things like: “I was looking at my lower arm today and it just looked so…bare.” “My wrist muscles are looking flabby lately. I wonder if a sterling silver charm bracelet would tone them up?” “You know what would go great with this sweater? This Anthropologie bracelet I’m looking at right now.” Followed by slow, deliberate blinking while maintaining uncomfortable eye contact until your message is not only verbally, but telepathically implanted in their brains.
Play the Santa card
For jolly souls who’d like to infuse their present requests with some seasonal gaiety, try loudly reporting what you hope Santa will bring you this year. “I hope Santa snags a Nolita 19 with linear quilting Coach wristlet this year. Rumour hast it there are only three left in stock!” Same as dropping hints, but more merry and bright.
Make a (really specific) list
Dispense with all the hinting and spell out your desires in a clear-cut, bullet-pointed list. (I mean, really, this person has seen you at the very least in a mouth guard to prevent nighttime teeth grinding, and has possibly witnessed a human being exit your body. Hints are child’s play.)
On your very mature list, we’re not talking about vague line items like “sweater,” “air fryer,” or “earrings” (unless you’re the flexible sort who’d be equally happy with a ribbed mock turtleneck or a grandpa cardigan, in which case, may we borrow some of your easygoing nature?) We’re talking exact products names, stores, sizes, colours, and links to purchase. If you want to preserve some element of surprise, offer multiple choices they can choose from, any of which you’d be happy with. (Really? Any of them? Teach us your ways.)
Go the experience route
If you’re ready to say sayonara to the pressure to produce thoughtful gifts (and doing all the back-end research/psychological warfare to pass along to the gift-giver) consider taking a trip or booking dinner at a special occasion restaurant out of your normal budget. Because you know what’s better than sleeping on a new set of Miracle Sheets? Sleeping in a new town far away from your children for a weekend — or more.
Buy it yourself
Of course, the only surefire way to get what you want is to throw faux-propriety to the wind and buy it your damn self. When out shopping for others, snag a few things you covet. Instead of doing all the extra work of subtly infusing your wishes into your partner’s psyche, whip out your credit card on the spot. When you get home, announce what they got you for Christmas, and deposit it to them for wrapping. Is this romantic and surprising? No. But you have to decide: Do you want to be surprised or do you want to be not disappointed? (If you answered you want to be surprised and happy, we regret to inform you this order may not arrive by Dec. 24.)
You can always have your significant other fill up your stocking with cute, small surprises — just make sure they know your favourite brand of lipstick and golf balls ahead of time.