Today, because it is as far from Christmas as it is possible to be, let’s do a gift guide! That makes sense, right?
But seriously, you probably failed miserably on Mother’s Day. Don’t screw up again for your Dad. He’s counting on you to deliver some righteous booty to his door. That didn’t come out right. Forget I said that.
The secret to the perfect gift is twofold:
1) It shouldn’t be something they NEED
2) It should be something they can USE.
The first rule is important because giving someone a gift that they NEED is boring. Sure, my mom probably needs a new vaccuum or a big pack of paper towels, but I would never give her one of those things for her birthday. A gift like that says, “I don’t know you very well, or all I know about you is that you clean your house like any other person.” Don’t do it.
The second rule is equally important because while cute, decorative gifts are a nice thought, nobody in the universe needs their life cluttered up with more useless shit. I personally know that my own house is in a permanent state of needing to be cleaned out, but it never happens because people keep giving me antique medicine bottles and wooden elephant figurines. Stop with that bullshit.
So! What kind of gifts fall squarely within the limitations of Rule 1 and Rule 2? Your best bet is to base your gift on the recipient’s hobbies. That way, your gift is automatically both leisure-related and useful. Follow? Here are some examples of the people that very well may populate your life at the moment.
1) Outdoorsy Types
This could include gardeners, hikers, kayakers, birdwatchers, or homeless people. Such variety! So what to get them? Well, anyone who enjoys spending large amounts of time outside is going to need a nourishing meal to tide them over, but they don’t necessarily have anywhere to put it. Try a sweet meal cooler with tons of pouches for different foods. You could fill it with lots of stuff like sunscreen, bug spray, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, band-aids, and other “survival essentials.” Maybe this person isn’t worth fifty or sixty bucks to you. How about some cheap but functional toasting forks for hot dogs and marshmallows? And for the cheapest yet cutest gardener-gift ever, you can’t go wrong with a few seed packets.
The obvious choice is… wait for it… books. Try to take them outside their comfort zone a little bit. If they usually read fantasy novels, get them something nonfiction that ties into Star Trek or Games of Thrones. If they normally peruse giant coffee table books, get them an encyclopedia that will have all the giant color photos with better text. If they ordinarily read mysteries, get them into a little horror fiction.
Of course, almost everyone reads books every now and then, so the accoutrements are what set true bookworms aside: pretty bookmarks, portable reading lamps, a mug or a T-shirt with a quote from their favorite book. Try to incorporate what you know they like with something they’ve never tried.
3) Cooks and Bakers
This one is easy, and it doesn’t have to involve expensive bakeware. Just get them something that will inspire their creativity. (And hopefully you will get a batch of cookies in the bargain.) People will seriously lose their shit for that fancy pink sea salt. Try getting them something a little bit weird, like a seed you’ve never heard of or a crazy pickle. They’ll have a blast figuring out what to put it in that will horrify their family. If they have some sort of dietary restriction, they’ll love you forever if you get them something that complies with that, like a gluten-free scone mix or a certified-kosher wine. And of course, coffee and tea are always good standbys.
5) People You are Currently Boning
This can be a delicate area. If you’ve been boning this person for less than, say, six months, I would advise against getting them anything sexy. The assumption with such gifts is that they will be using it with you, and at less than six months there really is no solid guarantee of that. If you are secure enough in your relationship to offer a sex-related gift, you’re already going for the gusto, so take it all the way. Get them some new lubricant for the two of you to enjoy. If they’re into that sort of thing, get them some fun toys to play with together. Nothing too expensive, I’m not asking you to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy sex swing (now there’s a three-letter phrase you don’t often hear yourself using), but anything that vibrates is a good investment for both of you.
I’d stay away from lingerie if you are a female and he is a male. You both know that it really is a gift for you, and the selfishness is latent but there.
6) Children at Heart
If you don’t know anybody that falls into this category, then I feel sorry for you. Gift them much the way you would gift an actual child. This type of recipient will see the value in things like Super Soakers and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Get them some sort of fantasy toy from their childhood that they were never given back then, like an Easy Bake Oven or a science kit. Add to their board game collection with something they don’t already have, or inspire their creativity with a huge Play-Doh set or an excessively huge box of Crayolas. Then watch as their family structure and personal life is systematically destroyed because they are too busy playing with toys.