Gift Selection Roulette

By Don Doman

I donít see what the problem is. I can walk into almost any store and find something that would make a good present for me -- gloves, flashlights, large-faced clocks, a pound of sweetened-dried cranberries. I can also find items for other people -- hand-puppets, multi-purpose pliers, antique Siamese bracelets. Unfortunately, many other people have a hard time selecting presents.

People buying for me have experienced difficulty, and Iím easy to buy for. Well, I think Iím easy to buy for. I have one simple rule for clothes: It must be 100% cotton. That seems simple enough, doesnít it?

My mother doesnít seem to understand the 100% cotton rule. She continually buys me polyester. She sighs and says, "Youíre so hard to buy for." Then she says, "I got this nice looking shirt for you." I calmly ask, "Is it cotton?" She responds, "I donít think so." I say, "Then I wonít wear it." She replies, "But it would look so nice on you. Just try it on." I look at her. She finishes with, "Youíre so hard to buy for."

Iíve been through this scenario many times. Many people subscribe to the theory of gift receiving that you should simply accept a gift and tell the person how much you like the item. Iíve been down that road before. That road leads to a closet full of double-knit leisure suits.

Some people drop subtle hints about an item they would like for a gift. These people are playing gift selection roulette. The problem is that many times the subtle hints may be too subtle for the gift-giver to pick up. The easy solution to this problem is a gift list.

When people ask me for a list of what I would like, I respond with not only a list but a picture, price and place where it can be purchased. I go through newspaper ads with a marking pen. I circle the items I like. I do the same thing with catalogs. This method either results in the correct items being received or sometimes in cash money. Cash money, however, isnít necessarily good. Itís a little impersonal.

Recently, my mother asked what I wanted for my birthday. I responded with, "Thereís a sale at K-Mart. They have 100% cotton sweaters for $19.95." She gave me $20. That was nice, but I didnít make it to K-Mart before the sale was over. I didnít get the sweater, and ended up spending the money at Wendyís Vietnamese Restaurant. Now, she could have cut out the middle-man and simply bought a gift certificate to Wendyís. I would have been thrilled with that.

I prefer receiving surprises as gifts -- surprises that delight, that is. Finding an appropriate gift isnít difficult. They just take time and thought. Appropriate gifts are appreciated. Money isnít even an issue. I have a young friend who likes the movie Dances with Wolves. While in a used book store I saw a small paperback book containing quotations and photographs from the film. The price was less than $3. She received many more expensive gifts that she liked last Christmas, but she loved that book.

Christmas is coming. Take time in selecting gifts for others. Make them delightful. For others buying gifts for you, however, you have several choices. You can tell people exactly what you want. You can drop hints. Or, you can play gift selection roulette. You have to ask yourself, "Do I feel lucky?"



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