December 10, 2015
Don't Give Bad Christmas Gifts
The gift you choose for your mate sends a message. Make it a message of love!
Before choosing a gift, ask yourself how it is likely to be viewed by the recipient. Will this be welcomed as an expression of good will, or will it look like a thinly-veiled criticism? Will the gift you choose say that you put some loving thought into it, or will it be something so generic it could have come from a stranger? Will it show that you understand your partner's desires, or will it appear that you don't really know anything about them?
This is not the time to try to fix your spouse with not-so-subtle hints about changes you'd like to see. Gym memberships, digital scales, low-calorie recipe books, exercise equipment, or Nutrisystem subscriptions are all no-nos unless your spouse has very specifically requested them by adding them to a wish list. If your partner is overweight and out of shape he or she already knows all about it. Your unwanted advice is hurtful, not helpful. And don't try to get around this in a passive-aggressive way by buying clothes that you know are too small, or arranging a "vacation" that is really a trip to a fat farm.
The same goes for other attempts to get your partner to change. If your mate needs etiquette lessons, grooming tips, better grammar, or an updated haircut, this is not the time. Criticism is not a gift! Don't offer to pay for a nose job (or a boob job or hair implants or whatever it is you wish they'd do) unless your partner has actually said, "I really want this procedure but I can't afford it." If these are the kinds of gifts you have in mind, it's time to examine your own heart. Perhaps the best gift for everyone, including yourself, would be learning to love others as they are.
Vacuum cleaners, pots and pans, blenders, and other housekeeping items are usually a bad idea. Many will interpret this as a message that you see your spouse as nothing more than a household drudge. Once again, the exception is when someone has specifically requested a particular item. Some people will truly appreciate a fancy new kitchen gadget, but you need to be sure.
Don't buy something for yourself and pretend it's a gift for your partner. No one is fooled!
Be very cautious about "joke" gifts. Sometimes friends or couples have a long-standing arrangement whereby they exchange crazy or humorous items. It is great fun! But if the two of you haven't agreed to this ahead of time, it's not a good idea to suddenly decide this on your own. All too often, one person's humor is another person's insult. Someone who took the time to pick out something wonderful just for you is unlikely to feel good about getting a beautifully wrapped whoopee cushion.
Nor is it a good idea to take revenge for the bad birthday gift you got by buying something twice as bad for your mate. Give the gift of forgiveness, and find something nice.
We think we should know enough about our loved ones to know what kinds of things would please them. Nevertheless, some people are hard to buy gifts for, even when we know them well. Think really hard. On previous occasions, which gifts were received with enthusiasm? Which got a cool reception or were never used? Has your partner been dropping hints? If not, or if you find hints hard to understand, don't be afraid to ask for suggestions. If you can get your partner to put together a wish list, you are good to go.
And remember, the gift receipt is your friend. Even a highly appreciated gift may be the wrong size or color. Let your sweetheart know that the item can be returned or exchanged with no hard feelings.