There are many reasons to give a gift to someone. Maybe you want to show that person that they are special, maybe you feel guilty about running over their pet snake or sister. A gift can be used to deflect attention form some other aspect of your life: the sparkle of a diamond ring or sheen of a new pet snake can figuratively blind someone to your more nefarious behavior.
Of course we all know what to give as gifts to people we like, love or wish to deceive but what about gifts for people we either don’t care about or don’t actually like.
“Why would I buy someone I don’t care about or don’t actually like a gift you total spanner?” I hear you mumble through a mouthful of complimentary biscuits.
Well, we all have to that’s why. Stop eating all those biscuits. While I know there’s no sign specifically saying ‘Only Take One Biscuit’; it is sort of implied by social convention.
Quite often we are faced with having to buy a gift for an estranged family member, colleague, client, friend-of-a-friend, or local baron that we don’t actually like. For reasons of social convention, pecuniary advantage or familial loyalty, however, we have to keep them placated and the best way to do this is to buy them something.
Graphs I have seen show that over fifty percent of all capitalism is insincere gift transactions. Without them, the system would fail, or at very least flail.
Insincere gift-buying however, is this weblog contributor’s specialty.
Extremely expensive gifts
The thing about buying presents for people you don’t like is you want them to feel uncomfortable by the gift. An expensive give can make someone uncomfortable by making the recipient feel ‘ashamed’ and ‘indebted’.
If someone bought you one of those pointless desk toys with balls on strings that bash together, sound like a metronome, and always end up getting tangled up; you buy them a 50 inch television. Someone gets you a set of ‘very designy’ coffee-cups that look good for about a week, but the design fades you immerse them in detergent; you get them a Toyota hatchback.
The reason you do this is so they, firstly, feel ashamed that their gift was so paltry and secondly, feel a little bit uncomfortable that someone they hardly know/don’t really like bought them such a lavish gift. Next will come the creeping suspicion that you may want something from them and that they are, by accepting your gift, very indebted to you.
Help egg this feeling on by mentioning the very expensive gift each and every time you see them. If you have a thespian streak, try incorporating an intense look into the mix every time you remind them of the gift. This will freak them out like its nobodies business.
Of course, buying an extremely expensive gift for each and everyone you don’t like or care about, but , for reasons of social cowardice still have in your acquaintance circle, could get very expensive. There’s also the possibility that the person doesn’t feel embarrassment or shame. It might be why you don’t like them. Just as an aside, a good way of telling if someone doesn’t feel embarrassment, shame or really anything, is if they are wearing ‘toe shoes’.
This is where pointless tat comes in. This is a gift that not only does the recipient not want but nobody has ever wanted. Here’s some main ones:
Scented candles – extra points if the ‘scent’ is either overpoweringly pungent, or actually some sort of ‘organic and all-natural’ pesticide.
Cushions – Nobody who doesn’t already own cushions wants cushions.
Rustic food preparation devices that have long since been replaced with something better – We’re talking ‘lemon squeezers’, an ‘on-stove whistling kettle that can’t turn itself off, just keeps boiling and boiling and eventually burns your house down’ or ‘a mortar and pestle’ (especially if the recipient doesn’t take, sell, or manufacture drugs.)
Any nick-knack described primarily as being ’funky’ or ‘kitsch’.
This is a hackneyed one, so we won’t dwell on the fact that you are nominating someone’s exact worth in a currency that can only be spent in a handful of places.
More trouble than its worth
This is the gift that seems thoughtful on the surface but is, in actual fact, a lot of commitment. This includes kites, any model anything, anything you have to plant, tend to, or slaughter yourself and any very potent narcotic or psychedelic drug.
If the intended recipient is over twenty-five years old you can throw in any musical instrument or sporting goods – extra points here because these things may just remind them of their fast-fading youthful dreams.
Most of the gift ideas in this weblog bulletin have focused on very general gift ideas: gifts that will generally make someone uncomfortable, ashamed, make them put in a lot of effort, or are generally thoughtless or pointless. The thing that will really get under the skin of someone you are giving a gift to though, is something that is calibrated to their personality.
The best gifts are calibrated to the intended recipient’s character failings
If someone is painfully shy, get them a toy loud-hailer. On the surface of it, a funny, practical gift. The thing is you can then make them use said loud-hailer in the office. That will make them very uncomfortable.
If someone is unadventurous with food because of dietary issues; get them a gift certificate for a lovely ethnic curry.
If someone thinks going to the theatre is for drop-outs and communists; get them tickets to the longest, most avante garde, and most French play you can find.
If someone doesn’t like poor people or Africans; get them one of those things where rather than giving them a gift you use the gift money instead to buy a starving family in Africa a goat or a duck or something.For a while, amongst caring people, there was a fetish for making up ‘gift certificates’ for things like ‘hugs’ or ‘compliments’ or entitling the bearer to have ‘one nice thing done for them.’ The gift certificate idea can be used for less cloying purposes though too, particularly if the gift certificate is for something the person receiving it needs, but cannot possibly redeem.