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31 December 2014

OK, so we are a bit past the gift-giving period, for those who do that... but for those who do: spill! Did you get any wacky gifts this year? Did you find the perfect gift for someone and they loved it? Did you get any awesome gifts that you loved? I want to hear!
Sleeve tattoos; the ones that slip on. Looking forward to summer.
posted by buzzman 31 December | 23:06
In NL we traditionally don't do gifts for kerstmis because we have Sinterklaas just before that. I did want to give my 6 yr old inline roller skates though because as a semi-american she's exempt from that rule. But unfortunately she was in the UK during those days.

I was told that she received something from the hannukah fairy as well as from santa claus. I guess there's a bit of religuous strife around kerstmis.
I can't quite relate to that since to me it has always been a secular celebration. The words NoŽl, Weihnachten and kerstmis contain no effective reference to the christian background. Which helps for the secular interpretation obviously. Also you do need to live quite up north to appreciate the pre-christian winter solstice essence of secular kerstmis. The NL and the UK and Northern Germany are approximately at the same latitude as Newfoundland. So most people in the US don't get to experience that aspect quite so strongly; SF, NYC and Washington DC are all at the latitude of Lisbon, Madrid and Naples f.i.

Come to think of it; now I'm wondering whether the muslim community in North-Western Europe has come up with an islam alternative. I guess they just point to the suikerfeest.
posted by jouke 01 January | 05:50
I fell in love with this so it was my gift to myself:
posted by bluesapphires 01 January | 06:57
I feel churlish and bitchy, but I spent a lot of time choosing gifts for two of my close friends (and the husband and daughter of one of them) and they gave me "this'll do" gifts - one friend gave me two nasty mugs from the 99p Store (I spend enough time in the 99p Store, so I know exactly where she got them.) She gave me a cheap-ass mug last year too. The other friend gave me a scented candle that was one of a set of three - she'd just taken one out of a set she already had and gave it to me. I know this because when I was at her house on Christmas Day she had one from the set burning and the other still in the box the set had come in. It seemed to me it had been hastily wrapped just before I arrived at their place. I don't even like scented candles and this woman has been to my home enough times to see that I never have scented candles burning.

It's not about the monetary value of the gifts - it's that there didn't seem to have been any thought put into them about whether or not they would be things I'd like, want or need. There was nothing of me in either the mugs or the candle. And these are friends I've known for years, two very close friends. So I felt a bit pissed off that I'd taken so much care over their gifts but it seemed they'd put little thought into what they gave me. (On the plus side, I now have two mugs and a scented candle to re-gift or donate.)

But I had some lovely, thoughtful gifts too - some fabulous books about Art Deco, a really nice top that I will definitely wear and a big bottle of my favourite Aveeno lotion from a friend who doesn't have much money, but must have seen the Aveeno in my bathroom. That bottle of Aveeno meant more to me than the candle and the mugs, because she'd put some thought and care into choosing it.

So yeah, I'm old enough that I should be above all this and I know it's all about the giving, yada, yada, yada ..., but next year I will not spend so much time hunting out nice gifts for those people.
posted by Senyar 01 January | 07:13
Bluesapphires - those look amazing. My dad got me an etsy gift card and I had been wondering what to use it on - those are on the consideration list now!

Senyar - I hate it when that happens. I think that's part of the reason why we've just stopped giving gifts for the most part these days. I give to my family and husband, and just a couple of friends.

Best thing I received - an absolutely amazing purple labradorite pendant from etsy that I fell in love with but didn't think I would get.
posted by needlegrrl 01 January | 09:33
I got a panther tv lamp. Mine looks something like the one in the picture, only it is black and has rhinestone eyes.
posted by JanetLand 01 January | 11:21
I got some junky Christmas stuff from the Hallmark store. My sister in law is always buying me this kind of thing. The Hallmark store is right next to the grocery store where she works, so I get that it's an easy stop for her. I wish she believed me when I say I don't want anything. I really don't. If she feels she has to get something, then a food gift works; it doesn't junk up the house, need to be dusted, and eventually goes away. Actually this year she got me a food gift also - a huge bag of peanut brittle. Yuck. But so what? I can take it to the office, leave it in the kitchen and it'll be gone in an hour.

Also I bought myself some socks and gave them to my husband to give to me. I'm sort of just over "stuff" and don't really want it. I am hoping this is the year I get my house cleaned out of a ton of junk. And we're not packrats by any means. I am just done with wanting stuff. Boy do I sound grouchy and no fun.
posted by Kangaroo 01 January | 12:20
Oh, I forgot (because it's all gone now), I had some torrone (Italian nougat) with nuts and dried raspberries, a gift from a bunny friend in the States. It was so delicious.
posted by Senyar 01 January | 12:42
I got some nice gifts, all rather practical and kitchen-related. I almost always ask for books and kitchen implements, and that's what I get. I am easy to buy for.

I consider myself a pretty badass present-buyer. I won't brag about much, but I am a gift giving jedi. Last May, I found the VERY VERY BESTEST earrings for my sister in law (a Pittsburgh native and a full-on smartass, I found her beautiful filigreed earrings that spell out "jagoff" on each ear. SPLENDID). They are perfect, so truly perfect, I was heartbroken I couldn't be there when she opened the package. She didn't make it to our family's Christmas celebration this year.

I really enjoy choosing and giving gifts, and I don't really mind if I get any, but I will always really appreciate a handmade gift like baked goods, or knit scarves, that sort of thing.

I am sorry to hear about your underwhelming gifts, Senyar. That is a major drag. I totally get it, a gift needn't be expensive to be meaningful, and when close friends don't put any thought into a gift, that thoughtlessness can sting worse than getting no gift at all.

I also love Bluesapphires candle holders, they're beautiful!
posted by msali 01 January | 15:13
I got three books, and a gift card from CHEFS.COM. Oh and my wife is going to foot the bill for a flight to Kona, if I am feeling up to it, and I probably am (late this month, before my next PET scan).
posted by danf 01 January | 15:57
Beliefnet says giving gifts aren't "a hard and fast rule" for Muslims celebrating Eids. Also the Islamic calendar is lunar, so the holidays are at different times of the year. The Jewish calendar is also lunar, but every so often adds a leap month. Those years have 2 Purims.

My holidays were nonexistent.
posted by brujita 01 January | 16:33
I received the most wonderful cashmere lined gloves from a friend who guessed the perfect size and color for me. And my friend didn't even know that I've started suffering from freezing fingertips - this will encourage me to keep those hands warm.

My best accomplishment in gifting was for a friend's 8 y.o. girl. I happened upon cute kid clothes at a resell shop; I washed them and sewed on a couple of loose snaps on the nifty cape and wrote a little poem - and she really seemed to like most of them. (You never know what she'll like)

I gave myself the gift of time off and a trip to visit friends.
posted by mightshould 01 January | 17:50
I don't really do Christmas gifts for anyone other than my kids. I don't really see much of the rest of my family and previous gift exchanges there were mostly of the type that Senyar described above - stupid pointless crap bought without thought in the name of satisfying an obligation in the cheapest, most convenient way possible.

I did get a cool gift from my kids - two Pink Floyd LPs. The recently-released The Endless River not such a big deal, but they also got an LP version of Wish You Were Here which isn't available here and had to be imported. Because they aren't old enough to have a credit card, they can't really buy things online, so they had to organise all this through an actual shop. I was quite touched that they went to so much trouble.

I continued my pattern of only buying small number of quality gifts for the kids (my ex is big on buying them lots of crap for Christmas, seeming to feel that more presents is always better). I bought the girls a laptop each (they need them for school this year anyway, as the school is going full-digital, but bought ones that are much better than they would need for school - Lenovo Yoga 2). They were so excited - my youngest daughter was actually dancing in her seat when she unwrapped it and saw what it was :-). My son got a cell phone and a new bike - a 'proper' mountain bike from an actual bike shop. It's amazing the difference in quality ('Trek' brand) compared to the department store bikes and he loves it to bits.
posted by dg 01 January | 18:30
needlegrrl - it's gorgeous in person. I also have the falling star pattern as I decided two friends would like them and a set of 3 was the only thing in stock ;) The artist sends a lovely note with them and I've never received anything so well packed. They're definitely in my top 3 best etsy purchases ever.

Kidlet's favorite presents so far seem to be the boots, the see & say, the matching game (Seek-a-boo if anyone needs a gift for a little one) and various books. Thankfully my family's pretty good about keeping it reasonable.
posted by bluesapphires 01 January | 19:23
I hate the whole gift runaround. I don't want crap! I don't want to give you crap! Why don't we all just save our money? I really only buy for my immediate family. My Mom said she and Dad wanted nothing this year. And that's what they got! Some church people sent us food items, though one sent a bag of Christmas decorations, none of which are my style. Most will probably disappear when I pack up the holiday stuff. Guess I can't donate them to the annual rummage sale :P
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 01 January | 20:53
My brother and I have settled into a nice rhythm of buying each other modern design-related stuff. This year he gave me a Laurel Mushroom lamp he got a good deal on. I got him this print of Mies's Farnsworth house in a slick white frame.
posted by mullacc 02 January | 10:11
Yes, I'm not the hugest fan of the obligatory gift giving. I quite like giving people gifts -- especially baby gifts! -- but I don't love the whole performance of it at this time of the year.

that said, the gift that we gave, that went over very well, was a silly plastic journal thing for our daughter. It's password protected, and voice activated, and only responds to her voice, so she thinks that's brilliant.

My parents in law, who are usually very considerate (although way too generous) gift givers, gave me, among a couple of other things, a weird pillow with pictures of cards on it. I mean, I know it's because I play bridge, I get where they are coming from, but it's so not my style, and I loathe gag gifts, if that's what they were going for. It's very distinctive, and my FIL was so proud of it. Sigh. There's no way of disappearing the thing, I suspect.
posted by gaspode 02 January | 10:11
My big gift is still to be bought but I am thrilled in advance -- my Bear is buying me a Seahawks jacket. And my brother and his wife gave me a beautiful simple blue pearl on a silver chain. Other gifts this year were small but lovely --a bag of teas, coffee and a covered mug in a family secret Santa exchange, very warm socks and a chicken shaped egg cup from Bear, a really lovely evergreen smelling candle from one of my staff.

I went to town as usual buying gifts and I'd say scored some big hits. I buy early and I aim for things people would love but feel unwilling to spend on for themselves. So for example a good fuzzy logic rice cooker for one of my foodie staff, a Bose Bluetooth speaker for my brother, very good earphones for both my brother and his wife, a warm and gorgeous scarf for my sister in law, a wine decanter/saver for a family member who loves wine but drinks it slowly, an old Ipod Nano loaded with favorite music for a dear FIL for the secret Santa exchange, etc.

I wouldn't mind a holiday where I just gave things, as I love plotting to do that and seeing delight from recipients. I agree with TPS and Senyar that gifts that are crap, bought solely out of obligation without real thought, are disappointing at best. But I certainly like giving what people I love will love.

It doubtless helps that I'm a non observant Jew and it's all sort of optional for me anyway.
posted by bearwife 02 January | 13:41
While I do enjoying finding the perfect gifts for people, definitely more than I like receiving gifts, I find the excess at Christmas overwhelming. I am Jewish, and growing up I got seven small gifts and a bigger gift on the eighth night of Hanukah.

My husband is Catholic and we celebrate Christmas, mostly for our kids. We put a $100 limit on gifts for each other, and we didn't go overboard at all on gifts for the kids (especially the baby who is too young to get it at all). But his family, wonderfully and generously, goes a little nuts on gifts for the kids, and it's just not something I'm used to. When everyone is going wild tearing the paper off gifts, I just feel... Overwhelmed. But I am not complaining, it's how they do things.

The gift that was a big hit with my husband was a direwolf sweatshirt. My son's favorite gift was a plastic toolbox filled with tools, especially the hammer. My daughter seems to love chewing on her sock monkey the best. :)
posted by amro 02 January | 17:11
I aim for things people would love but feel unwilling to spend on for themselves
Me too. It's a lot more work, particularly figuring out what it is they really want but will never buy for themselves, but very rewarding when you get it right. Even better when you can find something they would really, really want if they knew it existed.
posted by dg 02 January | 19:49
My husband bought me a pair of boots I forgot I wanted. They were on some wishlist or other of mine a looooong time ago, but the company stopped making them in 2009... but they started making them again, and he remembered it more readily than I did. And they're super comfy.

I also purchased fine lanyards for both of my beloved parents.

Finally, I bought my baby an overnight bag she could probably fit inside, but it's cute anyway. And that's basically all we got her.
posted by Madamina 02 January | 23:20
My son got me a 7" ceramic chef's knife and my daughter got me a bottle of 15-year-old fig balsamic vinegar. Both of them were genuine (and really cool) surprises.
posted by Thorzdad 03 January | 09:11
amro & brujita it's interesting to hear about your experiences with Hanukkah.
posted by jouke 03 January | 10:16
I got some nice things. My father gave me a new drill... so that he can get his drill back. My sister systematically went down the gift list I gave her and my mother at their request: a set of ramekins, a set of mixing bowls, a book on how to wear scarves, a wireless mouse. My mother gave me money. I got chocolate and some personal care items in my stocking.

I gave my father a protective mask for use while he's cutting and sanding in his workshop, plus a number of replacement filters for it, and a pair of slippers I'd made for him. Mum got a navy cap and scarf set I'd made for her, earrings, and a movie she once said she wanted to see again although she now claims she didn't. My sister got a coral hat and scarf set I'd made for her, the hoodie she asked for, a pair of earrings, and a snowman clock as she's Christmas crazy and especially likes snowmen.

I think the best gift I gave away this year was for my Hello Kitty-obsessed little grandniece: a hat and mittens set with the Hello Kitty image worked into them in beads. She got a lot of Hello Kitty stuff with it that I got at the dollar store: a notebook, a little tin carrying case, pens and pencils, puzzles, and colouring books. It went over well and I got a hug for it.
posted by Orange Swan 03 January | 21:05
The kiddo (18 months) got some lovely things but one experience left me a bit confused. A group of 5 of us with kids the same age arranged to meet for lunch shortly before Christmas. All the others showed up with gifts for my kid (and for the other kids). It hadn't occurred to me that we would do gifts so I arrived empty-handed.

The whole thing made me feel very socially clueless. And I don't really want to solve the problem by getting gifts next time, either - I'd rather not perpetuate the gift explosion. These are people I like but not super-close friends. Maybe I feel an AskMe question coming on...

posted by altolinguistic 05 January | 11:52
Yeah, that seems to be one of those creeping things where, anytime you meet a group of people with kids anywhere near Christmas there is an expectation that it's a 'Christmas event' which must involve the exchange of gifts. Maybe yo could suggest a kind of 'secret santa' where each child receives one cost-limited present from one other attendee as a compromise between the 'must give everyone a gift' mentality and, well, sanity?
posted by dg 05 January | 16:50
I second dg's suggestion. So much more sensible.
posted by bearwife 05 January | 21:37
Mr. init gave me the Historical Atlas of Maine. It's a gorgeous, meticulous trove of maps, essays, and data.
posted by initapplette 06 January | 14:36
Photos of the lobby of the Woolworth Builing in NYC || Photo Friday: New