It's happening again.
Once again, a bunch of us is getting together for our friend's birthday, and once again we're told "no gifts".
But, as with all our friends, he's such a great guy, we just want to get him something really badly.
Problem is, we have no idea what the hell to get him. What does he like? We have no clue. And this happens every time.
For a while there, I liked V's idea of gift cards. But lately I'm starting to think of it as a cop-out, at least as far as family and close friends go. My friends don't need a gift card. We are all doing well enough financially that we are not hurting for gifts. That is why people specifically ask for no gifts to begin with. We just like giving each other small, cute stuff just for the heck of it. My only problem is that my residual Aspergers prevents me from ever getting it right.
Steering clear of any party where gifts are implied, as V has once suggested, is a good idea, sort of. The downside to it that I see is that it will severely limit the number of opportunities for our group of friends to get together. Besides, I know my friends. If I tell them it is just a party for no reason and no gifts are required, they'll show up with food. Or they'll figure out the real reason for the party and bring gifts anyway. And I will do the same for them. That's how we are.
So now I am racking my brain as to what this guy likes.
To show you just how clueless I am at picking gifts, let me give you a quick list of the amazing stuff I picked for the man I've known intimately for over twenty years, Mr. Goldie.
1. The Infamous Playboy Subscription. Ideal gift, no? Riiiight. Mr. Goldie showed zero interest in the mag. In the end, I read it more than he did. (The articles really are good, no lie.) Then, we found out that it was hardly possible for us to read the magazine at all, as at any minute our children were likely to barge in. We spent the year hiding the unopened issues and changing the hiding place as the kids discovered it. After that, Mr. Goldie spent three years trying to cancel the darn thing. When he didn't renew, they called. He'd talk to them for an hour, trying to get them to cancel, and end up renewing again, with a free Maxim subscription thrown in. Eventually Mr. Goldie managed to cancel, but somehow we are still getting the free Maxim. The kids love it.
2. Mug-warmer. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
3. Full works of a sci-fi duo that we loved when we were teenagers. Turns out, tastes change. The sixteen volumes, however, are still sitting on our shelf.
4. Countless shirts. One ended up in my closet after Mr. Goldie dismissed it as "gay".
Mr. Goldie on his end, retaliated with:
1) A deep fryer. I developed a burning hatred for that thing, so we had to take it into the basement. It's still in there somewhere.
2) Five pounds of loose-leaf tea. I mean, I like tea, but this is like a lifetime supply. The tea came with a handy mug, designed so you could brew your tea at work. The mug broke on the first day, covering my desk and my work papers in tea leaves and hot water.
What can I say? Picking out gifts is a hard and thankless job.
What I've come to believe is that, with your close family, it's better to give gifts that are more or less immaterial - a trip to a favorite place taken together, a dinner at a nice restaurant if the person likes eating out, something you've made yourself. I found flowers work well with my mom. If you’re a woman and need a gift for your husband, go get yourself a Brazilian, he'll be ecstatic. Now clearly this won't work with your friends.
With friends, I figure a nice bottle of good liquor should always go over well. It helps immensely if a friend collects something. Maybe each person in our group should start collecting something different and spread the word. Mr. Goldie collects shot glasses, just so you know. I need something for a situation when the person doesn't require or expect gifts, but you like them so much, you still want to give them a little something. Now this, in turn, won't fly with anyone other than your close friends. With casual acquaintances, I guess, just do as you're told. Bring no gifts, donate to a charity of their choice, shove a gift card at them, give cash in an envelope. Whatever works.
If you have any other ideas, share them in the comments. I am severely challenged as far as gifts go and any suggestions will help.