I'm a practical gift sorta person. Granted, I asked for my fair share of video game consoles growing up, but I was thrilled to get a new cell phone as an early birthday present.
I'm also one of those people who don't mind gift cards at all, so I have to remember that quite a few people consider gift cards a product of laziness.
A gift card to a bookstore is one of my favorite things, because when I have it in hand Borders becomes Schroedinger's Bookstore: I both own and don't own every single item in the store. The possibilities are endless!
Heck, I'm currently prepping meat for a brand new slow cooker (programmable and HUGE - so nifty) that had been my birthday gift from my partner. Practical or whimsical, they both work for me :-) Course since my office is overrun with my geeky knicknacks, finding space for non-practical stuff is always a trial.
For me, the breakdown isn't practical/non-practical, it's more about generic/specific - I'd much rather get a practical gift that says "I know you, and this reminds me of some part of you" than a non-practical gift that could be for anyone. I love practical gifts that help me with goals I'm trying to achieve (cooking, gardening, etc.), or that make chores I hate easier.
This, a thousand times this.
Definitely a practical gift person... trending over to a "no gift" person. I'm in a place in my life where I'm really not into acquiring much stuff. Been there, done that, want to travel light. So I mostly prefer not getting gifts, and the bar for practical is pretty high, as my own bar to own things right now is something like "would I want to ship this to China with me" with the exception "or is this something I can easily find a home for". (No, it's nothing like a given that I'm moving to China when I finish up here, it just makes for a handy reference point. So I own a hot air-rework station*, and I might pick up a kiln... but I'm generally not into having things, those are just things that serve useful functions and I know I can find homes for.)
One friend gave me a canvas tote bag with an Amanita Muscaria on it - that was a lovely gift. My sister gave me a mug made at a ceramics studio next to the circus school she will be attending come fall. I'm kind of in an ongoing discussion with some of my Taiji students about gifts, as they want to give back for the time I spend teaching, which, after some discussion, I'm kind of convinced I'd bee a boor not to see and respect. But even being bought tasty treats is kind of difficult.
* Which I very nearly love enough to ship to China. Best tool ever. (I am including the attached fine temp control soldering iron. OMG.)
I understand your compulsion to travel light, even though I certainly do not do it anymore. That's what comes from owning a house. And my sibs and I have all come to present detente: each of us knows that buying things for the others that they neither need nor want is a good expenditure of our limited funds. So there is pretty much no gift-giving within my family, with the limited exception of if someone sees something that they KNOW one of the others would love/need, it will be bought without regard to occasion. That doesn't happen often now that we are older and more settled, but it does every once in a while.
For me, I want fun shit. Particularly if it is selfish fun shit. The two best gifts Rome Girl ever gave me were:
1. DJ Hero - even though she was appalled at the thought of another plastic musical instrument in the house.
2. A real vintage Misfits T-shirt - even though she's appalled by pretty much everything Glen Danzig has written/done/thought in his entire life. (This is a girl who listens, for the most part, to Frank Sinatra and Rat Pack albums and gay icons like George Michael, Madonna, Cher, etc...)
Rome Girl is the opposite. When we first started dating I found out that no boyfriend had ever given her jewelry. So I fucking showered her with jewelry on any excuse for a special occasion until she finally said "can't I have something fucking useful?"
Since then she's said the best and most romantic gift I've ever gotten her is a maid to come in once a week and do the dishes, clean the apartment and do most of the laundry. It baffles me that she finds this romantic but three years later she still showers me with kisses every Wednesday afternoon when the maid leaves.
My overall theory on this is that boys don't grow up and continue to want toys while girls tend to like grown up shit - as long as it presented to them as grown up shit and not as "you are expected to cook for me so I bought you a crock pot, bitch."
A maid is a HIGHLY romantic gift!
I think for me the line is whether or not I'd buy something for myself, with some nuance as to whether if I *did* buy it for myself, it'd be an "ordinary purchase" or a "splurge". So something I'd use *and enjoy using*, like kitchen knives or whatnot, is a lovely gift, esp. if they'd be nicer than ones I'd buy for myself. So is a gift certificate for Lush or Bare Minerals, both things I use and like, but don't often purchase because they're pricy...
On the other hand, I don't think I will ever be practical enough to appreciate a leaf blower as a present, because while it's something I might need or want, it's *not* something that the actual use of would make me happy.
Perhaps that's the answer - it's not a question of whether the item is practical or not, it's whether it brings the recipient joy...heck, even "nice" jewelry could be considered more practical than joyous, in certain circumstances (the sort of thing that compliments ones' "interview suit" and is never worn otherwise...)
I can see that. It's definitely been "upgraded" things that I remember most among my practical gifts. Though as a poor college student, I couldn't wait for Christmas when there was always a box with a new toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc., under the tree. I was very grateful for those things at the time!
2011-07-11 02:31 pm (UTC)
I think what sarapada
says has a lot to do with it, but there's more to the "practical gift". For me, a vacuum cleaner is something for the house, and if you buy one and gift wrap it and give it to me for my birthday it looks very much like you're saying "here, you need to do the vacuuming". But last year for my birthday OldBloke got me a set of small gardening tools and they were fab because he knew I'd use them for my hobby. Vacuuming will never be a hobby.
And I would be happy to receive a really nice vacuum for a gift. It's definitely a difference.
I'm an equal-opportunity gift-receiver. I love getting jewelry but I also love getting socks. One of my best gifts ever was when I got a KitchenAid mixer from my grandmother. Actually, when there's a gift-giving holiday approaching, I hardly ever spare a thought to what I'd like to receive, only what I plan to give. I get about ten times more pleasure from picking out a great gift for someone and seeing them open it than I do from receiving things.
My family doesn't typically give fancy gifts. Either it's something useful or practical (clothing, books, robes, kitchen items) or something really unique. One year my aunt spent hours on eBay scouring the Internet for a used copy of a cookbook that my alma mater put out in the 1970s. My grandmother got my aunt a vintage lemonade set one year because she remembered her admiring one in an antique store. Then you have to tell the story of why you thought that'd be a good gift, and where you found it, and so on. That's part of the fun.
Nobody gets ties or gift certificates in my family. It's always tailored to the person. Last Christmas my mother gave her mother a quilt she'd hand-embroidered. I got a hand-knitted afghan one year from my grandmother. My cousin made soaps one year and gave everyone pretty wrapped soap. Last year I got my dad a super awesome insulated travel coffee mug. Me and my brother went in together and got him an iPod Touch because he'd been wanting one but would never have sprung for it himself. If I get jewelry from my parents (I looooove jewelry) it'll be something oddball or unique they found in some remote gift shop in Arizona.
I definitely think much more about what I'm giving than what I'm receiving--giving an appreciated gift is so much fun!
I like your family's approach. It makes gift giving real instead of just a ritualized chore.
I love practical gifts, but I admit I love them much more when they are indulgent practical gifts -- things I just wouldn't splurge on for myself. If my partner gave me another vacuum cleaner to replace the vacuum cleaner I just broke, I wouldn't appreciate it. But if he gave me a Roomba I'd be thrilled.
And yes, we always got socks and underwear under the Christmas tree in my family of origin.
Indulgent are definitely better.
I love practical gifts for all the reasons you mentioned. I have requested, and been thrilled to receive, long underwear. I agree they're more exciting when they're indulgent (the long underwear was silk, the sheets are high thread count, etc.).
Ooo, silk long underwear is lovely!!!
Of all the stuff I asked for for this year's birthday, the only "splurgy" thing was a box of Vosges toffees I saw mentioned on a friend's LJ that sounded amazing.
The rest of the list was comprised of giftcards or otherwise practical items.
There is no shame in that game. I lose jewelry pretty easily, but something I'll actually use? Awesome.
Giftcards are underrated. Particularly when the giver knows that it's someplace you love to shop.
I probably tend toward practical gifts, giving and receiving, because my ultimate goal with a gift is "Do I think you will use and enjoy this?" This is why I have given people: a copy of the Art Of War for a birthday where the recipient was going through problems at work, a (garage sale) box of the large, asparagus-size canning jars that are no longer made, or two different pitchers on the same holiday for someone who collects and uses pitchers, among others.
Either I am a terrible person or my nature is to be pretty practical. I mean, I shot for "fun" as a secondary value in the above examples, and "beauty" is often a consideration as well, but I have a LOT of experience with family members defaulting to things like bath sets, which I hate and never use, that I have to say that my real wish for any gift is that the giver looks at it and things "I'll use that," whether the use is practical, fun, or aesthetic. Financial value is my least consideration, and I tend to put gifts of jewelry into the "financial" category, honestly, unless it's exactly to a person's taste.
And in my family, we did a lot of practical gifts as well as fun ones; it was a nice mix, and I always like getting a pair of socks or whatever from "Santa" (I'm unmarried, so my parents still think it's their obligation to fill up a stocking for me, and I have to admit I enjoy it) because it's something they thought I would use.
I'm with you on the gift sets--please don't buy me perfume! I can't wear it and don't need it! Though I don't mind a good body wash in a yummy scent, because I will use that.
I'm a mix with a twist, as the cocktail menu says. I like stuff I can use, though jewelry and clothes are fine. (Growing up, we pretty much had lists for our birthdays and Christmas: we could put whatever we wanted on them, and our parents would get some of the stuff for us. Stuff in Christmas stockings was a mix.)
My thing is that, as far as the current technology allows, I don't like having a lot of physical stuff. I've moved too often, and I don't think I'm going to stay in my current apartment for ten years. Clothing and jewelry pack down easily, are somewhat practical, and have no virtual equivalent, so they're good, but knickknacks and similar...well, pretty, and I definitely like the thought, but I can never quite help thinking that it'll be one more thing to put in a box someday.
I feel like life is all about acquiring stuff, and then disposing of it again. I am trying to limit the acquisition of impractical things now, and I do so by trying to look past the "shiny!" to "will I still love this in 10 years?"
We don't plan on moving again ever, so it's easy to fill the place up in a slow but steady fashion. I have to fight the urge.
I love being thought of in a generous way. The gift is irrelevant next to that. :) However, if you must know, I tend to appreciate practical gifts a bit more, and I tend to appreciate hand-made gifts more, too. That points back to being thought of, with the added investment of someone else's time.
I like doodads if they are nifty, and if I can quietly pass them along to someone else when I am done being enamored of them. :)
Passing along is something that has to happen, definitely. And a well-considered gift is always much more appreciated.
But I am an extremely difficult person to shop for. (that will change once I get my house in a year or two, anything for the house will make me estatic). To me a practical gift is actually a gift card to some place I use alot. I know people HATE gift cards, but they ask for lists of CD's, DVD's, Sheet Music and such I want, and of course, they can never find them or there are so many versions/renditions they are afraid to choose the wrong symphony performing. So I usually say, "Gift Card to xys" and they go, "Are you sure?" And I assure them I am, and sometimes, I get enough of them to one place I can actually afford something on the high end and really nice. (Like the complete set of Beethoven's Symphonies as directed by Bernstein.)
I love unusual gifts that people know would fill my quirky side, but if someone bought me a set of pliers or a dewalt reciprocating saw, I'd be squealing past New Year's. (Not to mention anything from Williams and Sonoma... I have expensive taste... it's all their fault.)
I don't collect 'trinkets' but I do collect gems and minerals, and I know full well they have no idea what I'm looking for. Hey, 12 pack of compressed air for cleaning them? AWESOME!.
Oh cool, new high end cutting scissors for my sewing projects! YES! How did you know?
Yeah, practical works alot better and I'd rather get things I needed than things I don't. (Or things I don't like which I end up donating 6 months later.)
2011-07-11 03:51 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm a bit of both.
I think that giftcards get a bad rap, because they do serve an excellent purpose if they are chosen for places that the receiver loves to shop. Like Williams-Sonoma [drool].
And you will find that having a house leads to an appalling amount of stuff piling up.
I like gifts that are given with ME in mind, whatever the nature of them might be. My parents have an annoying habit of giving me gifts that are things they think I should have, rather than things that I might want or need. So CDs by groups they think I should know more about, practical stuff they think I should have to keep in my car... It bugs me because it makes me feel like they don't really see me and see what I'm interested in. Apart from that, if somebody gives me a practical gift that is something they know I'll like (because I've been, say, kvetching about X item that I am not really all that crazy about but don't want to spend to replace), then it means that they've paid enough attention to me to know what is important to me. The same can go for frivolous things.
A gift that is well-considered is definitely superior whether it's practical or frivolous.
As people have said above, I like practical gifts if they're something I'd enjoy using, or if they're fancier/better than what I'd be willing to splurge on for myself.
Fancy cookware is awesome, because I love to cook, but a fancy vacuum is just not fun. Unless it's a Roomba, because then it's actually helping me avoid the boring chore.
I'd still be happy with a fancy vacuum (or would have before the Roomba). But I'm extreme that way.
When giving, I prefer gifts that are practical as long as they are also thoughtful and specific to the user.
One of the best gifts I have recently given was for my mother's birthday in March- we got her a gift card (lame, I know, but we were at a loss) and in a last minute impulse, my daughter suggested buying one of those reusable coffee cups with a sippy lid (like http://www.amazon.com/Copco-2510-9963-Reusable-16-Ounce-Capacity/dp/B0032Z7UJE/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1310398881&sr=8-5
). I was not at all sure about buying this - she has a ton of coffee mugs, after all! - and worried she'd think it was just random and whatever, but my daughter was sure she'd like it. Score a point for the kid, because she's used it EVERY SINGLE DAY and even thanks us for it now and again - it keeps her coffee with milk from getting that skin on the top so she doesn't throw it out, keeps it warm and lets her take her morning coffee to work. At $3 at the local drug store, I consider that gift a total win and ultimately better than the $25 gift card, which went to buy who-knows-what.
When it comes to getting, I love it when people acknowledge my interests or give me something I can use, but mostly I just love that anyone took the time to give me anything at all, so it's hard to go wrong with me. :)
A thoughtful gift is always superior, but I don't have a problem with a gift card myself.
My preference is for *good* gifts, which is stuff I actually want. This hardly makes me unique, but it's the only way I can sum up my fun/practical preferences. If the practical thing is something I want but can't/wouldn't get it for myself for some reason, it's perfect. If the fun thing is something that takes into account my likes and passions, it's perfect. I don't want practical gifts that might be criticisms (one of the worst gifts I ever received was at work, in a Secret Santa thing, and it was a can crusher - my desk always has Coke cans on it) and I don't want 'fun' gifts that basically say, I had to buy you something, and this is a thing! However, if I had to choose between the two, I'd probably choose practical, because an unwanted practical thing usually has more resale value. :-)
A very practical preference!
I love both types of gifts, but I think I get more excited about functional gifts. The slow cooker that my sister bought me gets much more use than the pretty jewelry my godfather and his wife gave me for my birthday. Both were appreciated, the slow cooker just gets used more.
My boyfriend gets me presents that are somewhere in between- he doesn't like giving "domestic" presents, because he thinks they don't make good gifts. But he's bought me awesome books, and an external hard drive, and other items that aren't super practical, but are much appreciated.
I think you have a good picture of it: both are nice, if well thought out. But practical ones are the ones that I get most excited about.
Ferrett still is baffled by this.
I'm definitely more of a practical gift person! I don't like jewelry much and rarely wear it. If I do have jewelry, it's silver or white gold and the gems are simple and understated. I find most of the stuff today ugly.
The gifts that I like that may not be considered practical - games for my PS2 that I want, CDs/Music, and books.
Yes, I love socks. My feet easily get cold, so socks are wonderful for me!
My family is a mix of practical and totally useless, but desired gifts. I have a thing for flamingos, so even tho I don't need them, I have several little knickknacks from the 50's & 60's Florida tourist tacky that I adore. I am specific about the totally useless gifts tho. I always ask my mom for practical things I want, usually kitchen items, but would never buy myself... bread machine, giant crock pot, smoker/grill. Its the time of year to ask for the big ticket items that my parents are more than happy to provide.
Ryan's family is all about the practical, to the point of leaving the sale sticker on to prove how frugal they can be at crimmas and still give something you need. Altho some years, I'm pretty sure its just a not so subtle sign from his mother that she does not like me. Last year, she re-gifted almost everything I'd given to her the year before. Forgetfulness? Maybe. I kept my mouth shut, its not worth the aggravation.
Anway, I like a mix of practical and silly fun!
Ouch. That's a little painful. I'm sorry she's not better to you.
I like (and it appears most who've answered DO like) gifts that are FOR ME. Ones that show you thought about what I like, what I use, what I do... and are not group gifts. There are very few things* that can be given to a very wide range of people, and everyone will be happy with them.
I esp hate holiday/theme gifts. I loathe holiday decorating--I don't see the point in putting all that crap up, just to take it right back down.
I really like VERY practical gifts, if they are either much higher end than I would usually get/use, or if they are in MASS BULK. I give my Grandmother things like 6 sticks of deoderant, 4 bottles of baby powder, etc. I was once given 12 bottles of baby oil (I use it everytime I take a shower), and it was a great gift. My mother used to give me new socks every Christmas--a LOT of new socks, like three or four packages of six. That was also great.
One pair of socks? NOT such a great gift, unless I barely know you and it's the kind of socks you've seen me use/etc.
A girlfriend of a cousin got my name once in a Christmas thing... and gave me a pack of hairties, the exact kind I use. AWESOME. The same gift, with nothing else, from my husband? TOTAL CRAP. (Unless he got me like fifty of them, then we're back to awesome... so maybe there's a dollar amount factor in there somewhere... or maybe it's just a 'how easy is it to notice' thing.)
Overall for me, practical is WAY better than fluff... and thoughtful goes a long way. If it can't be thoughtful, then I want TRULY useful. I'd rather have a $5 gift card to a grocery or gas station than a $10 "cute" figure/candleholder/etc. A few people have said gift cards are underrated, and I agree... but know what else I think is underrated?? CASH**.
HRm... I'm also materialistic. I'm not sure what cost it kicks in at, but there is a side of me that can go, "WTF were they thinking?!?... but holy crap!! it was expensive" and appreciate it on another level. Sort of a... if they were going to get it wrong, at least they tried throwing money at the problem.
*That said, a set of jumper-cables for everyone with a car is a great gift. (Trust me, I've given them twice now. People love them, even if they sometimes look at you funny, then love them LATER.)
**My cousin once gave me three dollars with "This is a Santa decorated Christmas dishtowel I did not get you." AWESOME!
When young couples get married, I always give them a toolbox stocked with tools. It's a peculiar looking gift among mantle clocks and champagne flutes, but I've been told time and again that it's one of the most useful gifts they received.
I like gifts that are for ME. Like, my bestie one christmas/birthday(4 days apart!) gave me a set of pyrex, a wustof knife, and an all-clad small saucepan. I was over the MOON, and I still use them all, and they are the nicest cooking things I own.
My mom isn't great at *getting* me, but two years ago, I opened a very large box, and found a beautiful red fedora inside. I'd never said a word to her, or even been shopping with her recently, but I'd tried on that hat 5 or 6 times on my own. It was brilliant.
My boyfriend painted me a painting. With a freaking broken collarbone, he made me a painting, and when I opened it, I had to excuse myself for a minute to go and be all weepy because it was so perfect.
2011-07-11 05:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Yes to ALL the presents!
That's so awesome. What a sweet thing to do.
Two of the best gifts I got were a wok and a rice cooker. The silver ewer? The pewter serving tray with engraved rabbits? Those just sit around requiring dusting and polishing. The wok and rice cooker get used several times a week and have for over fifteen years. I know they cost under $20 a pieces, but they are wicked useful. Utility over glamour.
That said, I do really enjoy my newish watch
. But I picked it out for myself and sent the request through the pipeline to get it as a gift.
Yes, I have silver pieces that have never been used and are just tarnished in the cabinet. Lovely, but not useful.