Okay we do not have a gift guide for Valentine’s Day but if we did, this curiously-named fleece blanket would be at the top.
Thank you Businessweek for the hot tip that Jelly Belly is now making jelly beans for the patriarchy. The new flavors are BEER and chocolate-covered Tabasco. How masculine.
For the longest time, I felt bad about offering gift certificates to friends and family when the holiday season rolled around. They had a reputation as the lazy person’s gift of choice: They were impersonal, they were anything but unique, and there was something crass—given our long tradition of removing price tags from gifts and pretending that their exact value is unknown to the recipient – about their dollar amount being displayed so flagrantly.
The best gift I ever gave was a ladle that cost $2 and came from the hardware store.
An economic research forum in Chicago asked their panel of expert economists to weigh in on the following theory:
“Giving specific presents as holiday gifts is inefficient, because recipients could satisfy their preferences much better with cash.”
Ha! Most of them disagreed (55%, 22% “uncertain”), but I do love some of their responses:
“Because you don’t know what everyone else is giving,” says Kim Egan, a mother of two in Santa Monica, Calif. “You don’t want to under-give. You don’t want to over-give.”
Reddit has a Secret Santa program where anonymous users can buy and exchange gifts with other anonymous users, and as it turns out a Redditor named Rachel had Bill Gates as her Secret Santa.
The individual message [of a gift] says, “I value you according to the degree of our relationship” and anticipates the response, “I value you in the same way.” But the compound message that emerges from the unwrapping of gifts in the presence of the whole gathering allows more subtle meanings to be conveyed. It permits the husband to say to the wife, “I value you more than my parents” or the mother to say to the daughter-in-law, “I value you as much as my son so long as you are married to him” or the brother to say to the brother, “I value you more than our absent brothers, but less than our parents and much less than my children.” These statements, taken together, would define and sustain a social structure, if only because, by their gift messages, both parties to each dyadic relationship confirm that they have the same understanding of the relationship and the bystanders, who are interested parties, endorse that understanding by tacit approval.”
The New Republic looked back on a 1979 study by a University of Virginia sociologist named Theodore Caplow who interviewed 110 adults in Muncie, Indiana (AKA “Middletown, USA”) about their Christmas gift-giving experiences the previous year, and explained what he learned. Apparently it’s not just the thought that counts, but it’s also what the gift is and how it’s wrapped. “Money is an appropriate gift from senior to junior kin, but an inappropriate gift from junior to senior kin, regardless of the relative affluence of the parties,” Caplow wrote. That’s actually not how it works in my family, but then again, there’s no indication that Caplow spoke to any Asian American families where cash gifts are so common from junior to senior kin.
Photo: Queen Bee
I’m usually not much of a gift guide person, but I liked Megan McArdle’s gift guide for kitchen things because of how sensible it is (a $13 microplane grater is affordable and is something I’d actually would be happy to get). I also have a close friend who seemingly has everything, so my gifts to her are usually to take her out to dinner, but I once bought her a fish spatula for her birthday after remembering the one night we made dinner together where we ruined the fish using a regular spatula and it was kind of perfect. Plus, you could always get a nice oven mitt for the person who doesn’t like to cook, but likes frozen pizza.
At Deadspin, Drew Magary talks about the items on his daughter’s Christmas wish list and it’s very, very funny, mostly because his daughters asks for things like, an American Girl Doll that won’t be on the market until next year
Giving your friends and family things you made with a 3D printer is kind of like giving them something handmade, except instead of making something by hand you plugged a formula you found online into a machine, and then instead of a jar of jam or a picture frame or some clay jewelry (I don’t know what people ‘make’, ok) the thing you give them is a small, useless piece of plastic.
There are 17.7 million people who hold $210.5 million in unredeemed gift cards from Borders, which closed the last of their stores in 2011. A judge recently rule that Borders owes nothing to those people, effectively making those gift cards worthless. Which reminds me of this question: Is giving someone a bad gift better than giving someone a gift card? It’s the thought that counts.