The Best Gift I Ever Gave Cost $2

The best gift I ever gave was a ladle that cost $2 and came from the hardware store.

A Sociologist Looks at Gift-giving

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

What to Buy When Invited to a Birthday Party for a Baby

I have reached that stage of my life where I've begun to attend the birthday parties of children produced by friends. "What do you buy for a baby?" I asked myself as I looked at the invitation inviting me to a one-year-old's party.

The Best Places to Hide Your Holiday Gifts

PRESENTS.

Gift for Teacher

“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.”

Kitchen-related Gifts

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.

What Happens to a Gift Card if a Store Goes Bankrupt And Closes?

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.

What to Get for a Person Who Wants Nothing for Christmas

As an adult, when people ask me what I want for Christmas, I say: "Nothing".

When Bill Gates Is Your Secret Santa

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.

An American Girl Doll That Doesn’t Exist Yet, and Other Christmas List Wishes From a Child

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

Gifts to President Obama

• Large, black Hermes golf accessory bag including set of lock and key, and extra strap in bottom compartment, presented in cream colored drawstring bag. Est. Value - $7,750.00 From: His Excellency Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, and Mrs. Carla BruniSarkozy, First Lady of the French Republic

A Bunch of Economists Talk About Gift-Giving

In the latest Freakonomics podcast for Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal and Stephen Dubner talk to a bunch of economists about the best way to give gifts, and then Dubner gives Ryssdal some gifts.