Gift-giving should show thought

Megan Schmidt and Megan Schmidt

Seven hundred dollars can buy a lot. A nice vacation, a new wardrobe, books for a couple of semesters… it’s a decent chunk of change.

Seven hundred dollars is also the amount that the average person spends buying Christmas gifts each holiday season. While that may not seem to be a lot to be spending on your loved ones, it is quite a bit to fork over for a single day of the year.

The hunt for the perfect gift has gotten out of hand. People have no idea what to buy each other. Half of the people on your shopping list don’t need a single thing in the world.

Of course, giving gifts at Christmas is not simply an act of charity. Buying a loved one a present is symbolic of friendship, respect and admiration. It recognizes a relationship in your life when you put time and thought into a gift for someone.

Yet it’s so easy to be thoughtless when picking out Christmas gifts these days. Now, you can hop on-line, order some gadget you’ve never even come in physical contact with yourself and have it shipped off to your aunt in Idaho. And it only takes two minutes.

Don’t get me wrong — to receive any present from another person is a kind gesture, no matter what it is, and we should all be appreciative of it.

But apart from Mom and Dad, most people in your life are clueless as to what you want or need. Yet they know they have to get you something.

Buying gifts for certain people turns into a chore. You do it because you know they are going to buy you something, and you don’t want to be the jerk who received a gift but didn’t give one in return.

There are some items which are perennials in the “I had no idea what to get you this year” gift category. One great way to indicate that you just couldn’t be bothered is to buy a collective gift, which usually works for couples or families you have to buy for.

When people go for the collective gift option, you will usually find them giving each other a large quantity of some food item. For example, an obnoxiously large tin can of popcorn, or some cheese tray from Hickory Farms.

Food is an obvious gift idea because everyone eats it, making it one of the most uncreative gift ideas ever conceived.

One of the only other acts which all human beings (hopefully) engage in is the act of bathing.

But I must beg of all of you: let’s stop this “bath and body” gift giving this year once and for all. If I receive even one more container of body lotion, shower gel or body spray this year as a present, I will scream. And don’t even think about getting them all in a matching scent to make a cute little set. It’s overdone.

As a rule, guys should not get their girlfriends scented showery stuff unless one of the following is true:

a.) the girl is obsessed with a particular fragrance and obsessively must have every product ever made in that scent, and,

b.) the boyfriend is absolutely, 100 percent certain that he knows which scent it is, or,

c.) the boyfriend wants his girlfriend to know that he failed at discovering her real interests and finding an appropriate gift to complement them.

Recognizing that a girl takes showers does not demonstrate how intimately you know her. So Bath and Body Works it at your own risk, boys.

My biggest pet peeve is not that I’ve racked up a lifetime supply of such products, but more that we spend so much money on gifts that our loved ones don’t even enjoy.

People need to stop being so worried about finding the perfect gift for every single person they know.

Few people know each other well enough to accomplish that.

Yet every year, each person continues to log hours at the mall, only to be disappointed by what they receive in return.

Even though few college students are likely to spend that average of $700 each holiday season, we still want our money to be well spent.

I know Christmas would not be the same if I suggested we all just keep our money and buy ourselves our own gifts.

That may be more logical, but it’s not as fun. But there’s no reason you can’t switch things up a bit.

Instead of buying your friends the same old stuff, forego the gift exchange this year in favor of getting together for a group dinner.

After all, around the holidays your time is better spent enjoying the company of the people you actually know than it is rushing around a department store with a bunch of people you don’t.