Friday, November 30, 2007

You don't bring me lotion...anymore

And that's a good thing.

They're all out there now, you see. The magazines loaded with "holiday gift ideas". I've been avoiding them, for the most part, because I rarely bother to read magazines of any kind anymore. (And even when I did, the only one I bothered with regularly was Maxim, and the British Maxim sucks. Seriously. Take out all the ironic humor and fun, add a bunch of naked women and some seriously shitty attitudes).

But yesterday I was thumbing through Skye magazine, which comes free every month with our cable and is usually tossed unread. They had a little article about the Dr. Who Christmas episode though so I took it out of its plastic wrapping and opened it.

And there it was. The "Buy for Her!" article. And what were half of those gifts?

Frigging lotion. Bath kits. Environmentally correct body salves made from guano and recycled tea leaves or whatever. Make-up kits. Excuse me, but anyone who buys me any of those (who buys someone else make-up? How do you know what colors to get? Maybe they're like me and have sensitive skin?) will get a polite thank-you and my undying secret contempt.

Okay, maybe not that harsh. It is the thought that counts, after all, and people who know me will tell you, honestly, that I have more fun buying gifts for others than I do getting them. Foreals. But seriously, lotion? Why don't you just hand me a card that says, "I don't know you at all"?

I blame a lot of this on the idea that gift cards are somehow impersonal. I can tell you, though, a bookstore or Amazon gift card tells me you know me a lot better than a basket full of Jean Nate, because being able to get some free books=my idea of Best Holiday Ever. Gift cards may be impersonal, but let's face it; so are those "What to buy for Her/Him/the Boss/your neighbor" articles. Just like a few years ago when Amazon promised overnight shipping for Father's Day gifts so they'd be there in time--but only offered it on the items Amazon apparently thought were appropriate Father's Day gifts, which included golf equipment but did not include Wolverine graphic novels. And nothing I could do would get those gifts in time, because they'd set the days before FD aside just to ship golfing equipment, plaster ducks, ties, coffee table books about sports, etc.

Lotion is a bad gift. Most women already have a ton of it, because every year somebody forks it over for some holiday. Women who use it have a brand they already like. Women who don't aren't going to change because somebody gave it to them for free. And honestly, although I am probably the least easily offended person I know when it comes to matters of gender, I think it is a little offensive, because the implication is there's nothing I--or any other woman--enjoy more than spending hours in the bathroom. When in fact I enjoy quite a lot of things more.

I'm tired of being told pampering myself involves bubble baths and cloying fragrances. When for men pampering themselves means playing golf or doing cool stuff with their car or reading or whatever. You want to pamper me? Cook. Or, y'know, diamonds are always good too. :-)



I believe "it's the thought that counts" is just an excuse invented by people who give crappy gifts. At this time of year, I'm thankful I no longer work in an office and have to suffer through the office gift exchange. Instead of wasting money on that hideous porcelain frog music box that no one on this planet or any other has any use for, why not throw that $9.99 to charity where someone can benefit from it? I would have been thrilled to get a sticky note saying, "Your Secret Santa gave the $10 gift limit to the Salvation Army in lieu of buying you a dust gatherer (or lotion)."

BernardL said...

"Environmentally correct body salves made from guano and recycled tea leaves or whatever."


Anonymous said...

Thank you! I have to buy something for my brother-in-law's new gf this year, and everyone is suggesting 'a nice bath basket'...and I said almost exactly what you did: "so I should just SAY: I don't know you, so here's something generic and useless...oh, and btw, you smell bad."

Screw that.

I'm looking at a gift card to a video store. I'm figuring, with my brother in law, she'll need some escapism sometimes...

Robyn said...

HEE! My son told me the other day he doesn't think he'll ever get married, because he doesn't think he can afford it. When I asked him to explain, he said, "All these commercials show that every kiss begins with Kay. (If you remember, Kay is a jewelers.) I can't even kiss my wife unless I get her a diamond first?"

I personally am a huge fan of the gift card. I will probably return my gifts to get what I really want anyway, so I appreciate not having to stand in line!

My daughter has the right idea. She's doing custom music videos for her friends, featuring their favorite music and anime characters.

Anonymous said...

Though I'd rather have gift cards than the overtstuffed basket of bubbles that smells like lilacs, and will be immediately donated to the food bank, I'm not a big fan of shopping either.

I think I'm with you on the diamonds this year. Or amber. Red and green very holiday appropriate...


kirsten saell said...

"Ooh, make-up. So you think I don't look put-together enough."

"Ooh, lotion. So you think I'm getting wrinkly."

"Ooh, a micro-facial hair remover. Here, let me just stick this right up..."

I always thought gifts like that were an underhanded criticism--like buying someone mouthwash.

I like practical gifts--either gift cards, useful stuff I really want but can't afford, or things I specifically ask for. Of course, there was the year I asked my husband for a new vacuum cleaner. He took a whole afternoon to test about ten models and picked the best one, wrapped it all up nice and I loved it. My friends were horrified. "A vacuum? He got you a vacuum?!!" No amount of insisting that I really wanted it, and asked for it, and liked it was enough to convince them. He says he'll never get me something like that again.

bettie said...

I second the LMAO over "body salves made from guano and recycled tea leaves".

I'm allergic to most artificial scents. For me, the bland bath & body gift basket is just a headache under cellophane. If I had a dollar for every time I've had to say, "Thank you, this is so sweet. It's too bad I'm allergic," I'd be able to buy myself a sinus transplant.

If someone gives me scented products more than once, I start to suspect they're out to get me--I know it's paranoid, but the piercing pain of those allergy headaches makes me a tad irrational...

pacatrue said...

Yeah, some gifts are inherently insulting. I once received an electric toothbrush, which while expensive and useful, screams, "I think your breath is horrible." I know that this person bought electric toothbrushes for everyone that year, so it wasn't personal, but it still feels that way.

On the other hand, my wife specifically told me I could get some bath stuff for her this year. So I have.

Charles Gramlich said...

Pampering me means giving me books or food.


Don't forget the exercise equipment and videos. 'Tis the season to tell a loved one she's FAT...

kirsten saell said...

If someone gives me scented products more than once, I start to suspect they're out to get me--

Try having your mom, who is well aware of your deadly nut allergy, buy you a box of Ferrero Rochet. A message?

Angie said...

Heck, I'll take the Wolverine graphic novels. And yeah, I have five or six bottles of lotion stashed in various bathroom cupboards, usually with matching soaps and cologne. My mom is a big believer in "matching your scents" and every now and then on a birthday or Christmas tries to get me into it too. I use the soap, and occasionally squirt some cologne if I think about it, but I'm just not into lotion. [sigh]

I'm with you -- Amazon gift certs rock. [nodnod]


writtenwyrdd said...

I only have my mother and brother, but they are trained to get me bookstore/Amazon gift certificates. Score! Like clockwork every Xmas. Smooches to them for knowing what I really want. Or, rather, for listening when I tell them.

Maybe I'm not grateful enough, but I'd rather get nothing than something that shows they don't know me. I've regifted a time or two because of wildly off guesses.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I needed a post like this so bad today. Now I love bathsets, because I always prefer to get something I can use rather than the latest WOW cd or whatever else people think I should be interested in.

But today I've been taking care of the husband who is sick, and I can't help feel a little grumpy because when he gets sick he has me taking care of him and can spend the day in bed. When I get sick it's just tough luck because he can't take a day off to even help me take care of the kids. I want a complete day off so bad. One where I don't have to do twice as much work the next day to make up for it.

Gabriele C. said...

My father knows what I want (ckeck my Amazon wishlist, and else, money's always fine, and he knows what lotion I use) and I've told my SiL off the whole Christmas shenagian. If she's too stupid to find my Amazon wishlist, she can go and use her silly lotions herself.

Karen Erickson said...

I don't mind lotion but I love a gift card waaaaay more. And yeah if someone gave me makeup I'd be like gee...thanks. Cos that is so tough unless I specifically said I want THAT. Oh well.

I'm giving lots of gift cards this year! Impersonal? No way! They're gonna love 'em. I hope. ;)

December/Stacia said...

Oh, Kerry, those office gift exchanges are awful. Funny, though--when the hubs and I used to work together, the last year we worked together, I drew his name in the exchange and he drew mine. Aaaw.

See, Bernard, it's funny cuz it's true. :-)

Hi Rowan, thanks for the comment! Lol yes, that's it exactly. "I don't know you, but I do know I don't like the way you smell." Personally, I think gift cards are excellent gifts, especially if it's to a store you know the giftee likes.

Aaaw, your poor son! Tell him he wouldn't want the kind of woman who needs a diamond before he'll kiss her anyway.

December/Stacia said...

I love finding other women who don't like shopping, Seeley! And I admit, when someone does give me a gift card I usually have a horrible time spending it. The pressure is on, lol!

Oh, Kirsten, I know what you mean about those underhanded criticism gifts. It's like someone giving you a present and saying, "Well, honey, you obviously don't take care of yourself, so here's a hint." And lol about the vacuum, I know just what you mean! This year I asked for an ironing board, I can't wait to get it!

Oh, Bettie! You poor thing. I totally sympathize. I'm allergic to peppers (not peppercorns, but the actual vegetables) so I constantly have to be careful about eating things at parties and for a while it seemed I was constantly being given stuff like gourmet oils and such with pepper. It's not as bad a scent though--lol about thinking they're trying to kill you! I'd wonder too.

Paca, who buys electric toothbrushes for everyone on their list? Unless everyone on their list is their own child? Did the wife tell you what to buy, though?

Me too, Charles. Or DVDs. I like DVDs.

Oh, Kerry, did someone actually do that? That's AWFUL.

December/Stacia said...

Kirsten, did your Mom actually do that? Oh dear. Sounds like something my Mom would do.

Lol Angie, Wolverine rocks! I keep the lotion gift sets in my lingerie bin. There's no room for them anywhere else, and I have some idea it will scent the lingierie for when the laundry soap smell fades.

The thing is, I do use lotion, because I have dry skin. But I use unscented lotions so they don't war with whatever kooky Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scent I'm wearing that day.

I agree, written, it's kind of hurtful, isn't it? And good for you for having the family trained. Mine does the same thing, it's awesome. Being able to buy stuff for myself, which I never get to do, is a great gift.

Oh, boy, Michele, do I know what you're talking about. When I was sick a week or two ago the hubs actually called me to ask if I would make hamburgers for dinner that night. Which, um, involves an hour+ of me standing in the kitchen, making the patties then cooking them, so...not what I want to do when I'm sick. But when he's sick he gets to call off work and lay on the couch all day. A complete day off would indeed be the best gift ever.

Amazon wish lists really are the greatest things, aren't they Gabriele? I add everything I see to mine, just to keep track, but when someone actually takes the time to look it up and buy me something it's awesome.

I agree, Karen. Gift cards aren't impersonal. It's showing someone you care enough to give them something they can really enjoy.