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Jennifer Snook


Buying gifts is hard.

Your dad doesn’t seem to want anything, and you gave him enough tool kits when you were younger to last a lifetime. So, you head to Walmart, buy him a bag of chocolate and a can of that weird coffee only he likes, and wrap it up while wishing your gifts could be a little more original.

I’ve certainly done that myself. But then, what’s wrong with that? It’s something I know he’ll enjoy, and neither of us have to agonize over the process. Seems like a win-win.

There’s a stigma against buying someone something generic: something that thousands of other people buy every day without a second thought. It’s seen as lazy, as disingenuous, as an indication that you don’t care or know much about the person you’re buying for.

Personalized, handmade gifts are revered while store-bought ones are shunned.

There’s no reason that should be the case, though. Sure, it might take more effort to make something than to buy it, but that’s not really important. What’s important (beyond the old saying of ‘it’s the thought that counts, which is still true) is that the gift is something the person will use.

Most people would much rather receive a gift they’ll use than one that blood, sweat, and tears were poured into. And most people would rather give something that will get used, too.

Entertainment, food, even money: These are popular items as gifts because they are popular.

People want them, including the person you’re buying for.

There is no shame or insult in buying a gift you know the recipient will like, even if it’s not very creative. A standard gift is perfectly fine.

If all else fails, ask what people want. And if you don’t want to do that — or they just don’t tell you what they want — maybe you don’t have to get them something this year.

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