Guys are really bad at giving gifts. Especially around Christmas time, we come up with the most bone-headed presents for those we love. Sometimes the gifts are so egregious that we dig ourselves into big emotional holes that take hours of conversation and several more gifts to extricate ourselves from. Others are just borderline awful.
The Gist: A common faux paux among new husbands is to give their wives house cleaning utensils as gifts. Bad idea. Double bad on the wedding anniversary. Vacuum cleaners are in vogue around Christmas and many stores even put on vacuum sales to lure unsuspecting newlyweds. The fact is that something associated with drudgery and work should never be given as a gift. Ever.
Better idea: Jeffrey Jones put together an excellent guide on “Making Housework Fun” a few years back that works great if you are trying to drop a subtle hint.
The Gist: Floss is a gift of convenience. Everyone needs it, most people don’t use it enough and it’s easy to wrap. It’s also cheap. Floss comes in many flavors and, thinks the male Christmas shopper, it might also improve the oral hygiene of the recipient making it an ideal gift. Floss is, however, like the vacuum cleaner, too obvious. It sends very subtle and undesirable messages about the smell of the recipient’s breath.
Better idea: Purchase a mirror – the more ornate, the better – that you can give instead of the floss. It will pass as an acceptable gift and could also fix the hygiene problem.
Orthodontist gift certificate
The Gist: Ever since medical professionals started handing out gift certificates for their service, I knew this would become a pitfall for Christmas shoppers. Guys, braces do not equal coffee. As the case goes, some people don’t understand that orthodontic treatment is a very private and somewhat embarrassing subject that a lot of patients are very sensitive about. It’s also very painful, irritating, and lengthy. You’d have to be strangely sadistic to give this gift to anyone who actually needed it.
Better idea: There really isn’t much you can do in one Christmas to solve your friends alignment, but you can keep it from getting worse by purchasing soft chocolates for the holiday.
The Gist: There is nothing quite as deflating as getting someone’s “used” ensemble as a gift. The subliminal messages shout “This has no value to me, so you can have it,” making it more insulting than complimentary. Some gift givers add insult to injury by giving torn up jeans or dirty underwear. Not good.
Better idea: Try getting a new item of clothing. If the recipient isn’t worth the prices at Macy’s, a gentle hug and 99¢ Christmas card will do the trick.
The Gist: For all our uninitiated readers, mascara is a goupy tar-like substance that is daubed beneath a user’s eyes to simulate depth. It is sometimes referred to under the euphemism “makeup” and is almost always used by women. Guys stuck for Christmas gift ideas who see mascara in a store might mistakenly connect “women’s product” with “gift for women.” Please don’t make that mistake. Women’s products are to be sold to women only because buying makeup is a complicated ritual that is completely impenetrable to men. It involves impetuous selections (which guys are good at), visualization of the future (which guys can manage), several minutes of indecisive wavering between several products (which guys are terrible at), and smelling (which guys simply cannot do).
Better idea: Turn around and walk quickly but inconspicuously out of the cosmetic section. Never return again.
The Gist: Mace is a good gift only if you have an uncle in the mafia or live in south Stockton. Even then it should be given only after careful consideration. The application for this gift is very narrow; avoid mascara unless you feel providence owes you a favor. Your money is better spent elsewhere. But if you decide to give mace this Christmas, do watch out that the recipient doesn’t turn the bottle around on you!
Better idea: Barnes and Nobles has a comfy collection of coffee table books on Karate and other martial arts. The pictures will be much better for your eyes, too.
One month gym membership
The Gist: Out of genuine concern for a loved one’s health, some unthinking males purchase gym memberships as gifts. With unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions just around the corner, Christmas makes a great time to spring a gym membership on some unsuspecting friend of family member. Please don’t risk losing a friend over this silly gift idea. Not only will the insinuation that they are fat bring stress to your relationship, but the recipient probably won’t even go to the gym. If they do make it out of the house, their workout efforts will be repaid by heavy yo-yoing, not health.
Better idea: Keep the house at a colder temperature to make the recipient sneeze off the pounds.