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Posts tagged ‘bad gifts’

the gravy boat

This Thanksgiving and every other, I’m grateful for my husband, who makes me laugh every day.

Three months after I met my husband, he gave me a diamond necklace. When Tom wants something, he wants it bad, and at that particular moment in time, he wanted me. I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m telling you this at the outset to give you some background, and also because Tom demanded that I write something to mitigate the implication that runs throughout the remainder of this post, which is 1) that he is cheap, and 2) that he has terrible taste. Neither of these is true, but you’d never know it from some of the gifts he’s gotten me over the years.

Guys, I humbly suggest that you at least skim the rest of this post before you hit the mall for your lady’s gift this holiday season. Ladies, please consider this post a PSA on your behalf.

1. Clothing

My husband once walked by a Talbots window and suggested, helpfully, that I shop there. I know Talbots has recently sort of re-branded itself as Ann Taylor, but back then, they sold clothing that you might see on Hillary Clinton during a speech to delegates at the United Nations. Pantsuits, navy blazers with non-ironic gold buttons, sweater sets, the occasional tartan.

My suspicion that Tom wanted me to start dressing more like a genteel sixty-year old was confirmed when he gifted me a shirt from his favorite store, Thomas Pink. Thomas Pink is a UK clothier that is best known for its dress shirts for men. Anyway, I don’t have the shirt anymore, but it looked almost identical to this:

It’s a nice shirt. It’s got stripes, which I like. It’s got the spiffy cuffs, which you can personalize with the pair of ladies’ cufflinks that you don’t own. The problem is, it’s just not me. If there’s anything that you want to express with your gift, it’s the sense that you know your lady, that you understand her, that you get her essence.

In this instance, I actually was quite touched because I was starting out as a brand new lawyer and I think Tom thought this shirt looked lawyerly. But generally, I skew a little less Fox & Friends in my work wear. Good intentions aside, unless you know her favorite store AND that store only sells one item, it’s best to steer clear of clothing.

2. Kitchen stuff

If your wife ever mentions that she could use a gravy boat, try to tuck that info away in your brain and remember it the next time you are out and happen to see a gravy boat. And then, buy the gravy boat, and present it to her in an offhand fashion that underscores your casual thoughtfulness, like so: “Oh hey babes, while I was out for some milk I picked up this gravy boat…you said you wanted one, right?”

What you don’t want to do is what my husband did–buy the gravy boat one year as her sole Christmas gift.

my gravy boat

This is the gravy boat I got for Christmas in 2002. It’s a simple, classic Fiestaware number, and also happens to retail for about $24.99 during a sale. Did I mention that this was all I got for Christmas in 2002? To add insult to injury, he wrapped it himself, without a box, so that when he presented it to me, it looked approximately like this:


Lest you think I am exaggerating, let me assure you that my memory never fails me when it comes to traumatic events.

Besides being spectacularly unromantic, the inherent problem with gifting a woman with a kitchen item is that it is difficult to do so without the implication that she should be using the item to cook you something. For the woman who cooks, kitchen items can be great stocking stuffers (try wooden spoons, cookie cutters, or spatulas). And there is the rare situation where the lady has long desired a big ticket item like a stand mixer or a Vitamix, in which case, the sheer expense of the item creates its own measure of goodwill. But by and large, a kitchen item is not going to be her favorite gift this Christmas. You can do better.

3. Lingerie

I realize lingerie is technically clothing, but lingerie is deserving of special mention in this post, because things can go very bad very quickly, when we’re talking about gifting underwear. You may have a wife or girlfriend who has said that she would love to receive lingerie from you, but the odds are really good that she’s lying, misguided, or both. From a theoretical standpoint, buying lingerie for a woman implies that you find her existing underwear choices deficient, and who needs that? Imagine if your wife gifted you a bottle of Rogaine, or a book titled “How to Fix Things Around the House Like a Real Man.” That doesn’t feel sexy, now does it?

don't these look fun

From a practical standpoint, the lingerie that appeals to you in the store is undoubtedly not fit for human wear. Don’t believe me? Let’s examine this sassy little number above, which Tom got me approximately six years ago. I only keep these around because they make me laugh. Be assured that I have never worn them, because they 1) are made of polyester, 2) have a butt ruffle, and 3) are not my size. Polyester is scratchy and doesn’t breathe. Enough said. As for the butt ruffle, the average woman needs a butt ruffle like you need an extra testicle. Every time I see these, I wonder, why would I want to make my butt look bigger? Why would HE want to make my butt look bigger? I am totally mystified.

The worst thing, however, is that this underwear is too large for me by half. And therein lies the biggest problem with buying lingerie as a gift: sizing. If you buy too big, you are screwed. If you buy too small (especially a bra), you are screwed. Save yourself the aggravation. Don’t buy her lingerie.

Guys, if I’ve written this post correctly, you are now frustrated and feeling hopeless about your gift-giving prospects this year. Don’t despair. I have a few ideas, and I’ll soon be posting about them. Ladies, do I have it wrong? Do you love getting kitchen stuff and lingerie? And what’s the worst gift you’ve ever gotten?