I’ve been lured into a false sense of security. Black Friday was the appetizer to Cyber Monday’s feast, and by the end of November I was rocking an entirely new wardrobe while crossing my fingers that there was enough left over for rent. As I rolled around in a pile of denim and cashmere, I had no way of knowing December was planning to strike. Now, a mere two weeks into the holiday season, I’ve seen the error of my ways—and ladies, it isn’t looking good.
The perfect time for purchasing presents has passed us by and the list of people who expect a gift under the tree is growing by the day. Another tie for dad? Too cliche. A pair of slippers for mom? She got new ones last year. Secret Santa names have been drawn and pre-celebration jitters won’t help you think of a gift that will put everyone else’s to shame, but if it’s any consolation, you’re in good company. Help me help you, and maybe we’ll get through this together.
Everyone’s mom is different—duh—but they all have one thing that got them through our rebellious teenage years. For some it was chocolate and for others it was wine (indulgence comes in many forms, who are we to judge?) and signing her up for a by-the-month subscription box is the gift that keeps giving—literally. Every time a package shows up at the door with an exotic cheese bundled inside, she’ll think of you and smile. Expect a call after each delivery gushing over how thoughtful your present was. You’re welcome.
Dads always have the same sort of loafer-wearing, golf-watching energy that lends itself to grilling. Even the dad that burns cereal somehow has the ability to wield a spatula and look out over the neighborhood as he proudly flips a burger—or attempts to. Give yours the gift of champion-worthy tools no matter their skill level and reap the rewards of grilled meat until your mom says enough is enough.
If your friends are anything like mine there’s an agreed-upon limit to how much cash you’re allowed to drop on a present. If not, good luck—that’s a lifestyle I don’t (read: can’t) subscribe to. The best way to ensure success is to hunt down various small gifts that show how much you care rather than going for broke on one big item. Sincerity doesn’t have a price tag, and some of my favorite presents have fallen well below the $20 mark, but if all else fails, be funny. Playing cards with embarrassing photos of your friends on them should do the trick.
White Elephant parties are the drunk uncle to Secret Santa parties, and by the same comparison, they are way, way more fun. There’s no pressure to prove your undying friendship when the whole point is to get the funniest, most ridiculous gift possible, so let your freak flag fly. A Flavertown t-shirt with Guy Fieri’s face on it? Incredible. A gigantic beach ball that could take out a small child if the wind blows too hard? Perfect. A 3-pack of lawn flamingos? Sign me up. See? No pressure, no rules, and, most importantly, no disappointed friend sulking in the corner over a charm bracelet.
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