Judging by the numerous lumps of coal you received last Christmas, it would seem that your family and friends are trying to tell you one of two things: 1) your house isn't warm enough, or 2) the gifts you've been giving them on their birthdays and holidays royally suck. We think the latter explanation is more plausible. Unless, of course, your house really is freezing and you own a fireplace - then coal would be a very thoughtful present.

Well, take comfort in the fact that at least we don't blame you for your appalling gift-giving habits. While it may be true that you really are tasteless, thoughtless, and cheap, it's more likely that you merely clueless and need some help in picking out the perfect gifts for your family and friends. That is why we've whipped up this SYW for you. It's a guide on how to shop, what to buy, and what not to buy. Consider it our gift to you, dear reader.


It's easy to just run out and buy one of those hideous foil-balloons-on-a-stick-attached-to-a-container-of-stale-candy gifts. But the whole point of gift giving is to show that you care, so if it's obvious that you haven't put any thought into the gift at all, there's no point in giving it.

"So how do I find out what these people want?" you whine. Simmer down and consider the following tactics:

  1. Listen to the recipient. The next time you and the recipient are watching TV together, make a note of all the things he/she gets excited about during commercials. Or pay attention when you guys are window-shopping together, or even when you're just chatting. People are always unconsciously rambling about stuff they want, and if you make it a point to listen closely, your job of finding out what he/she would like will be greatly simplified.

  2. Ask someone close to the recipient. If you're not usually around to listen to the recipient babble about the stuff he/she wants, call up someone who is and ask for a detailed list. Perhaps his/her best friend, or a sibling or parent. They can usually lead you at least in the right direction.

  3. Ask the recipient. OK, so you've never been one to beat around the bush. That's fine - some people don't mind if you directly ask them what they'd like for a present. But don't be a jerk about it if they refuse to answer - ask only if you think the recipient will be comfortable about responding.

And don't forget: those who claim that they "will love anything you get them" or "only want your company" or "don't want anything" are LYING TO YOUR FACE. Don't fall for that pathetic ruse. Get them what you know they want through your research, be it an omelet pan or French comprehensive tapes, and they'll love you for it.