Readers had an interesting discussion months ago about the two main kinds of gift-giving styles (asker vs. guesser) — and commenters have also been talking about long-term partner gifts as well as family gifts. Let’s discuss…
What’s Your Gift-Giving Style, Asker or Guesser?
Readers were discussing (here and here) a MetaFilter thread about the two kinds of people around gifts: people who prefer to ASK what you want, versus the people who prefer to GUESS what you want. One commenter noted that it was even a difference in the etiquette around gift-giving in her family — her husband’s family considered it rude to ask what people want (or to ask for what YOU want).
For my own $.02, my family is definitely ASKERS, while my husband’s family is mostly guessers. My mother will give my kids toy catalogs to look through and pick out things, while their other grandma (my MIL) will just guess what things they’re going to love. (We’ve had hits with both methods, but we still have way too many toys… enough that I don’t tend to get a lot for my kids for the holidays.)
What’s Your Family Approach to Gift-Giving?
Another big question that’s been circulating among the commenters lately: What is your family approach to gift-giving? If you’re partnered, what do you get your partner for the holidays? (Has it changed as the years have gone on?) How has gift-giving changed from childhood to adulthood with your parents and siblings?
My husband and I (married since 2009) have, like many long-married couples, generally stopped giving each other gifts. We’re privileged enough to generally be able to buy what we want when we want it, unless it’s a really big ticket item. So we tend to set money aside for bigger projects (vacation, big house-related fun expense), although I sometimes come up with a list of 5–10 things I wouldn’t mind getting from jewelry stores or Poshmark and then he can pick something.
I’m a bit embarrassed to say that my parents still get my brother and me a lot of gifts — and it just doesn’t make sense since all four of us just buy whatever we want when we see it. (My parents in particular are impossible to buy for!) For several years now I’ve decided in my head that we should just do a Secret Santa gift exchange (where we all pull names out of a hat and just get ONE gift), but I never seem to remember until early December, when my mother is already well into her gift-buying process. (NEXT YEAR, I swear.) Another version of this: doing a jokey white elephant gift exchange.
Bonus Question: How Are You Keeping Track of All the Gifts You’re Buying?
I’ve seen a lot on social media lately about people making fun of themselves for not being able to keep track of what the heck they bought on Black Friday — um, YES, me!
Some of the stuff I’ve moved into a special email folder to help keep track of everything. But I’m starting to wonder if I need a chart to fill out every year to keep general track of what I’m getting for whom, where I am in my progress, and more.
When I was a kid I suspect my mom kept detailed lists, because she wanted my gifts and my brother’s gifts to be an equal amount (and stay within a budget). She even went so far as to number each gift so she could consult a list to stop me from opening a particular gift before another — ideally, she wanted me to open the Cabbage Patch Kid before I got the accessories for the Cabbage Patch Kid, for example.
I am nowhere NEAR that organized — in part because the grandmas’ gifts are so many, but also just because I’m, um, not that organized.
I’ve literally just started a template in Word to keep track of things that currently just has 12 different iterations of this (one for everyone I’m getting gifts for):
[OLDER SON'S NAME] Present ideas: 2021: Stocking ideas: 2021:
And I’ll go through and fill out stocking ideas and present ideas and then what I’m getting. I’m cursed with wanting to make it prettier (I think this would be a great app! Oooh or maybe a form in Google Forms) but I haven’t had a chance to get beyond those basic ideas.
Readers, over to you — are you an asker or a guesser when it comes to gifts? How do you and your partner deal with gifts between each other? How has family gift giving changed from childhood to adulthood?
Stock photo (woman holding out a wrapped gift) via Stencil.