I’m rubbish at presents.
Seriously. You shouldn’t be surprised if you end up with a block of wood with two hooks and a picture of two flourescent but rurally stylised birds on it. Or a jar of chutney. Or an incredible hulk alarm clock.
These are all real things I have gotten for people recently. It’s worth noting that the chutney was for a one year old and the alarm clock was for a 30 something.
If I fancy you, you’re most likely getting a mix tape. These are always brilliant, but the covers look like they’ve been drawn by an overenthusiastic but lazy seven year old. That’s because I’ve done it myself, and I can only ever find felt tip pens.
The music will be hot shit though, carefully selected and put in an order that both tells a story and flows naturally despite the broad range of genres and influences it covers. The main problem is you’re likely to get at least one of my favourite love songs, and potentially all three. Depending on how comfortable I am with fancying you, and how paranoid I am about being creepy.
Using a sort of inverted logical process, I can guess that if these presents are rubbish, then the important thing is something specific and well thought out. Tailored but not sleazy. Carefully considered and sensitive. Ideally fulfilling a useful use, in an attractive and memorable way.
Technically, that’s roughly what I’m aiming for. But I end up just spotting something pretty and odd and vaguely harmonised with something of my sense of someone, and then spending money before I think through how they’d actually react to it.
They usually react with a bemused alarm. Confusedly marrying the concept that ‘it’s the thought that counts’ and a demonstration of the notion that it is impossible to know what another person is thinking. I prove my mind inscrutable.
The best presents, I think, are the hardest to get. I think art is the gift de resistance. A piece of art can be looked at and pondered and layered over and repeated and analysed and enjoyed in a thousand different ways for at least a thousand years.
Assuming you manage to pick something they like. And that’s a risky business. Especially as if you get it wrong, and they feel politely obliged to store it somewhere prominent so as not to offend, you will be repeatedly reminding them of your failure at least until they move house.
They may end up moving to flee your dreadful taste. Stop it glaring at them, day in day out, for infinity.
So don’t get art, you idiot. That could go hideously wrong.
Get them something hand made and forgettable. Or practical and insensitive. Or buy them something you secretly want yourself, but can’t justify buying. Don’t steal it off them afterwards though. You’ll feel guilty forever.
Just don’t get them anything advertised on television around a family oriented holiday.
That’s my only useful tip.
Illustration by Emma.