Real Life Ranch Wife

Holiday Gift Giving

My husband and I have very different ideas on what constitutes an appropriate holiday gift for each other.

Why is it so difficult?

My husband and I share our last name, a home and three kids, but we have very different ideas on what constitutes an appropriate gift for each other. One year, he gave me a pair of work gloves and a union suit. I couldn’t even act surprised; I just asked for the receipt.

We’re an equal opportunity household when it comes to placing questionable gifts under the Christmas tree. I’ve given Jim notebooks he doesn’t write in, shirts with too-short sleeves and something called “Bleed Stopper” that I thought looked handy for treating cuts on the go but never made it out of the package. Apparently, he’s the kind of guy who would rather bleed than acknowledge any sign of vulnerability by treating an injury.

Here are some other odd choices for Christmas presents:

Wackiest gifts ever

I hate to label these as the “worst” gifts, because if someone selects, purchases, wraps and presents me with a gift, I’m touched by the thought. Seriously. But, my dad once gave me a secondhand belt that I’d previously donated to the thrift store. I recognized it because the buckle was scratched. Also, I didn’t want it anymore, hence the donation.

A friend of mine once gave her daughter a math book. Back in the ’90s, we gave a family friend a Blockbuster movie they had to return in a few days. I’ve cut up store-bought brownies, placed them on a paper plate, covered them in plastic wrap and passed them off as homemade just to see if I could. Oh, come on — you’ve done it, too. Or you’re going to start this year.

Now that you feel better about your own gift-giving abilities, here’s what I’ve learned from a checkered past of hit-and-miss gift giving:

Make a list

Perhaps most importantly, remember to make a list of a few items within the agreed-upon budget. If choosing the perfect gift with no hints from your spouse proved you really loved them, then I have failed at marriage. But I’m good at other things, like learning from the past, so I make a list and purchase something that Jim specifically told me he wanted. He’s grateful for more silver buckles and fewer too-small shirts.

Stick to the list

When buying gifts for your significant other, only purchase things that he or she specifically asks for. If he asks for a set of Ty Barton bulldog taps, don’t get him a flannel shirt that looks like nothing in his closet because you think it might be good for him to branch out and try new things. The man wants what he wants, not what you want him to want.

If she wants a pasta-making attachment for her KitchenAid stand mixer, don’t get her a new rope that is the exact length and lay that you prefer. We all know where this is going, and it’s not under the rope strap on her saddle. Also, it won’t make pasta.

I haven’t gotten another pair of long-handled red underwear, so it looks like the system is working.

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