How much guidance do you want on gifts?

This was the first year I gave, by her request, my sister a list of the things I wanted for Christmas. When you give gifts for Christmas or birthday, do you prefer to be given an actual list of stuff to buy or not? Is it acceptable as an adult but not as a child? Which way is more fun?

I’ve always preferred both to be given lists and to give them out. I hate guessing. And in fact my entire family always did things that way; everyone exchanged lists, and cross-checked with each other to make sure no one was buying duplicate gifts.

I’d druther it be about buying something you think the other person would like, whether they have thought about it themselves or not. The best gift in my opinion is the thing the person didn’t know they wanted. It’s a testament to how well you know the person you’re buying for, and that’s what gives it meaning to me.

I have no interest in buying my 10-year-old cousins the latest DS games on their list. I want to give them a new interest, or at least encourage a current interest other than mindless leisure.

I agree that this is a touchy subject. On the one hand, you don’t want to buy something out of the blue; they probably won’t like it, which means that you wasted both your money and their time (and their gift receiving opportunity).

On the other hand, buying off a list just makes you a personal shopping assistant, going out to pick up what they specified. And if they did the same for you, all you did was exchange shopping duties with each other.

The solution to the dilemma, in my mind, is the “vague list,” where you each specify the *type *of thing you want, but without specifics. That gives the gift-buyer the opportunity to imprint their own special talent on finding ways to satisfy the needs of the gift-receiver, but without the risk of getting something of no interest. For example, I like to specify things like “movie-related books” or “Lord of the Rings related paraphernalia” which lets my gift-buyers exercise their creativity while limiting the chances that I won’t like the results.

Give me a list, 100% of the time. Either that, or get Rush DVD’s for Christmas.

I think prescriptive gift giving spoils the fun of gifting. So I don’t like guidance, nor do I like giving it. Honestly, if you’re not close enough to me to know what I like, then don’t feel obligated to buy me a gift.

List? What makes you think I was gonna get you something??

Well, I’d prefer to get a URL to a product page, but I usually get some line about how the recipient has no idea what they’d like, but is sure to love whatever it is.

I’d prefer to give people URLs too, but hardly ever do. So I receive dispensers for items I never use, books I’ve already read, and gift cards to places I would never consider patronizing. Yet, occasionally I get something I really love. So that makes it all OK! :dubious:

I will not give you a list, and if you give me one I won’t use it. I mean, I won’t be too hardass about it. If you say, “Hey, I was thinking about getting you something guitar/cooking/whatever related. Is there anything you need?” that’s one thing. If you say, “What do you want?” that’s another.

It may not be your intent, but if you ask me for a list I’ll take it as “I don’t want to put any effort into this.” and I believe that people give out lists because people don’t put any effort into what they buy as gifts. I can understand that. For me, there’s just a world of difference between getting/giving a thoughtful gift, and buying something to buy something.

My fiance and I make a list, but often end up buying each other gifts that weren’t on each other’s lists. It can be a good starting point, and also a good indication of the type of gift I want (i.e., do I want clothes, movies, kitchen appliances, etc.). Of course, I would not mind at all if all the items he bought me were off of that list, either, but sometimes he comes up with really nice gift ideas that would never have even occurred to me, so it’s nice that he doesn’t feel limited to those items.

If you prefer lists, just go buy your own stuff and let the others buy their stuff to make sure everyone spends what they like and get what they want.

I hate lists.

It depends on circumstances. If I have a good idea, I prefer to use that rather than buying something off a list. But if I don’t have a good idea, I’d rather somebody told me what they wanted rather than me trying to come up with something.

I like lists

I’d be grateful for some guidance. Buying for my sons is easy: one still lives at home and I just pick up the cues; the other has just bought a house and is into photography so buying presents for him is a dream.

I have one friend, though, who is The World’s Hardest Person to Buy For. I listen in all year, hanging off her every word, trying to pick up on something which would be enjoyed, appreciated, appropriate etc. I’m already trying to work out what I’ll get her for Christmas 2014.

Studies show that people thing the most thoughtful gifts are the ones they told you to get. I even experienced it first hand this Christmas, when my mom found something I had explicitly told her about but didn’t expect she’d have time to get.

I’m also not entirely sure why the feelings of the person giving the gift is relevant. If you will find yourself not wanting to give someone a gift because they told you some things that they want, then were you getting gifts to make them happy or just to feel good about yourself?

I like a mix. My family members would rather get me a book they know I’d like than a bookstore gift certificate, but they can’t keep up with my reading (and, in all honesty, don’t understand my reading taste). On the other hand, if my nephew wants to get me some music because he really likes it, I’ll enjoy that as well (even if it’s Nickelback).

Point at the thing you want, pick it up and carry it to the register, I’ll step in when the clerk asks for a credit card.

My wife loves shopping. Shop for herself = good, buying for others too=even better. I hate shopping and have zero experience with women’s clothes (other than trying to get them off women). So, Christmas is the time of year when she gets to cut loss with the thing she loves and I am required to do the thing I hate. It’s is hardly fair to hold bother of us to the same standard of “it’s the thought that counts.”

And the person. In the seven years they courted, I met my brother’s bride less than a dozen times (they would always get together in her home town, not ours), after the wedding we’d be lucky to lay eyes on them once a month, he’s subdued himself under her as much as he’s been able to (don’t ask me how that works, all I know is Mom pulled the same shit) and she’s a control freak. We requested a “letter to Santa”… and it turned out she couldn’t write letters to Santa for shit (she’d asked for “black gloves”; she wanted a very-specific pair from a very-specific store, which according to the store’s owner had lasted all of half an hour on their window). Things have gotten better over time but it’s taken years and two kids.

OTOH, the other brother and me can always find something the other one will like. It may be big or small, but it’s always personal. My presents to The Nephews somehow always end up being the ones that get picked over the bigger, shinier stuff. Married-bro’s opinion and chances to pick something right for the rest of us are linked to his wife’s; when Mom hits she scores a bull’s eye but when she doesn’t she missed by miles - and she always gives a list (it’s not required but it’s prioritized and gives an idea of what kind of stuff she needs or wants).

That’s my preferred level of guidance, both giving and receiving. Even my Amazon list is, by and large, merely an indication of the general sort of stuff I’d like. There are occasionally things I’ve picked out a specific model and nothing else will do because nothing else will fit the system it’s meant to be expanding, but generally if you want to get me a different book about composting or ice cream making, or you find a great deal on a different floor steamer, I’m all for it.

Hell, if you want to get me something not at all related to anything on the list, I’m generally all for that, too. Provided you’ve given some thought to how the item will fit into my life. One of my uncles, Og love him, got me a bento box this year. It’s a terribly nice one, too…except I’m not working or going to school, so my need to pack a lunch is pretty well nonexistant.

Personally, I’d rather know what you don’t like or don’t want. That way, I can eliminate the stuff I know you’ll hate and put my energies into finding something I think you’ll like. I don’t want someone to have to pretend to like a gift that really doesn’t work for his/her lifestyle.