Of course you're easy to buy for....riiiiiight.

I’ve been planning for the holidays, making my list and all that jazz, and I’ve run into my usual holiday quandry–that handful of people I buy for who are impossible to buy for. For years and years, my grandfather was the top of the list, but he’s been replaced by my husband.

The big thing about these two is that if they want it, they buy it for themselves. If they don’t already have it, either they have no use for it or you can’t afford it. The few things they haven’t gotten around to buying for themselves are things that either you have no idea what it is or how to pick one out, or they’re incredibly finicky about it. And when you beg for the tiniest shred of a hint, they say one of three things: “Oh, I don’t need anything, really.” Of course they don’t need anything, they’ve already bought everything. “Oh, I’m happy with anything.” Yeah, and that’s why they shop and shop and shop before making the simplest purchases. And my personal favorite, “What on earth are you talking about? I’m very easy to buy for.” Riiiight, that’s why the entire family goes through this with you every single year. Uh-huh.

The problem with Grandpa is that he’s old and has no more hobbies or vices. He plays cards, but he already has everything he could ever hope to use for that. He and Grandma have dueling remotes for the television. He has ever device ever invented to help him win his running feud with the neighborhood squirrels. He gave up smoking pipes years and years ago. He already has maps and tourbooks of every place in the country he could ever go (he plans their vacations four months in advance and schedules the trip down to bathroom breaks) and he has no desire to leave the country. He has all sorts of computer gadgets he doesn’t know how to work, and he won’t let anybody teach him how to use them properly.

The problem with Dr.J is that he has all sorts of hobbies I don’t know anything about, and he has all sorts of obscure stuff to use for those hobbies. And anything he wants or needs for those hobbies, he goes out and gets.

I could get him music, but whenever something comes out that he’d like to have, he trots down to the store and snaps it up the day it’s released. I could get him computer games, but the first I hear about him wanting a game is when he brings it home and starts playing it.

I don’t even bother with clothes or kitchen stuff because, despite his protests to the contrary, he’s picky about that sort of stuff. I’ve watched the man spend hours shopping for sheets. Sheets, for the love of God. And he wonders why nobody wants to buy him anything major.

This year, though, I not only have to come up with my own ideas, my relatives are pumping me for ideas for him. Right now, we’re planning to all pitch in and buy him enough drugs to keep him sedated from next September to Christmas, so he can’t buy himself anything.

Do you know what stores Dr J goes to in order to procure his hobby supplies? I know gift certificates aren’t romantic, but that way he could get what he needed/wanted for said hobbies and you wouldn’t have to guess.

How 'bout a gift cert to a nice kitchen store, like Sur La Table or its like?

Dr J could always use socks, I bet. Tell all your relatives to get him socks (or something else equally practical). That way, he won’t have to buy socks (or whatever) for a year or two. Plus, he might end up with some funky or interesting ones.

As for GrandpaCatLady, I don’t know what to tell you. Usually when I have people like that, I visit craft fairs and things like that, hoping to see something that I think that person might like. You might also try browsing a local independant bookstore, if you think Grandpa likes to read. You might find a really cool book with pictures about, oh, how to rid yourself of the neighborhod squirrels. Or the history of television. One book that was a big hit with my dad (notoriously hard to shop for) was The Way Things Work by T. Lodewijk. There’s some interesting stuff in there.

Good luck!

It might sound ridiculous, but do you know of anything silly a sane person would never buy, that either of them might want?

To clarify, I am myself very hard to buy for for similar reasons. So last Christmas, my best friend bought me a pair of fluffy Eeyore ears on a headband. She knew I love Eeyore, but who’s going to buy overpriced fluff unless it’s a gift? In any case, I was utterly charmed and I still have those ears to wear when I’m feeling silly.

So, in terms of your grandfather and husband… I’m not really sure, but how about something really cool that they’d never buy for themselves - a Newton’s cradle? A coffee-table book? I second The Way Things Work, by the way.

Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, but I felt moved to say something because I’m sure my friends are having similar thoughts about me… :slight_smile:

My grandfather has every book on his limited interests ever written in the English language, and every toy and gadget ever invented. Our entire family has been resorting to such things for every Christmas, Father’s Day, and birthday for the last 25 years. The man even has a headband with reindeer antlers on it. We have delved further into the realm of silly crap than even I care to think about, and I’m the queen of silly crap.

I don’t really need suggestions, as we always think of something. I just don’t understand why people like that always insist that they’re easy to buy for. It makes me think of Shirley McLaine screaming, “Dammit, I am pleasant! Just last week I saw Drum Eatonton down at the Piggly Wiggly, and I smiled at the sonofabitch before I could stop myself!”

Why can’t they just admit that they’re horrible to shop for and be done with it?

We can’t admit we’re horrible to shop for,CCL because we really honestly don’t think we are.

I’ve been hearing the last few years from various friends and relatives that I fall into that dreaded category, and it blows my mind.

Simple rule: if they have everything they want - buy them something they NEED. Your grandfather buys groceries - get him a gift card at his favorite store.

However, you must remember that we all need personal mementos of our loved ones! Perhaps a picture frame with your family that has a recorded message to him? I shop at personalcreations.com quite often. Another idea would be to create a framed posterboard of all your family’s memories and hopes for him, with pictures.

My whole family is like that, including me. We simply chucked the whole “gift” thing years ago. We give each other amusing cards on birthdays, but that’s it.

Maybe you could just announce, “Okay, shopping for gifts is a hassle for everybody. Stop buying them for me, and I’ll stop buying them for you.”

Might work better if done a month before YOUR birthday, rather than one of theirs.

For GrandpaCatLady, put together a gift basket of travel sized items that he can take when he goes on his vacations. Add a small first-aid kit, some survivalist-type good-for-a-long-time foodstuffs for if the car breaks down in East Nowheresville, and a couple of nifty canteens, or a case of bottled water.

For the spouse, buy a nice sheer black lace anything in your size, and promise to fill it up at least once a week.

Then make them find gifts for each other. Nobody thinks they’re hard to shop for, until they encounter the same problem.

I’m horrible to shop for. Everything I want is impossible, expensive or illegal.

I got this far and thought, “that’s even worse than the other ideas - the man works as a doctor in a frickin’ hospital. Can’t get better access to drugs than that.”

Then I finished off the thought:

That might have possibilities. Except then he couldn’t tell you what he would have run out and bought for himself, either.

My stepfather drives my mother nuts in the same way, btw: he wants it, he buys it. There’s almost never a pause between his awareness that he needs X and his going to the store, or ordering it over the Web.
If anyone’s reading this who is in the “everyone thinks I’m hard to buy for” category, here’s what you do: between Halloween and Christmas, don’t buy stuff for yourself. I’m not talking about necessities like toothpaste and toilet paper; I’m talking about stuff that interests you, like that new book or CD or computer game or whatever. Instead, you add it to your Christmas list, so you can tell your loved ones what you want when they ask.

Then if it isn’t under the tree on December 25, you order it the next day. It may mean a little bit of delayed gratification for you, but it will make your loved ones happy. And that’s a Good Thing.

Successfully shopping for Qadgop involves forbidding him from buying anything that he wants in the month before the gift-giving occasion and making him tell us what it is that he’d buy if we let him. That’s what we get him.

How on earth can someone not realize they’re hard to shop for? I mean, when you buy yourself all the gadgets and toys and clothes and accessories you want, what’s left for anyone to buy you? The stuff that it takes you hours and hours to pick out for yourself? If it’s that hard for you to pick it out, how is anybody else supposed to pick it out for you?

What really kills me, though, is Dr.J’s insistence that I’m hard to buy for. Every year I mention all sorts of stuff I’d really like to have. He never gets me any of these things. There are tons of other things I’d like to have but am too cheap or too lazy to buy for myself, and if you can’t come up with any of those things there’s always chocolate, dog toys, and power tools.

Thanks for the suggestions, ThatDDPerson, but Grandma no longer allows Grandpa to plan car trips. Ever since the year they got behind schedule and he wanted to drive past the Grand Canyon while she took pictures out the window, she has ahem strongly encouraged flying or taking the train. He still keeps all that stuff in the car anyway, though, just in case he gets stranded on the other side of town. And to be perfectly honest, I think Dr.J would just as soon have a new set of basting brushes. It’s a nice thought, though.

Ahh, take me out of their category then, CCL. I detest shopping, so that’s not the issue.

Spurred by this thread, I asked a neutral party today if I am indeed hard to shop for. She agreed wholeheartedly that I was. Sorta like the hobby stuff you mentioned earlier, all the thing’s she knows I’m into she feels unqualified to shop for.

Ah well, perhaps I’ll get some useful gift certificates this year.