What do you buy (them) every year?

So, I was out getting my yearly gift cert for a case of beer, that I gift to my niece’s husband. I don’t really know the guy, he’s kind of withdrawn, but by all accounts a great husband, and father. My focus more naturally falls to his wife and beautiful kids. He seems a little uncomfortable socially.

So our relationship somewhat turns on this gift cert. He likes his beer. And I’m certain he enjoys this gift. Every year. I like that it’s so easy and apt both.

That got me to wondering about the gifts you might buy EVERY year, for someone on your list.

What is it and who’s it for?

Every year my husband gets a bottle of single malt whiskey for Christmas, and smoked oysters and post-it notes in his stocking (among other things). For years my dad also got whiskey, and a pack of three Moleskine mini-journals. This year my parents aren’t traveling so those gifts are out the window.

I always put a handful of Lindor truffles in the bottom of each stocking. My mother started that when I was a kid.

mrAru and I have both wooden shoes and stockings - and they always get filled with the same stuff - an orange, a couple of the large candy canes, 2 or 3 small toys [the kind in Japan they put in the machines, can’t remember offhand what they are called] a $50 grocery store gift card, a McDonalds gift card [used to be a gift certificate booklet but that morphed over the years into a card] and a beenie baby [we have a pair that get swapped back and forth every year. This year it is my turn to get Chocolate the Moose and he gets Waddle the Penguin =)] We also get other presents - he is also getting a mug that has a Cthluhu in bathrobe and slippers with a mug of coffee saying ‘you woke the wrong god’ and a submariner oriented tshirt [i am a submariner, i am only afraid of god and my wife, and you are neither] and I am getting a calvin and hobbes tshirt that is based on van gogh’s starry night. We are also splitting the cost of a 25th anniversary cruise in Feb to the Bahamas.

Until my brother died, I always got him a DVD boxed set off his wish list and a membership in Netflix, and he always got me Amazon Prime and Netflix. My Father in Law always gets us some sort of California based food, he picks stuff up at the various food festivals [I adored the date festival stuff from a few years back - the fresh that year huge dates [the ones that you can’t get on the east coast] that had some filled with almond paste [plain and chile/lime almond paste] and some rolled in chile/lime without the almond paste, the plain unpitted ones and a block of date sugar for cooking with [he knows I mess around with medieval Persian cooking and some of the recipes call for date sugar] and the little medicinal ones [um, jujubes, tiny red dates used in traditional Chinese medicine and cooking] I can’t wait to see what festivals he hit this year =)

My brother gets a selection of foods and beverages I know he likes but doesn’t buy for himself very often. There’s some variation from year to year but it’s mostly the same stuff every year.

Every year my brother’s family gets me an Amazon gift card. They know I use Prime (my nephews’ and niece’s presents are usually through Amazon), and they know I read a lot but don’t expect them to keep up with what I’m reading. I originally pointed them toward my Amazon gift list, but the gift card is great by me - it’s at least one useful gift I know I’ll enjoy each year.

I get my sister and her family a membership to the San Diego Zoo…and also I’ve been getting them old National Geographic back issues. I’m all the way back to 1951!

They know exactly what’s coming…and love it!

Most years my brother buys me the current version of the tax preparation software I usually use. And I have a friend who normally drives older cars that he maintains himself, and which aren’t always very reliable. So his mother’s regular Christmas gift to him was a AAA gold membership (the regular AAA membership includes towing for up to five miles but the gold membership extends that to a hundred miles).

My wife gets (among other things) a $15 Google Play card. For a brief shining moment she can allow herself to buy the extra turns or other in-app game purchases she otherwise knows better than to waste money on.

For several years my mother was getting a copy of Consumer Reports. This year, she told me I could cancel it as she didn’t have much time to read them and they were starting to pile up. Of course, she told me three days after the automatic renewal.


Seriously, nothing. My wife and I don’t buy or exchange presents with our close families at all, nor for each other, not at Christmas, not on birthdays, not on anniversaries, certainly not Valentines day.

Our kids get presents at Christmas but not huge amounts and the only tradition we have is that they always get a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

I don’t like getting presents. Very, very rarely are they anything I want and if it was it would be because I’ve told the person what I want. I don’t see the point for adults. I can buy exactly what I want whenever I want and I don’t have that horrible, hanging obligation to buy a load crap for someone just because they buy a load of crap for me.

Kids? fine. They’ve got nothing and no independent means of buying it and their lives aren’t jammed up with useless crap from previous gifting sessions.

Not every year, but when in doubt, the present to my mother is Another Book on Modernisme/Art Decó.

Every year, she gets a calendar with weekly view, DIN A4 or A5 but not smaller. It is known as The Menus Book.

My dad always got ties and handkerchiefs when he was working. My grandfather always got Old Spice and a bottle of whatever his favorite whiskey was (Mom had to buy it, since we were way underage.) My grandmother always got a new apron.

But all of them are gone now and we’ve all but quit exchanging gifts. For several years, I’d get my mom an assortment of wines, but this year, we’re getting her a large screen for her computer. It’s not a surprise - we told her we’ll take her shopping for one after the holidays and we’ll take her to lunch at the same time, then hook it up for her.

Mom always gives all of her offspring and grandkids a check - the only surprise is the amount, and that depends on how her investments did over the year. No clue what we’ll get this year.

My brother, sis-in-law, niece and nephews all get Barnes and Noble gift cards. When they were all in the same house, they would go out the Monday-Tuesday after Xmas and lay waste to the nearest B&N store with those cards.

In point of fact, I’ll be heading out in a couple of hours to buy them for this year.

Every year I give boxes of home-canned goodies to a list of about 20 people. I alternate between sweet and savory – this year it’s savory, so everyone is getting 2 pint jars of pickles. I do this mostly for me – I think Christmas should include some homemade presents.

For the past several years I’ve given my husband (among other gifts) a set of presidential coins from the US Mint. This is the last year for them. Although they call them Presidential Coin Sets, they apparently mean “Dead President Coin Sets” since there are only 3 in the set in this year (there had been 4) and Carter isn’t included.

Every year I buy my wife a Staples wall calendar, which she uses to keep track of the family’s schedule. We have a pair of hooks permanently screwed into the wall of the kitchen for this calendar, because the holes at the top of the Staples calendar are thankfully consistent from year to year.

Every year she gets me the Dilbert day-by-day calendar, and the World Almanac. And every year for Father’s Day, she puts together a picture calendar of the past year’s family pictures, a true labor of love.

Law prohibits living people from being on US currency so as to prevent the whole “I’m the king, put my picture on all the money” thing from happening.

My kids get new pajamas. They are all in their 20’s now and I don’t think there has ever been a year without new pajamas, to be opened on Christmas Eve.

When I was a kid, it was easiest to buy Dad a bottle of classy Aqua Velva. For maybe three years on a row. But I’ve moved on.

I live in a gift giving paradise.

My wife is a chocolatier, I mean like she could do this for a living chocolatier. So I never have to come up with a gift for anybody. We would be lynched if we didn’t give everyone her chocolates. So my gift is chocolates and who it’s for is bloody everybody.


For many years (over a decade) we get the nieces and nephew (there are 7) gas cards. They seem to like them. One niece now lives in SF, has no car or DL. She gets a BART card (farecard for the SF mass transit subway system).

We usually get tickets to a live theater show every year. Its not something we would do ourselves.