How to buy for your _________

Whoever said “it’s always better to give than to receive” has clearly never had to buy a gift for their wealthy, divorcée aunt, twice-removed that only comes down once every two years to pinch your cheeks, drink your wine and pet your cats. Let’s face it, while giving can be great for friends, family and lovers, sometimes there are just awkward relationships that make gift-giving a nightmare. Luckily for you, I’ve prepared a guide on how to navigate some of these complex, materialistic social situations.

In-Laws:
As nice or welcoming as your “in-laws” or boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s parents might be, there’s no task more difficult than trying to buy them a Christmas present. You can either go for the (cowardly) gift for “the both of them”, which is a safe move that will leave them both reasonably disappointed, yet not wondering what their daughter ‘sees in you’. Or, you could try to buy them individual gifts, and show them how much you’ve gotten to know them over the days/months/years. Well, let’s face it, you’re gonna get the father a neutral pattern tie and the mother a Starbucks mug and some tea, so why mess with a solid plan?

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Grandmother/ Grandfather:
They’ve got everything, they’ve experienced everything and they don’t want you peddling your millennial garbage to them in a preachy self-righteous way. You could give them an Apple TV or an iPad and do your best to explain “no, this is actually really easy to use!”, but in the end, it’ll either become a decadently expensive paper weight or a re-gift that they’ll mistakenly give back to you for your birthday. Peanut brittle and a gift card to Swiss Chalet is, remarkably, the only way to safely navigate this obstacle.

That cousin that never speaks:
They’ve come to every family function since you were a kid, but most of the time they blended in too well with the wallpaper for you to notice. But, now it’s time for you to get them a gift. Do they have hobbies? Interests? Where do they work again? — either way, at this point, it’s too late to ask. When you’re buying their gift, just remember that the more generic it is, the more likely they won’t hate you afterwards. Chocolate, gift certificates, or maybe even a flask to help them get through the next family function.

The office-mate secret Santa that you don’t know very well:
So, it came time to draw names for the office Secret Santa, and the cute girl at the desk next to your’s didn’t come up. Instead, you got the new guy that smells a bit like cheddar and sadness. You haven’t said more than a few words to each other before — and you don’t want a present so good that he’ll feel inclined to talk to you again — in this case, a nice mug will send him the desired message that: “I am paid to work in a communal space in which you are also paid to be situated”. Nothing quite like a gift from the heart, right?

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