The holiday season is upon us (and has been at some retailers since September when I saw the first Christmas displays going up). I both adore and loathe the holidays (but that is another post), but the single biggest hurdle I face every year is the question of gifts: what to give, how much to spend, when to buy. Over time, I’ve noticed that there are several different types of gift givers and receivers. It may help to recognize which type you are dealing with so you can select an appropriate gift or adjust your expectations about what you will receive. Keep in mind that a person can be one type of receiver and a different type of giver. In fact, my husband is an Itemizer when it comes to receiving gifts, but he is a Listenerwhen it comes to giving gifts.
- The Pragmatic. This type of person does not waste money on frivolous items. They give practical gifts that you need but don’t necessarily want. They are the type of people who give children underwear for Christmas. My grandmother was a Pragmatic. When I lived with her after college, my Christmas stocking from her consisted of an orange, pantyhose and a hammer. Do not give this person anything fanciful or useless; it will give them ulcers. Instead, focus on tools, clothing or cleaning supplies.
- The Itemizer. This type of person knows EXACTLY what they want…down to the ISBN number of the book or the UPC code on the box. My husband is an Itemizer. The first year we were dating, he said that he wanted a wallet and provided me with a piece of paper containing acceptable brand names, styles, colors and a drawing of exactly how the inside pockets should look. It is not fun to buy gifts for this type of person as all the fun and mystery is taken out of the shopping. You might as well just have them order the gift themselves so you don’t mess it up. If you deviate from the itemized list they probably provided you, be sure to include the gift receipt as they will be returning your gift to get the right thing.
- The Listener. This type of person is an excellent gift giver. They listen carefully to everything you say and file it away so they have this information when it is time to buy you a gift. Even if you offhandedly mentioned that you would love a NYC Subway t-shirt, you can be sure that on your birthday you will receive one. If you are a forgetful person like myself, receiving gifts from a Listener can be a joy as you will have forgotten you said you wanted an item but the Listener remembered! If you have poor gift-giving skills, focus on improving your listening and record–IN WRITING–all of the little hints and comments that will give you the information to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones.
- The Overgifter. This type of person is often found in an office environment or among acquaintances. They have the tendency to give elaborate expensive gifts that cost much more than the trifling item you had selected for them. For example, you might have decided to give the Overgifter a small candle for Christmas. You can be sure that, in return, the Overgifter will give you a hand-woven basket containing essential oils, bath soaps, a silk robe, Egyptian cotton hand towels and a candle that is 10 times the size of the one you gave her. The first time you exchange gifts with an Overgifter, you may not be aware of what they are. This will result in embarrassment, shame and a desperate desire to take your meager gift back to buy another. Once you have identified an Overgifter, be sure to spend three times the amount you planned on their gift so you don’t feel like a fool when you receive their gift. Intervention is possible but rarely successful. If you are an Overgifter, I’m confident that you don’t realize it, but perhaps your $5,500.00 credit card bill after the holidays is telling you something.
- The Informercialist. This type of person will always give the latest and greatest gadget that was “As Seen On TV.” One year you will get the Amazing Pasta Pot, and the following year you will receive the Incredible Pancake/Quesadilla/Tortilla/Burrito Making Machine. If you would like to see what you will be getting from this person, simply watch late-night TV or visit the “As Seen On TV” booth at the mall–at least you’ll already be aware of all the item’s features and benefits!
- The Repeater. This type of person gives the same gift year after year. One year it will be a fruit basket, and the next year it will be a fruit basket. And so on and so on and so on. If you like what they give, I guess there is nothing wrong with the Repeater, but it can be a little boring. If you find yourself giving the same thing year after year, why not switch it up a little? Sometimes people like surprises, though I suspect you do not.
- The Self-Involved Unaware. This type of person tends to give gifts that they themselves would like to receive–not something that the receiver wants. For example, a Self-Involved Unaware jazz fan would give an avowed Britney Spears devotee who has never listened to music recorded before 1990 a rare Miles Davis bootleg recording as a gift. A truly Self-Involved Unaware might even give you clothing in their own size. I am giving this type the benefit of the doubt by calling them “Unaware.” If they do know what they are doing, I’ll have to change their label to “Self-Involved Jerk.” Because you will be receiving a gift you don’t want and will probably be giving it back to them, buy Self-Involved Unawares something that YOU want on the chance–thus evening out the whole equation.
- The Crafter. This type of person fancies themselves as a skilled crafter or is seriously into some kind of crafting and needs to unload some of their creations. Thus, you receive the worst gift of all–the homemade present. Unless you meet the criteria outlined in my other post, please do not inflict homemade presents on others–they truly don’t want them.
- The Highly Attuned Intuitive. This is the rarest and most wondrous type of gift giver. If you have one in your life, you are truly blessed. This type of person gives the perfect gift–something you didn’t even know you wanted until you receive it and then realize it is something you desired your whole life. Some people have this talent for a whole lifetime; sometimes you can achieve this state if the universe bestows it upon you for a short time. Whatever the case, it is an honor and pleasure to receive a gift from a Highly Attuned Intuitive. May we all be so lucky to have one and to be one at least once in our lives.
I hope you have found this guide helpful and informative. As you begin this year’s annual gift-giving adventure, I hope it provides you with insight or a least a chuckle or two. And remember, if you have a child and someone gives the child a gift with more than 50 pieces, that person hates you. Do you recognize anyone in your life on this list? Do you have any other types of givers or receivers to add?