I love Christmas, and I can honestly say that my favorite thing about it is seeing someone’s face light up when they open the perfect gift. I’ve spent years honing my craft as the best gift-giver in the land, and I’d like to impart some of that wisdom on you all.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to shop for each person on your list.
Dad – This one’s tricky. If Dad wants something, Dad buys said thing, and it’s usually something weird like an electric guitar or a 50-gallon drum of jalapenos. I would say the most success I’ve had in a Dad gift occurred when I was about 15 or 20 years old. I bought a blank journal at Barnes and Noble and filled each page with a photo, a quote or a memory of Dad. He still has it, and it still makes us laugh. If you’re not up for that challenge, there’s always Astros memorabilia.
Mom – Your mom does not need any more jewelry, especially cheap crap. This gift is actually the easiest one on my list. My mom takes care of everyone else and never does anything for herself. Listen carefully, and you’ll pick up on what Mom loves. That new Keith Urban song. The TV show NCIS. Macadamia nuts. Her grandkids. A framed photo goes a long way, people, and they sell frames at the dollar store.
Niece/daughter – It really depends on the person. I have one niece who loves to read and one whose goal in life is to be deemed “the queen of fashion.” I’ve learned over the years not to spend too much money on kids. They lose things, outgrow things and, by no fault of their own, they just don’t appreciate how much a James Avery bracelet costs.
Nephew/son – To date, the best gift I ever purchased for one of the boys in my life was a lizard that grows when you put it in water, sort of chia-pet style. It came from the dollar store, and while the tail of the lizard has broken off, grown back again and been shoved up my nephew’s nose, it is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Significant other – This is the hardest one for me. It takes the fun out of gift-giving to ask your loved one to make a list, but it’s also pretty disappointing when you have to return the item or it sits in a corner collecting dust because he’s just not that into it. I’ve done well with clothing, electronics and food. Which brings up another good point: if you all have loved ones in other states, sending some Texas barbecue or Texas-themed goodies from Buc-ees are always winners. When I lived in Georgia in the early 2000s, a girlfriend sent me a “Don’t Mess with Texas” piggy bank that is still prominently displayed on a bookshelf in my living room.
Sister – We’ve had a lot of swings and misses over the years, and now my sister and I employ a philosophy of: Go in the store, pick up the first thing that catches your eye, then buy the polar opposite of it for your sister. We do not have similar taste in clothing, purses or jewelry, but we’ve been around each other long enough to have a fairly good grasp of what the other might enjoy. And it sure is rewarding to see your sister wearing something you picked out for her.
Brother-in-law – He’s a tough nut to crack. He likes Star Wars and he went to Texas A&M. But he’s been married to my sister for almost 20 years, and I’ve pretty much exhausted all possibilities. Thanks to me, he now has Star Wars and A&M pajamas, T-shirts, coffee mugs, caps, socks and more. This year, I’m probably gonna default to Astros paraphernalia, which is lazy, but I’m stumped.
Grandmother – Hands down, the best present I ever got my grandmother was a red purse from TJ Maxx. She tells all the ladies at the beauty shop that her granddaughter got it for her and I think she’s carried it for about five years. It is bright and beautiful just like she is. Worst gift idea for a grandmother: I won’t go into too many details here, but when you order a “jogging suit” for your Mimi, make sure the word “JUICY” isn’t written across the seat of the pants.
Grandfather – I don’t have any living grandfathers anymore, and I didn’t often buy them gifts when I did, but they’re pretty easy. Framed family photos are always nice for senior citizens who have limited living space and don’t really need any more junk. I once bought my grandfather a pair of slippers that said “Old Fart” on them. They made a whoopee-cushion noise as he walked down the hallway. He called them his pooters. Score.
So, my friends, spend this holiday season thinking of what your loved ones might actually enjoy. Don’t go into debt to impress your relatives; they already love you. Enjoy the spirit of giving, and remember that the goal is to make others smile.
April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.