IT’S CHRISTMASTIME, kids, and that means many things. Not the least of which is presents. Presents for all! Typically, gift giving is an easy process: Ask, and ye shall receive. But getting surprised with something the person gifting to you thought of is a special treat… except when they screw up and give you a shitty gift.
Explaining the psychological behavior behind a person gifting something shitty is a complex undertaking, but we did our best and thought up 12 different ways it happens, and why it happens, in honor of the 12 days of Christmas.
1. On The First Day of Christmas… My Grandma Gave Me Another Sweater
Look, well all love grandma. Grandma’s great. She bakes. She hugs. She still believes in you after you wasted most of your young adult life. But grandma really doesn’t know you that well, so she’ll stick to doing what grandma’s do, and give you more sweaters.
What they’re really trying to say: “I love you, but I really have no idea what kind of crazy hippity-hoppity stuff you’re into these days.”
2. On the Second Day of Christmas…I Got a Book I’ll Never Read
The only time book-gifting is warranted is when the person actually asks for one. That sounds obvious, but some people gift books to loved ones because it’s the perfect gift-giving cop-out—they can just buy whatever’s on the New York Times Best Seller list, and nobody can tell them it’s a shitty gift because hey, it’s a New York Times Best Seller, how was I supposed to know it’s just 200 pages of some dude beating the shit out of this college girl in between having sex with her!
What they’re really trying to say: “I figured I’d make myself look cultured and smart and do you a favor by giving you a book to show off to people. Two birds, one book that I killed those two birds with.”
3. On The Third Day of Christmas…I Got an Ironic T-Shirt I Can Only Wear Two Or Three Times
An ironic t shirt is an inside joke. You have to have seen the movie, or heard the song, or recognize the pop-culture reference to get it. And to be fair, since it’s on a shirt, odds are that you do. But the problem is that these shirts have a shelf life of like, one or two public displays before the joke gets old and starts embarrassing you. Like say you got one of those Vote For Pedro shirts back in 2005. If you still wear it today, people are going to think that you’re some kind of dumbass who can’t recognize when a cultural fad is over.
What they’re really trying to say: “I found something there’s no possible way you can get mad at me for getting you.”
4. On the Fourth Day Of Christmas… I Got Something Spencer’s Gifts Because, OH, LOOK IT’S A PORTABLE BEER BONG
Spencer’s has cool stuff. No argument, there. You’re not likely to find a portable beer bong anywhere else in the mall. But Spencer’s has a smaller consumer niche than you might think. Their inventory is only really divided between frathouse merchandise, goth tableaux, and hipster accessories, and only those three subcultures would have any use of what comes out of it.
What they’re really trying to say: “I didn’t know how to look cool while buying you a gift, so I went to the mall, found Spencer’s Gifts, and threw a rock.”
5. On the Fifth Day of Christmas… I Got A Hunting Jacket So We Can Bond and Get Closer
We say hunting jacket, but it could be anything that’s meant more for the person giving it than receiving it. It’s their little ploy to introduce you to one of their hobbies so you guys can maybe bond over it. It’s kind of selfish and sweet at the same time.
What they’re really trying to say: “I’m worried we don’t spend enough time together.”
6. On the Sixth Day of Christmas… I Got a Lifestyle Change Suggestion
They can’t straight up just be a dick and tell you to your face that you need to lose some weight, or stop smoking, or get laid once in a while, so they be a dick passive-aggressively by buying you a jump rope, or a box of nicotine patches, or a dating manual. Not only is this annoying, but they also feel self-righteous and smug that they finally have you on the right track.
What they’re really trying to say: “I care about you, but in an indirect, confusing way that might make you want to kick me or hit me with something hard.”
7. On the Seventh Day of Christmas… I Got Candles Because of My Bob Marley Poster
If somebody even suspects even a little bit that you’re some kind of artsy person that reads poetry for fun and randomly cries at parks watching the pigeons walk by, they’re eternally convinced that you’ll get a kick out of candles. The lesson here is don’t be the person that cries at parks watching the pigeons walk by. They carry diseases. Gross.
What they’re really trying to say: “You need candles because you’re room probably reeks of clove cigarettes and failure. Dirty hippie.”
8. On the Eighth day of Christmas… I Got Some Winter Clothing Accessory Even Though I Already Have Everything
Beanies are always useful, and you really can’t have too many. But the buck stops with gloves and scarves. Both of these items were rendered obsolete after the invention of the car. Some people wear gloves and scarves, but nobody over the age of 12 or who doesn’t live near the Arctic Circle actually uses and needs them.
What they’re really trying to say: “I erred on the safe side, because you might one day move to Yellowknife.”
9. On the Ninth Day of Christmas… I Got Something I Actually Need and That Still Somehow Sucks
Smoke alarms are pretty important, but if you get one for Christmas it feels like a business transaction that sucked the last bit of magic and wonder out of Christmas that growing up hadn’t already demolished.
What they’re really trying to say: “Fun is for pussies.”
10. On the Tenth Day of Christmas… I Got a Voucher for a Mega Store I Never Go To
Vouchers and gifts cards for stores like K-Mart and Target are the domain of the elderly. They eat that shit up. Give them a handful of vouchers, set them loose inside the store, and you won’t see them again possibly ever. Not so much for anybody under 50, though.
What they’re really trying to say is: “No need to thank me. Now you can buy a frozen pizza and some gloves and scarves at the same time.”
11. On the Eleventh Day of Christmas… I Got a Voucher for a Hug
Instead of voucher’s that have actual value, some people give vouchers that are “worth” a hug, or whatever, from them. It’s kind of clever, and kind of sweet, but honestly…meh.
What they’re really trying to say is: “I’m the only person you know who gives out voucher’s for hugs.”
12. On the Twelfth Day of Christmas… I got Food That’s Not Meat, Cheese, or Liquor
Not to go all Ron Swanson on you, but anybody who gets overjoyed when they unwrap something and find it’s a fruit basket or a box of green tea is a weirdo. There, we said it. Holidays are for meat, cheese, and scotch. Turkeys. Hams. Roasts marbled in juicy fat. Macallan 18. Knob Creek. It’s all so deadly, and delicious. When somebody thinks food-related gifts and strays from that course, they just plain don’t care about you.
What they’re really trying to say: “I don’t care about you.”