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Amazing how every retailer sells 'the perfect gift' this time of year

December 2, 2008 - Kelly Valeri
Searching for “the perfect gift” for that special someone?

No worries!

Your online home page, ad fliers clogging your mailbox and every commercial you see, restaurant you eat at, magazine you read, billboard you pass and store you enter will be screaming suggestions for the next 22 days.

A lamp at your local dollar store: “the perfect gift!” A bedazzling sweater vest: “the perfect gift!” A gift certificate to Hog-Tied Family Barbecue: “the perfect gift!”

But are they really? Are those things really the perfect gift for anyone? Every time I see a suggestion like that, instead of trying to determine which recipient on my list might legitimately want the item, I like to think to myself whether I would even enjoy it, let alone consider it the pinnacle of my Christmas morning.

And chances are pretty good that the answer is almost always a resounding no.

To further test my theory that items billed as “the perfect gift” are actually far from it, I like to look at presents geared toward my demographic — you know, desperate brothers, boyfriends or husbands trying to glean ideas.

It seems magazines and online shopping networks always offer a top 10 for “the guy,” “the gal” and “the furry friend” on your list.

So I like to see what they suggest for me.

Here is an actual list I found on

1. Rudolph appetizer plates. Great. I’ll pile them on top of the set I got as a wedding gift. And the Asian-inspired ones I got last year. And the pastel striped ones I got for my birthday. Do they come with extra cupboard space?

2. Reusable grocery bags. First of all, nothing says eco-friendly like putting a “green” bag in a cardboard box and covering it with yards of wrapping paper. And although this is an item I would enjoy, a reminder that I have to get groceries the next morning is not something I want on Christmas.

3. Wine-holder party plates. An appetizer tray with a slot for a wine glass. Ingenious. Now instead of breaking one or the other, the entire thing can go down in a blaze of glory when a toddler rips it from an unsuspecting parent’s hand in effort to get at that last piece of cheese.

4. Voice-activated grocery list maker. If my husband spends $99.95 on something, it better freakin’ sparkle.

5. Hurricane votive holders. I’ll concede this one has potential. But the specific item suggested is covered in wrought-iron in the shape of what looks like deer antlers. I do not live in a rustic log cabin. Nor do I want to.

6. Flower vase. Perfect for all those fresh roses I clip from my backyard in December.

7. Sweet dreams silk eye mask. I have a baby. The last thing I need is assistance in the sleep department. Frankly, I don’t even need a pillow. Or a bed.

8. Diamond flower white gold necklace. Can’t go wrong with jewelry, right? Except when it’s so ugly you’d want to hide it under a turtleneck.

9. Membership to a wine of the month club. I’m sure no one can think of a better way to spend $407.40 right now. Frankly, they’d need a year’s supply of alcohol to recover from the sticker shock.

10. Liqueur glasses. Judging by these suggestions, you’d think my sole purpose in life was throwing parties. And the few that I do host every year? I stick with paper cups for easy cleanup, thank you.

So pardon me if I get a little cynical about ads for “the perfect gift,” but if they’re that far off base for me, they must be pretty inaccurate for most of the other people I want to buy for, too.

I’ll just do my best to ignore all the hyped-up gadgets and stick to giving personal items from the heart.

It’s got to be better than taking a suggestion from my post office bulletin board.


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