Gifts: Spontaneous or from a List?

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I’ve had men I’ve dated say that giving me something I’ve specifically requested doesn’t feel “in the spirit” of gift giving. In other situations, upon my asking someone what he would like for an occasion, I’ve heard that I should “get something that makes me think of him.”

When I think about other people, I don’t spontaneously think of material goods.

Inspiration around gifts for others strikes infrequently; we can’t count on it arriving just ahead of numerous gift-giving occasions: Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and what-have-you. Wandering around a mall or browsing on-line for hours only frustrates the gift giver—and results in an anemic present for the receiver.

And unless someone has special inspiration around a gift for me, I’d rather he not pass on buying something he knows I want for something that I may not like. I have enough bad sweaters, ugly jewelry, and “useful” household utensils.

I believe big in the gift list.

Sure, seeing something purchasable and thinking of someone and thinking of someone and realizing she would appreciate a particular item do generate the best gifts. After all, we define these inspired gifts as “thoughtful,” a criterion upon which many people judge gestures’ worth.

However, someone giving me a gift that he knows I’d like—even if he knows I’d appreciate it because I’ve told him I would—seems thoughtful to me. He decided to buy me a gift, he recalled something I’d said I wanted or added to a list, and he made the effort to purchase it and have it wrapped or even wrap it himself. He probably even has a card somewhere in the mix.

Are you against gift lists?