Third Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Just ask!

16 Nov
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If this happens when someone opens your Christmas gift, you have wasted every dime you have spent.

On the third day of Christmas, Flat Broke Blog gave to me: Something for which I had asked! Something I really wanted!

This happens to all of us every year. We always have THAT friend, relative or co-worker whose Christmas gift causes us to pull our hair out. You may be 25 years old and have drawn your 60-year-old co-worker’s name. You may have not seen your cousin Steve, who lives on the other coastline, since last Christmas. Your 13-year-old niece was obsessed with “Hannah Montana” last year, but she’s now obsessed with the Twilight saga.

Then, you have the people who are not satisfied with ANYTHING. I’ve heard of some people’s relatives throwing down their gifts in anger, right in front of the entire family. A friend and I were shopping for someone else she knew (not one of the aforementioned people), and I just gave up while trying to help. It wasn’t my friend’s fault. It’s just that she was shopping for someone with very, very specific tastes! Every time I pulled something off the rack, I heard, “She hates that color. She hates stuff with flowers on it. She hates shirts that are made like that….”

You might as well take your money and set it on fire if you’re going to buy something your recipient will hate. This can happen if your budget is $1 or $100. Here’s a simple piece of advice: Just ask people what they want! Just make sure they also know exactly what your budget is, too.

Yeah, this can be awkward, but they’re going to feel 10 times more awkward as they gush about how they absolutely love your gift — when they’re praying a gift receipt is inside the box. Just give your recipient a call and say, “I’m getting you something for Christmas. No, no. I insist. But I want to make sure I get you something you like. I’d really appreciate your help.”

Some people may consider this rude because it may sound like, “Hey grandma, I know I’ve known you since I was born, but I haven’t bothered to find out what your interests are.” But I look at it as actually caring enough to find out what will make your recipients the happiest this Christmas.

When dealing with kids, always go to their parents first. For younger kids, Christmas just isn’t as exciting when they already know what’s under the tree. You want to surprise them. Parents serve two purposes. They’re on the front lines because they hear about their child’s latest “phase” CONSTANTLY. If parents are unsure — because kids switch from wanting to be Britney Spears to wanting to be Marilyn Manson practically overnight — they can inconspicously ask the kids and pass the info along to you.

 Even if you’re pretty sure you know what the kid likes, still go to their parents. You may need specifics. Suppose you know good and well that your niece is a Twilight fanatic. Find out if she’s on “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”. If you buy her an Edward poster when she’s a member of Team Jacob, you’ll be in the doghouse. Also, you may know your nephew idolizes Marilyn Manson. But if the parents believe the boy is on the road to Hell because of it, you had better skip that purchase. You don’t want to be in the doghouse with the kid’s parents.

This may still not work for that person who isn’t satisfied with anything. In these cases — and all others — include gift receipts.

Keeping track:

One name draw and price limit

Two wads of cash

Three people asking me what I’d like…

Coming tomorrow: The fourth day of Flat Broke Christmas!

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One Response to “Third Day of Flat Broke Christmas: Just ask!”

  1. Jayne November 16, 2009 at 1:36 pm #

    I do this for friends’ birthdays — always make them give me a list of two or three things that they really want. And I’m always a hero because they are thrilled with what I give them. Totally the way to go for Christmas, too!

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