Easter is almost here. I can tell because Pinterest keeps suggesting pages about crafting the perfect Easter display. Just using things around the house, you can make your own burlap and marshmallow peep wreath. Don’t let your kids use a ready-made basket for the Easter egg hunt. Take a cereal box and papier-mâché it to look like a bunny, finishing it off with paint and braided twine handles. Looking for an organic method to dye your eggs? Red cabbage and urine to the rescue!
But this post isn’t about the heights of domestic glory brought to you in the name of the Lord’s Resurrection. It’s about a different time of year, the time of year when we give gifts because of the Baby Jesus.
After some time to reflect upon this past Yuletide season, I have come up with a few rules for seasonal gift-giving. I call these:
Portman Doe’s Seasonal Gift-Giving Rules, Vol. 1
1. If you are having a “White Elephant” party, you should specify what that means.
For some, it merely refers to the method of gift exchange. In this case, everyone brings a nice, neutral gift (a bottle of wine, a fancy kitchen gadget, etc.). People receive a random wrapped gift from the pile of gifts, and they can choose to trade with someone who has already opened a random gift. For others, the “White Elephant” party denotes the theme of the gifts as well as the method of exchange. These folks will bring a gag gift to be exchanged in the same manner as above.
When the head of the company doesn’t clarify that he meant the former and not the latter for the year-end office party, it can lead to some very uncomfortable moments for many employees and their spouses. That said, perhaps one day I will need that earwax candle kit.
2. Don’t give homemade gifts.
There are exceptions to this rule. Do I want that gorgeous hand-knitted toque? Sure do! Homemade brownies? Puh-lease put them in my mouth now. You’re a professional ceramicist? Why yes, I would love that vase that you specially created to complement my Hollywood Regency decor.
The key here is being able to evaluate whether what you have to offer is up to par with the craftiness, artistic ability and taste-level of the recipient. The issue comes when people live under the false assumption that they are talented and have good taste. As you know, housewives, we just have to put up with these people. You can lead a horse to Château Latour, but you can’t make him or her understand that upper-middle class values are superior.
3. Good housewives always have an extra Christmas gift on hand.
This past holiday season a friend dropped by two weeks prior to Christmas. She popped in spur of the moment and with her came a two exquisitely wrapped gifts for me and Kit that she had acquired on her travels. Well, Kit had done me proud and purchased an extra bottle of absinthe for moments like this. It was already wrapped and under the tree. Nothing says queer Christmas like a green fairy!
(*Helpful hint: Attach gift tags to the underside of your gift-boxes. It can create a more polished gift landscape, and, for emergency gifts with no tags, your recipient has no idea that other gifts have names on them.)
4. Don’t go to a gift exchange party if you don’t give a gift in exchange.
Housewives have a word for people like this: jerks.