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On Gifts [Oct. 14th, 2010|12:29 pm]
This isn't precisely a FAQ. It's a question/comment-and-answer-format set of instructions for people interested in getting me something for my upcoming birthday (or Christmas or any other occasion or lack of occasion). They are in a strange order in the hopes that I can reduce people being weird about them.

Q1. Something about the instructions below offends or upsets me. I don't want to comply with them.

A1. Okay. Don't get me anything. That is fine. I'm not being passive aggressive - it's really fine if you don't get me anything. If I linked you to this post, it's not because I'm hinting, it's because I thought it might interest you. If I was wrong, then my bad - ignore it.

Q2. But I want to get you something.

A2. Then follow the instructions.

Q3. But I don't like the instructions!

A3. Then don't get me anything. I realize our society has a lot of conventions about gift-giving that I flout, but it doesn't have to be complicated. I won't oblige you to follow gift-giving procedures that you don't like if you don't oblige me to follow gift-receiving procedures that I don't like. If you don't like the instructions, then the only intersection of those things is that you not get me a gift. Which is fine.

Q4. I want to get you a gift enough that I will tolerate your idiosyncrasies. What do I do?

A4. Talk to me about what I want to get and what you want to give, via whatever our normal method of communication is. Make suggestions, and get me a thing that I approve, or solicit suggestions, and get me a thing I ask for. If you have specific reference classes of things that you would like to stick to (especially price ranges), let me know and I will confine myself to appropriate ideas. Do not attempt to surprise me.

Q5. I saw a thing I think you would like, and I want to give it to you, but I have to get it now without consulting you, or (my opportunity to get it will evaporate/the thing will become inaccessibly expensive.)

A5. Then you can choose to take a risk on that thing. I reserve the right to reject gifts that I don't approve beforehand when they come from informed people. (Uninformed people get more leeway, but that just means I move the discomfort from them to myself because I do not hold them blameworthy.) If you are wrong about my likes, and I don't want the thing, then you can keep it yourself, give it to someone else, or otherwise handle it yourself. This is your risk to take. In this scenario, I will just flat out not receive this gift if I decide not to, and I will not even feel bad about it: you have been warned. Remember, it is okay if you decide I am too hard to shop for and do not buy me things.

Q6. But it is possible that you will like a thing I give you unexpectedly?

A6. Yes, that has happened. I have some objects that I like very much which were bought for me without my express advance request/permission. However, note that I would not like these objects one iota less if I'd known I was going to get them ahead of time. It is strictly better to check with me first if that can be arranged, because it cannot make the gift worse and it does eliminate the risk of my disliking the gift.

Q7. But I really enjoy surprising people with presents.

A7. The disposition to enjoy doing things to others that cause those others displeasure is called "sadism". Sadism should only be practiced with consenting partners. Surprise causes me displeasure. I do not consent to experience that displeasure so that you can experience your enjoyment.

Q8. I talked to you about what I could get you and we couldn't jointly think of anything mutually acceptable!

A8. Then you shouldn't get me anything, unless #9 failed to come up in conversation.

Q9. I desperately want to give you a thing without talking to you about it first! Please oh please won't you accommodate me?

A9. Money and gift credit to Amazon.com are both things that I can receive arbitrary quantities without redundancy, the risk of not liking it, or annoying levels of surprise. These are the only things I can think of that are always fine to get me without consultation or my needing to reserve the right of rejection.

Q10. Do these instructions apply to secondhand items (i.e. stuff I already have that I don't want anymore and think you might like)?

A10. These items count as risks taken per #5 situations. I might turn it down, but you can safely offer.

Q11. Do these instructions apply to homemade items (i.e. crafts, foods, etc.)?

A11. Yes. However, I understand that in accepting an offer for such a thing, I take the chance that the creative process will turn out a result I do not expect. As far as that goes you get the leeway of an uninformed person as described in #5.

Q12. What if we are physically co-located and I see a thing that I think you might want, or you express wanting for a thing, and I want to get it for you?

A12. You still have to confirm explicitly that I am willing to receive it as a gift. I sometimes express wanting for things that I don't actually want, on net. I might just be talking idly without mentioning things like lack of storage space, transportational difficulties, roommate incompatibilities, redundancy with existing possessions, or other factors that could make owning the item a poor choice. Also, I sometimes pet and coo over things that I just find texturally interesting and don't care to actually own. However, if you get my explicit verbal confirmation that I really want the thing and would like to receive it from you as a present, then this counts as talking it over with me and getting approval.

Q13. Your birthday is in just one week from this posting! Why are you saying all this now?! Now I have to panic about being late! AAAAAAAH!

A13. One of the nice things about not liking surprises is that I don't care very much if the physical object is on time. It can be four months late or early and I'll still count it as my birthday present if that's what you prefer to call it, as long as I know what I'm getting and approximately when. Fret not.

Q14. This is too hard. I don't want to get you anything now.

A14. Okay.

Q15. You mean you aren't going to reverse your instructions so you can receive the tender ministrations of my unguided gift-giving prowess?

A15. No.

Q16. I have another question.

A16. Ask it via whatever our normal form of communication may be.

[User Picture]From: _ogmios
2010-10-14 07:36 pm (UTC)
You're deliciously eccentric.
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[User Picture]From: alicorn24
2010-10-14 07:37 pm (UTC)
Eccentricity, om nom nom.
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[User Picture]From: _ogmios
2010-10-14 07:38 pm (UTC)
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From: cronodas
2010-10-15 09:28 am (UTC)
Do you have an Amazon.com wishlist?

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[User Picture]From: alicorn24
2010-10-15 02:40 pm (UTC)
No, I do not.
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[User Picture]From: piseag
2010-10-15 05:50 pm (UTC)
why not? they're helpful.
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[User Picture]From: alicorn24
2010-10-15 10:17 pm (UTC)
I haven't looked into them. Perhaps I shall in the future.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-03-17 01:34 am (UTC)
Interesting. My solution to the gift problem is just to tell people not to give me anything. Unfortunately, many don't listen.

May I post this comment as an anonymous early 100th birthday gift? <3
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