Confession Time: I’m a Horrible Gift Giver

Okay, maybe horrible is an exaggeration, but there have been more than a comfortable amount of times where I’ve fallen vastly short in the gift giving department. The numerous occasions where I either gave a crappy gift or none at all still weigh on my conscience and I feel embarrassed all over again when I remember them.

The main reason? I try to “be more personal” and “put more thought into the gift” by making it myself. It’s such a wonderful gesture… when you follow through with it. Which I rarely do. Also my thriftiness comes into play and I try to buy something within means, which is great, but often falls short in the wedding gifts category. Case in point: the leather-strapped, wicker wine bottle holder I gave to my stepbrother and his wife for their wedding. Matched absolutely nothing in their extensive registries, which had quickly been fulfilled. Granted I did include a nice bottle of wine and a note, and it was quite darling, but… really? (Sorry Brian and Holly!)


Other well intentioned gifts of shame:

  • The custom appetizer dishes for the wedding of one of my closest girlfriends from college. I was in constant contact with a vendor who could fire my design directly onto the dishes when he abruptly stopped answering my calls and emails. Since I was flying across the country to be in the wedding I was a little cash-strapped and promised the gift would be forthcoming. It never came. (Sorry Kristi and Rob!)
  • The professionally printed wedding photo for my friends, for whom I was their low-rent, first-time wedding photographer. I wasn’t sure what to get them, especially since I was a “friendor” for their wedding, and at last minute told them I’d print the wedding photo of their choice and have it framed. A couple months later, after it took me ages to get them their pictures (this is why I will never be a wedding photographer), they picked their chosen photo. I never had the money to get the nice frame I had in mind and… god, I never gave them their gift. This one is the worst. (Sorry Kristi and Ben!)
  • The self-monogrammed tote bags for my stepsister, sister-in-law and stepmother for Christmas. The first one I did was a complete fail and I gave up, giving cards instead. (Sorry Brooke, Susan and [sigh, again] Holly!)
  • The custom terrariums for my mom and grandma for Christmas. Why? I’m not sure. I bought the containers and glass beads before realizing the cost of the other materials. I got them something else entirely that was wholly store-bought.

However I do occasionally redeem myself.

  • For a friend’s wedding I absolutely hated everything on her registry. The china was hideous (butterflies and flowers and blech), the linens were boring, the relatively fun items were all fulfilled. I couldn’t bring myself to buy an ugly butter dish. So I went rogue and bought a more modern vase from one of their registry stores that I thought could be used for a myriad of occasions and placements. They loved it, and apparently use it all the time.
  • My boyfriend’s 30th birthday video. This was just a few weeks ago, and I compiled 20 minutes of photos and videos from a whole mess of family (parents! aunts! grandparents! oh my!) and friends, including a plethora of world jiu jitsu champions and a series of hilarious custom segments from a couple local news anchors. It was awesome, and he cried, and then we replayed the video multiple times during the birthday bash. We’re working on the extended edit as we speak, as the program I used made me keep the video to 20 minutes, when I have about 26 minutes worth of videos total.

Sometimes I just need to buy the damn gift from a store, call that good, and not mess around with it further. Or when in doubt, get a gift card. Sure it’s far less personal, but at least it’s something they can use AND isn’t a thoughtful non-existent gift. The Hairpin (one of my favorite things ever) offered a great blog today on wedding gift etiquette, especially when limited to a budget.


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