How to choose a gift for me

I've noticed that a lot of gifts people give to me do not really evoke the positive feelings that they are supposed to. This happens often enough to warrant a blog post, in which I go through different categories of gifts and present my subjective verdict on each of them.

I want to emphasize that this lament is not directed towards anyone in particular. However, there is a focus on types of gifts that are most commonly given by family members and close relatives, since that’s where most of the gift-giving happens.


I used to be flooded with sweets twice a year, on Christmas and on Easter. I’m trying to move towards a healthier diet, and having a readily available stash of sweets doesn’t help. Therefore, I’m very happy that this tradition has been significantly toned down in recent years.

Verdict: A single bag is okay, but not more than that, please.


I'm an outspoken fan of some TV series, so people started gifting me merchandise for these shows. I acknowledge that this is practically the prototypical gift since it displays personal knowledge about the recipient. However, I’m myself guilty of one or more impulse purchases in the same direction, and I’ve come to a point where I’m thinking about how to get rid of all that merchandise.

Verdict: It was nice while it lasted, but this ship has sailed.

Family images

My brothers are now fathers, so I get pictures from the little ones every now and then. That’s entirely acceptable. Right now, these images go into a box in a drawer, but it’s on my to-do list to make a proper album out of them.

Verdict: Go for it.


I'm the absolute opposite of a morning person, so I try to remove as much friction as possible from the process of getting dressed for the day. A few years ago, I’ve thrown out all my socks and bought 30 identical pairs so I don’t have to sort them anymore. Since the prints on most of my shirts are now fading or falling apart, I will likely do the same with shirts: purchasing a dozen identical plain shirts to use in the daily rotation, and dropping all the old ones except for a few favorites to keep for special occasions. I might do the same with other categories of clothes.

A piece of clothing, received as a gift, breaks this uniform pattern. I actually have a separate drawer with gifted clothes that I feel bad throwing away because they were gifts.

Verdict: Please don’t. Some items might be okay, in which case I would appreciate if you ask me beforehand.


I have a pile of five books resting on my desk, waiting to be read, and a list of more than ten more that I would like to purchase if I ever had time to read them.

Verdict: Please don’t.


You know full well that most of these are just going to end up in a drawer after one or two uses.

Verdict: Please don’t.

Home decoration

Decorative accessories will be accepted if you pledge to come to my apartment once a month and dust them.

Verdict: Please don’t.

What’s left?

There’s a pattern here: I’m increasingly frustrated with all the items, pieces and paraphernalia that are filling the drawers in my apartment and doing little more than taking up space and collecting dust. I used to live in a one-room apartment, and everything would fit in there. My current two-room apartment has twice the space, yet all the new shelves and drawers are nearly full. My to-do list reminds me to sort through all that stuff and dispose of most of it, either via the garbage bin or via classifieds. But doing so takes time, and most physical gifts that I receive are frustrating because they remind me that there is now one more item to get rid of someday.

Now I’m not saying that it’s impossible to choose a gift for me. There are three solutions:

  1. My own preferred way when someone’s birthday is approaching is to ask them, or their spouse, if they have an idea for a gift that they would like. You can do the same with me, and while I may not always be able to give a good answer, I will always appreciate that you take my opinion on the subject seriously.

  2. The most appreciated type of gifts are those that are experiences rather than items. If you don’t know what else to get me for my birthday, invite me to a nice restaurant for dinner, or take me to the movies. This will bring us closer together and leave us with good memories that won’t clutter up the apartment.

  3. If all else fails, do not give anything to me at all.

    Seriously. I’m not a child anymore, so I won’t hold a grudge against you if you don’t give me any birthday presents.

    Society hammers this idea in our head that if we don’t give enough random stuff to other people, it means that we don’t appreciate them. (And conversely, that one may not tell people that the random stuff they bought does not bring the recipient any joy.) I don’t buy it. I know who appreciates me without them buying gift cards or cheap merchandise.

The fineprint: I don’t expect anyone to hold the same values as me, so I will try to find gifts for people who like gifts. However, when you tell me that you don’t want any gifts, I will take this at face value. You’ve been warned. :)