My mom had a dresser in one of her spare bedrooms that was full of gifts and cards that she bought in anticipation of needing to give someone something and not having the time to run to the Liberty Plaza.
I have a box in my bedroom closet that may as well be my mom’s gift drawer. It smells the same (but that might be the Silly Putty, which tends to emit after a time).
Pre-gifting is a dicey art: No matter how good you are at it, you still will end up with some things that are in the gift drawer for upwards of 5 years. If it gets too old to give as a gift, you’ll have a dickens of a time getting rid of it. It’s new stuff, stuff that you paid for. If you have an ounce of cheapness in you, giving it to Goodwill is going to seem just horrid.
The theory, though, is a good one: Buy stuff when it’s on sale with one or more people in mind, stuff that won’t rot or go out of style, so that when you need a gift - viola! You dip into the pre-gift box and there you go. No need to put shoes on and leave the house to go shopping.
That’s the theory. In reality, my pre-gifting box is full of junk. Right now, I’ve got the following items:
- A hunk of resin shaped like a hastily cut tombstone that says FAITH
- A Weber grill tool holder
- 2 pashminas from my last trip to New York City (These are actually good. I would have given them away by now, except I keep forgetting I have them in there. I avoid the pre-gift box like it’s the Swine Flu. I may air them out to get rid of the Silly Putty smell and actually give them to some lucky person real soon.)
- Reusable ice cubes
- Mr. Rogers’ book The World According to Mr. Rogers. This book is so sweet. You'd be lucky to get this from me.
- The Super Dooper Reindeer Pooper (This one has been in there so long, the candy probably tastes like real reindeer poop.)
- American Girl doll fur coat, red velvet hat and ice skates (This would have been a hot item in 1998-2002, but I suspect that American Girl dolls have tanked since they were bought by Mattel and they came out with Barbara, the Girl of 1967, who is a fashion model with a 6” waist, a teacher and secretary.)
- Miscellaneous toys, picture books and kids’ craft kits
- 4 Halloween necklaces
- Beany Babies in assorted species and holiday themes
- Incense cones and holder
- Cocktail napkins that are hilarious but only related to Christmas (I used the non-holiday ones myself)
- A black and white striped picture frame (This only cost $1.99, so it will have to be either packaged with something else or be accompanied by a relevant photo; both are too much work.)
For about 7 years, my pre-gift box contained a set of place mats that were as adorable as they were impractical. They were made of brightly colored felt with a big pompon in each corner. (Yes, that adorable.) They were dry clean only. I finally got tired of fluffing them up every time we moved and just moved them in with my other place mats. I have yet to use them. I’m pretty sure if I had given them as a gift, the recipient wouldn’t have ever used them, either.
I only remember one time that I was ever so desperate that I had to go to my mom’s gift drawer: My friends and I in high school had a Secret Santa gift exchange and I had completely forgotten to buy a gift for Andy Franko. Late the night before - way after the Liberty Plaza had closed - I panicked and approached my mom:
Whaddya got in the gift drawer?
Everything was extremely feminine. Apparently gifts that call out to you as you’re shopping are all for girls.
The most masculine thing I could find was a tin Holly Hobby bank.
Mom, I can’t give him this. It’s Holly Hobby.
“Well, it’s red.”
For the life of me I can’t remember how I resolved this dilemma, but I hope to God I didn’t give Andy Franko a not-pink Holly Hobby bank. Mom’s gift drawer notwithstanding, that would have been a disastrous outcome for a high school senior. Now that I think of it, I haven’t heard from Andy in, oh, the entire 35 years since that gift exchange.
If you’re reading this, Dr. Andrew Franko of Cleveland, Ohio, I’m sorry about the Secret Santa gift, whatever it was. I’m blaming it on the unpredictability of pre-gifting.