There's a scene in the movie Old School where Will Ferrell offers a housewarming gift to his friend played by Luke Wilson. Yet the present is the exact same item Wilson got Ferrell for his recent wedding.

Wilson tells Ferrell, "Actually I gave this to you for your wedding...I hope you like it" as he pushes it back. Ferrell reluctantly takes the breadmaker. Though it's a hilarious bit of the movie, the awkwardness is palpable.

We've put together a list of how to prevent yourself being in that situation this Christmas.


It would be wrong to buy your boss a provocative set of lacy underwear from Anne Summers, even more so if your boss is a man. Anything that can be worn or mistaken for a romantic gesture should be avoided for work colleagues and friends. In case you're confused, that things like fragrances, underwear, jewellery and clothes. Remember the Friends episode where Ross buys Rachel a pin and Chandler reveals that's a sign Ross is in love with her. 


A present should have soon positive meaning attached to it. It should show you understand the recipient's needs and personality. You're basically saying, "I've listened, I've understood, I get you." This is why Rachel responded so emotionally when she unwrapped Ross's gift in that Friends episode. Ross knew Rachel would love the ornate pin as it reminded her of Rachel's grandmother. When we get it wrong it's because the gift carries little to no meaning and we haven't considered the recipient's taste. 


Flowers are a solid gift to show your girlfriend you've put some effort in but it comes with a caveat: don't get them from the petrol garage on the way to the Christmas meal. There is an art to buying the perfect bunch. Effort demonstrates caring and compassion which is crucial in any intimate relationship. Learn what her favourite flowers, colours and scents are and pick out a bouquet based on that information. Don't walk into a florist and buy the most expensive bunch in the hope of winning her affection. 


Finally, when it comes to work colleagues it's best to play it safe. Don't try and communicate some sly message to the person you're giving the gift to; you're not in a gangster movie. That means no books on time management for the person who is disorganised or a watch for someone who is always late. Unless you fancy them then stay neutral in terms of intimacy. A good bottle or wine or a box of chocolates are safe go-to options. For lovers and partners, you should just know. Channel your inner Ross.


December 22, 2016 — Jack Dyson