Soon the season of winter will be on us, which means all manner of Christmas events from meals, get-togethers and parties. If you're anything like us it's a haze of mistakes with an ex, stuffing your face and watching a fight break out between Uncle Dickhead and a pissed cousin.
But there is one other tradition that we must face and that begins with a 'G'. No, not guilt. Chugging a bottle of champagne only to spray it back all over nan will haunt you for life, but we can't help you there.
This 'G' is far more tricky, costly and time-consuming. Gifting. If you were guessing 'Gangbang' then you're a bad, bad human. (That said, if you're free Friday night, do get in touch...)
Gifting is an art. One, depending on how it's done, can both delight and disappoint.
Let's bang through a few quick-fire pointers to make sure it's a Happy Ho Ho Ho...Christmas.
Don't over individuate
Over individuating is essentially trying too hard to buy different presents for multiple people.
Sure, you will end up with lots of unique items but overall the gifts will actually be worse.
If you find one cracking book then buy that same book for more than one person. Chances are recipients aren't going to know they got a duplicate gift. Just be careful not to dish out the same present to a group of people at a party. If you scan the room to find everyone tearing off the wrapping paper to the latest Alan Patridge autobiography, things might get awkward.
Remember that old saying, it's less about the gift and more about the thought. BULL. SHIT.
What matters most when a person opens their gift is how satisfying and relevant the item is. This is especially true when applied to a close friend or a loved one. It's not how much effort and thought you put into getting it. You may have spent hours carving a lifesize sculpture of your partner but what will they really think when it's presented to them.
Remember the one when Ross buys Rachel a brooch from an antique store. On opening the little box she says: 'I told him that it was just like one my grandmother had when I was a little girl' then clutches the brooch to her chest. What's key is the satisfaction Rachel gets from the relevance of the brooch to her. Not that Ross has the money and time to walk into a shop and buy a brooch.
Also, don't make a big deal of the reveal as the present is unwrapped. It's the recipient that will be stuck with the item and as such won't care if you're running around the room screaming 'enjoy your present mutha fucka! Woooooo!'
Last but not least, they know better than you do
A person will always know best what gift they prefer. If they've asked for something specific then buy them that, don't try and surprise them. If you can't get them what they've asked for then there's nothing wrong with cash.
But beware, that does not apply to a romantic partner. Handing a wad of notes to your date over a candlelit dinner might not go down well, even if you expect her to.
If you're really struggling, gift cards are also a reliable go-to. Despite what you may think, the general public cherishes getting gift cards as they offer, like money, a key bonus...flexibility. Don't buy someone a gift card that's too specific. If they love books, shy away from Waterstones and likewise with Oddbins off-licence and booze vouchers. Be general and less restrictive. For example, if they like alcohol then a gift card to use online.