Surprise!

When you’re a kid, and somebody gives you an unexpected gift, it’s 100% awesome.  Until of course, your mom makes you write a thank you note (but that’s in the future, and what kid worries about the future?).

When you’re an adult, and somebody gives you an unexpected gift, you find yourself in a holiday quandary. 

What do you do?  What do you do?

You could thank them, and break out the fibs, tell them that of course you have something for them, darn it, you just forgot it back at the house, or office, or the North Pole.  You could tell them you’re so shocked, you had no idea you were exchanging gifts this year.  You could be honest, and ask them what they thought they were doing, putting you under a holiday reciprocation obligation? 

Or, you could tell them to, “Look over there!” and run away like a giftless coward.

No judgment, Gentle Reader. At one time or another, I’ve used all of the afore-mentioned gambits.

But it’s just too hard to fake your own death and start a new life in a new city every single Christmas.  So, admit the surprise present phenomena will probably happen every year.  Then you can prepare for it.

Gift Cards.  Buy a handful of $10 gift cards from a variety of stores.  Tuck each one into a holiday card, and when needed you can put their name on the envelope.  Then wait until the gifter is distracted or leaves the room, pick out the appropriate gift card, and you’re all set.

Customized nosh boxes.  Go to the dollar store and pick up some boxes, baskets, or some other vessels.  Then using a theme; movie night, girl’s night, breakfast, spaghetti dinner, etc.   Pack the vessels with the appropriate supplies.  Shopping at the dollar store or someplace like Home Goods, $10 will be plenty for a really thoughtful food gift.

Cocktail box.  Do the same thing, but put in the ingredients for an interesting or delicious mixed drink.  The very small mini-bar bottles are the size of one shot.  Just don’t forget to include a printed recipe. 

Something homemade.  But, first things first—always make something that you and the family enjoy.  So that if there are no guerilla gifters to gift, you get to eat them.

I always have a homemade bag of fruit and nuts in the fridge because it’s as versatile as a pair of black pumps.  Add a handful to salad, oatmeal, quick breads, ice cream, granola, or put into plastic bags and keep them with you in case you’re out and you (or the kids) get so hungry things get scary.  They go with both sweet and savory.  I butter toast and salt pecans, they mix them with a combo of dried fruit, like cherries, cranberries, and pineapple.  Just put some into cute little jars and tie a piece of ribbon around the top with a gift tag.

This year we’re also making gussied up pretzels.  We’re dunking about 2/3 of a pretzel rod into melted chocolate and decorating.  We’re doing two versions; dark chocolate drizzled with white chocolate and sprinkled with candy cane pieces and green and red sprinkles.  The other one is dipped into milk chocolate, drizzled with dark, then sprinkled with crushed salted caramel hard candies and sprinkled with gold and silver dragees (balls).

A present that comes out of nowhere can be a little frustrating.  But look at it this way.  There is somebody out there who thinks enough of you to get you a gift.  So unless it’s from creepy stalker dude, allow yourself to enjoy the gesture.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

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