Can I avoid getting junk for Christmas?
November 23, 2011 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Relatives are going to buy me Christmas gifts whether I like it or not. Relatives have a different set of values than me. What should I ask for so that I don't end up with junk?

Relatives: rather traditional. Determined to Buy Me Stuff for Christmas. They are not interested in any of the "alternative" gifts usually advocated; they want to Get Deals at The Mall. (If I say "don't buy me things," I'll get a sweater.)

Me: the definition of alternative. Averse to consumerism, waste, and disposable-quality items. Low income due to student husband. As such, useful gifts are actually needed and greatly appreciated.

Last year, I asked for spices and oils for cooking, which worked fabulously. But I don't need those things this year. What in the world can I ask for?

(Asking this makes me feel like a total brat. My goal really is to avoid wasteful consumerism. Really. I think.)
posted by hishtafel to Human Relations (53 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
If they are in or near your town, maybe you can ask them to get you Deals at the Spa (gift certificates for massage or pedicures or ...) or to get you experiences like a local art or language or welding class.
posted by janell at 5:42 PM on November 23, 2011

Would you feel bad about asking for something that's easily returnable? Would they include the receipt?
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:42 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm with you. Oh, how I am with you.

The spices/oils are a good idea. What about paper supplies? Do you ever write thank you cards? Have a good stock would be nice. Or maybe some address labels?
posted by k8t at 5:42 PM on November 23, 2011

Guys always say socks and underwear, you know, the stuff we always got as kids, but never wanted, but want now. I don't know what the female equivalent would be.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:44 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

When my dad (who is the worst gift giver in the whole world) asks what I want for Christmas, I used to tell him not to get me anything. Every year I'd get another ugly necklace. Keep in mind that I don't ever wear any necklaces, much less giant ugly ones (bless his heart). Now, I go online and find something in the 20-30 dollar range and tell him exactly what to give me. As in, I send him the amazon link and say "This is what I want!" Ok, so it kind of takes out the fun surprise part, but I haven't gotten any ugly necklaces for like two years.
posted by Weeping_angel at 5:46 PM on November 23, 2011 [10 favorites]

"useful gifts are actually needed and greatly appreciated" - "What in the world can I ask for?"

it sounds like you've already answered your own question... what do YOU need, what would YOU appreciate?
posted by radiosilents at 5:47 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

What about linens? Napkins, placemats towels, bed sheets etc? I hate buying this kind of stuff for myself, and find it is always a good suggestion for relatives/parents to give, aslong as I suggest a potential colour palette. It is 'stuff', but linens and towels wear out, and do need to be replaced every so often.

You could always ask for bamboo some other type of eco-friendly option.
posted by just_ducky at 5:50 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

You wanted cooking supplies last year -- how about some cookbooks this year? Cookbooks can last a lifetime and are definitely not something I would consider a wasteful consumer good. But then, I love to shop and consume!

Do you have any hobbies? Perhaps you would like knitting/art/photography/sports supplies, etc.
posted by imalaowai at 5:51 PM on November 23, 2011

Is it possible they'd consider getting you a gift card for a local bookstore (or at least Amazon)? There's always something useful at a bookstore!

Otherwise, what about things like bedding, linens, cookware/bakeware, etc.?
posted by scody at 5:51 PM on November 23, 2011

Oh, yes. I feel for you.

In keeping with the kitchen theme--perhaps a really nice set of measuring spoons? Cloth napkins for the table/picnic table? Lovely pepper grinder? A mortar and pestle?

Locally-made scarf/hat/mittens? Something from an area museum shop, like a day planner/diary? Cashmere or other yummy fabric socks to help keep warm?

Nthing the direct link suggestion. They've asked; you're simply trying to make it simple for them.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:52 PM on November 23, 2011

"useful gifts are actually needed and greatly appreciated" - "What in the world can I ask for?"

radiosilents: it sounds like you've already answered your own question... what do YOU need, what would YOU appreciate?

Exactly. Ask them for your useful gifts. When I was an extremely broke student, I really could have used gifts of a good coat, good winter shoes, socks, underwear, food, textbooks, Metrocard, etc. If someone really wanted to get me something luxurious and not just plain and practical, I might have asked for a Vitamix, or a *pretty* and warm coat rather than one that was just warm.

I'm sure there's *something* in your "if we had a little more money, we could..." list.
posted by cairdeas at 5:53 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

What about asking for warm or useful things that you can turn around and donate?
posted by rube goldberg at 5:53 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Mega pack of AA batteries (usually on sale here since they do the mall thing), package of pens/pencils, printer paper, fancy cooking salts. School stuff for husband?
posted by msbutah at 5:53 PM on November 23, 2011

There are some good gifts out there that are compromises - things that are really useful and wonderful to receive, but which are also enjoyable to pick out and give. Examples: nice soaps. An auto emergency kit. Warm socks in crazy patterns. Candles. Jars of good jams or olives. Pens. An umbrella. An indoor herb garden. Coffee beans.
posted by iconomy at 5:55 PM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

My mother-in-law is the Must Buy Stuff type, and will not accept "We don't need anything" or "I would like a gift card to xyx store" as acceptable options. Going with the flow turned out to be easy - we either request a specific thing that we want but would never splurge on for ourselves (a nicer vacuum cleaner, a replacement for our ancient toaster oven) or specific things that we've been meaning to get but haven't gotten around to (cookbooks, cookware, table linens).

The key is asking for a specific Thing, so nthing the suggestion to just look around your place and figure out what needs replacing or what's missing. Need guest towels? Sheets getting a little ratty? Have your eye on a nice nonstick skillet? Ask for that stuff.
posted by bedhead at 5:57 PM on November 23, 2011

my situation is EXACTLY like yours. exactly.
like others in this thread, I've come to accept they're going to buy me presents whether I want them to or not, and whether I need the items or not. if search hard for items I'd like or need, or that need replacement, and mention them, I'll receive them. if I don't, I'll end up with something nice that sits in a cupboard for years. I still feel guilty about the former, but less guilty than I do when gifted the latter.
what about non-spice, non-oil cooking supplies, like sauces, fine cocoa, flavored salts, gourmet mixes, that sort of thing?
posted by changeling at 6:06 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lodge cast iron cookware is made in the US and, if even moderately taken care of, will outlive your grandchildren.

There are a lot of other tools, both kitchen (lots of All-Clad and Calphalon, Fiestaware, Nordicware, Pyrex, etc.) and otherwise (e.g., Park bicycle tools, Channellock pliers, Estwing hammers/axes/etc., Snap-On auto tools and wrenches and such--about a million knife companies, too, if that's your thing) that you could say the same thing about.

Lots of this stuff is available at big-box and/or mall stores, if that's an important consideration.
posted by box at 6:09 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you have a car, ask for AAA membership. This is one of those things that parents (and other relatives) like to give and it ends up being useful: in addition to the whole having a number to call if you need a tow/lock yourself out of your car kind of thing, it provides you with discounts on a lot of other stuff (eye glasses, travel, and other).
posted by sciencegeek at 6:10 PM on November 23, 2011 [11 favorites]

Oh, jam is a good one. Upscale foodstuffs in general - these are fun to shop for, and fun to receive, and won't clutter up your house because you're going to use them. Coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolates, olives, jam, mustard, dried porcini, nut oils, pasta sauces... Are they rich? Perhaps a truffle is in order.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:10 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If they are the type that like Christmas and love to Get Deals at the Mall, then I'd like to add a small point to what other posters have recommended. Play your relatives' game. Think of useful gifts that you actually need and would appreciate, and take it one step further. Find the deals for them!

It may involve doing a bit of web research to identify which stores are at their local mall, or actually visiting said mall if you live in the same area. Even if you normally wouldn't shop at the mall and go to great lengths to avoid consumerism and waste - the stores might sell a few things that fall in line with your values. If you can give very specific recommendations to your relatives, then you'll both be happy.

For example, you want to get rid of your plastic food storage containers, but it's too expensive and not within your current budget. Maybe their mall has a Target and the website shows there are Pyrex glass food storage containers in varying sizes. Do you need new pillows for your bed? How about a cozy flannel throw? There might be bamboo/organic sheets at that random quilt shop you've never gone in to. I think somebody mentioned towels above - you could donate your old towels to your local Humane Society or animal shelter where they would be much appreciated.

A new Thermos might be useful too. Maybe a new teapot? You could ask for an assortment of herbal tea or hot chocolate to entertain friends at home - invite them over for tea, or bring a Thermos on a walk. Perhaps the local mall has a specialty loose leaf tea shop that's always been a bit of reach in terms of budget.

I am one of those people that LOVES giving gifts, and nothing is more satisfying than picking out the perfect gift that suits the recipient's hobbies and values. Some people love giving gifts but also feel this way about deals.
posted by Juniper Toast at 6:13 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Magazine subscriptions
posted by bq at 6:17 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Along the lines of fingersandtoes's suggestion, I have had years where I only asked for consumables. Anything that could be eaten or used up was okay.

Suggestions: olive oil, infused vinegars, coffee beans, fancy popcorn, teas of various sorts, lovely soaps and other bath products, gift baskets of food from Trader Joes-type places, cheese assortments, bottles of wine. In the past, I asked my (now-ex) boyfriend's mom for one of those big bottles of 500 Advil. I *really* needed it, and it turned into a family joke of sorts - they would give me one every year.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:17 PM on November 23, 2011

This year I asked for a medium suitcase and a well made leather belt, brown or black, among other useful things that I can't afford. This allows the givers in question some room for creativity. To be fair, they always give me really great stuff. I'll even admit to appreciating the Snuggie/slanket thing.

I also asked for a Charlie Harper cardinal print, because I love them and the remind me of the beauty in this time of year. Winter is always a struggle for me, so the print would be useful, I guess....
posted by bilabial at 6:21 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you want to go the sock route, but *special* socks, ask for Wrightsocks or some other specialized sock. (I adore Wrightsocks and won't put on sports shoes without them.)

Coffee is also a good one, if you drink it and they live somewhere with something of a local roasting culture (Google - you'd be surprised). It's my go-to housewarming/bring-back-a-present-from-travel gift anymore.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:23 PM on November 23, 2011

Vouchers to print digital photos


Quality alcohol
posted by trialex at 6:25 PM on November 23, 2011

Same boat, exactly, plus the added X factor of needing to gifts small enough to fit in a suitcase for the return flight home post-holiday.

Here's what I've asked for and loved: gift certificate to Whole Foods or Trader Joes or neighborhood coop; links to Etsy earrings, necklaces; fancy sustainable stuff that I wouldn't buy myself like lunch bento boxes or glass storage containers or eco-friendly towels or expensive wool socks or products from Ten Thousand Villages like soy candles. Think extravagantly: what super-cool eco-friendly dog-collar would I buy for my pooch if I had a lot of money? what are the very best quality earth-friendly awesome yoga pants that I wish I owned? Those ridiculous $60 pants might seem outrageous to buy for yourself, yet totally reasonable for someone else to buy for you as a gift.

Lastly, here's my rationale. Even Target can be a decent choice if you ask for quality items you'll use a lifetime and would otherwise have had to replace regularly if you bought inferior, cheap versions. Example: a huge set of pyrex storage containers that you can use instead of ziplocks, for the next 20 years. Also, you can have these things shipped to you rather than sitting under the tree, if you've got the plane ride to consider, like I do.
posted by mmmcmmm at 6:31 PM on November 23, 2011

Last year, I asked for spices and oils for cooking, which worked fabulously. But I don't need those things this year. What in the world can I ask for?

I did something similar for my in-laws name-from-a-hat Christmas exchange a several years ago. I requested small luxuries that I would love to have. I picked items that
A) would be available to a mass-market shopper and
B) I wanted but wasn't particulary fussy about the specifics.

For example, I love essential oils, so I asked for non-floral essential oils of any kind. It was great: my Secret Santa was able to pick out some things she knew I'd love, and I didn't end up giving a giant box of flimsy, disposable made-in-China junk to charity*. This was easy in my case because their tradition includes giving a list of goodies you'd like; it sounds like maybe that's true for your family, too.

If I were doing the gift exchange this year**, I might ask for oven mitts and kitchen towels because I don't care what color they are, I just need clean ones! But there are some fun or pretty ones out there, which means your giver can feel like s/he is giving something a tiny bit indulgent.

What small luxuries do you love? Do you need a nice new datebook? Art supplies? Pens? Any sort of crafting tool or supplies? A new cutting board? A gift certificate for knife sharpening?

Or build on your request from last year: are there any slightly indulgent cooking tools you'd love to have? If you don't have a Microplane, this is an excellent chance to ask for one. Maybe you'll get a reputation as the person who always wants one nice cooking thing, which could mean a yearly replenishing of your little luxury items.

*Don't get me wrong: that year, my very sweet in-laws also gave me a Slanket and a booklight that broke the very first time I used it. But at least it tamed the onslaught somewhat.

**A few years ago I steeled my nerves and opted out of the exchange. It really doesn't suit my style of gift-giving or my social and political beliefs. Now I give my in-laws carefully packaged homemade consumables --- granola or bread mix or some other non-sweet --- and they say "thank you" and give me nothing or just a tiny trinket. It took a few years but it's very nice that they've accepted this as "Oh, just one of her quirks."
posted by Elsa at 6:31 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

My mom likes to buy me Monopoly themed items. In elementary school and junior high I was a Monopoly fiend who could pretty much beat anyone at it. So in my late twenties I was getting Monopoly sets (I have four of them, all purchased by her) and a Monopoly book and a Monopoly candy dish and I know there's a bunch of other Monopoly stuff but I can't think of it offhand. One year she bought me Monopoly chocolates. Chocolates! Why? Because they were Monopoly themed, and for a while SMPA was alllllll about the Monopoly. I was so baffled by this I never even ate the things.

Anyway, I feel your pain. Ideas for stuff to ask for (I finally gave my mom a comprehensive buying guide - we're two years out from the last major Monopoly gift event, though now she's giving me floral stuff that makes my eyes hurt, as well as various gifts no one can explain):

1. Emergency stuff that's kind of expensive but often goes on sale or seems like it saves people money. (AAA membership, first aid kit, portable car battery saver thing, carbon monoxide detector)
2. Higher end consumables than you might buy for yourself. (Penzey's spices, Williams Sonoma oils, funky vinegar from World Market, really nice wool yarn, good quality paint, etc.)
3. Attachments that go with things you already have. (A dock for your iPod, a meat grinder for your KitchenAid)
4. Things that work for your hobby, sport, or interest. (Camping gear, a new helmet, cooking tools)
5. Things that you can give to an organization that could really use them. (Garden tools, small household appliances like microwaves and coffee makers, plus, e.g., a ton of specific stuff for various age groups in homeless shelters)
6. Gift cards as a last resort, and if you go that route, I suggest you pick places where you know of an organization that can take them. Which is to say, Target and Lowe's rather than Eddie Bauer and The Gap. I say this because you don't want to do the consumerism thing and I have a sneaking suspicion that you're going to feel guilty and weird about using gift cards on yourself. Also, people who have this attitude don't generally like giving the gift cards.

I do not recommend that you become the person who always wants a funky new cooking gadget, because that way leads straight to getting devices that only do one thing, year after year after year for the rest of your life. Make sure to keep cooking tool requests, garden supply requests, etc., very specific. These people already show "default gifting" behavior. Do not join me in Monopoly land.
posted by SMPA at 6:44 PM on November 23, 2011

Okay, so they won't accept 'don't buy me anything', AND they won't accept 'donate to x instead'...... how about getting sneaky on 'em: suggest something that you can turn around and donate somewhere? Say you tell them to get you a toaster: they get to shop and lovingly wrap it up for you, you make them happy by accepting it ("a toaster?!? Oh thank you, it's lovely!"), then you quietly turn around and donate that toaster to the nearest shelter for abused families.
posted by easily confused at 6:51 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Like others, I have asked for things like SmartWool socks, magazine subscriptions, specific cookbooks, potholders, kitchen towels, bath towels, heat resistant spatulas, pyrex casserole dishes, office/school supplies, scenic wall calendars, nice umbrellas, and local specialties. We have relatives in New England, so I ask for things like maple syrup and local honey or cheddar cheese from the Farmer's market or farm store. I have also asked for framed copies of favorite family photos from my husband's relatives. If you have any pets, pet supplies are also useful.
posted by gudrun at 6:58 PM on November 23, 2011

Do you craft or create non-edibles at all? Ask for supplies for that hobby.

One of the best gifts I've gotten from the people Who Insist Upon Gifting was the year I told them "you know what, I love to wrap presents. So I want ribbons." And they gave me a giant (conspicuously badly wrapped) box full of ribbons that, six years later, I'm still working through and have used in every project imaginable. That gift has put a lot of art into the world. They evidently enjoyed finding deals on all the ribbons around the holidays.

So maybe you want yarn, or pattern books, or really good fabric scissors, or a large self-healing cutting mat, or just something that you can make something else with and is of a nice quality that will last you many many projects; that will let you put more back into the world.
posted by Mizu at 7:08 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

From Ms. Vegetable:
Something that would be AWESOME would be an entire year's worth of toiletries. As in all of the ones you want: so fancy toothbrushes, the good toothpaste, the floss you like best, the good-smelling shampoo, the high-quality conditioner, razors, shaving cream, qtips, deodorant.
Useful. Fun to wrap? Possibly good deals, but maybe not at the mall - maybe more like CVS.
(One year my sister got me 24 things of floss. I couldn't find it in the store. We still laugh about this.)
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:32 PM on November 23, 2011

Sewing machine, blender, mixer, food processor, teapot, coffee maker, ice cream maker, microwave, toaster oven, knives.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:35 PM on November 23, 2011

I do not recommend that you become the person who always wants a funky new cooking gadget, because that way leads straight to getting devices that only do one thing, year after year after year for the rest of your life.

This is a good point. Lots of cooks, hate single-use tools and pans but single-use tools and pans are often what non-cooks give as gifts. Happily, I've always been able to give those away to delighted friends sometime after Christmas, but that's not exactly what you're asking for. And as nice as it would be to be the person who always gets oils and spices and other fine ingredients, in practice non-cooks might be more likely to buy pre-fab soup mixes and the like.
posted by Elsa at 7:42 PM on November 23, 2011

Cashmere socks: Useful, affordable, and luxurious!
posted by jgirl at 7:50 PM on November 23, 2011

My parents bought us the smallest box of fruit-of-the-month-club one year and it rocked. Share in a vegetable co-ops would also work.

If those don't appeal, we've given (and received) membership at local museums, which was fun. Those sometimes come with some thing you can wrap and put under a tree.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:07 PM on November 23, 2011

Pizza stone? They're trendy right now so probably at the mall. And I agree you can't have too many nice cloth napkins. Salt and pepper grinders. Uh... a case of Annies mac and cheese (oh that's what I want).
posted by Kloryne at 8:08 PM on November 23, 2011

I'm sort of hard to buy gifts for* because I have pretty specific tastes, and I tend to buy myself the stuff I want. So what I did was start keeping an Amazon wish list. I added whatever I was interested in but didn't need immediately (jam! spices! kitchen stuff! books! music! socks! makeup! whatev!) and then I shared the link with my family. Most of the stuff can be bought at local places as well, or the mall, and you actually get what you want!

*I totally appreciate the thought, don't get me wrong, I just don't need socks with penguins on them!
posted by grapesaresour at 8:19 PM on November 23, 2011

Along the lines of what easily confused suggested, in my family we've previously done a year where we all got each other toys (although at the time there were no young children in the family). We got toys that symbolically reminded us of the person we were 'giving' it to, for example my aunt works at a doggie daycare, so I got her a stuffed dog.

After we had exchanged all the toys, we then brought them in to one of the local Christmas toy drives to be given away to needy kids. (We exchange gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas so this worked for us timing wise)

It was great because it's so fun to buy toys, and it feels so good to help other people on Christmas.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:30 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

I know that bratty feeling: my mother always buys me and my daughter many many things we neither want nor need. Not giving a list makes it worse.

I don't know what you like specifically, but in general, think of little luxuries. Maybe higher quality versions of things you would usually buy (fancy socks, imported chocolates) or something that feels too decadent to you to buy on your own. (Doesn't have to be wasteful! Maybe you've always wanted a fountain pen so you don't have to throw out a dozen ball points every year.)

Or everyday things that are stupidly over-priced; I get razor blades and batteries in my stocking every year. Couldn't be more banal, but it makes me so happy that I haven't had to pay for my own razor blades for, oh, ten years or so. In the same vein, are there things you need but hate buying? Things that not having to go to the mall to get them would be a relief? Let the relatives know that them doing the shopping on your behalf is half the gift!
posted by looli at 8:50 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah if you have a small budget I'm sure there's things you want/need? To avoid getting ugly pyjamas again, I requested a lithium cordless drill and a cute cooking apron from my dad this year. I hope it works!!!
posted by whalebreath at 9:07 PM on November 23, 2011

Just thought of another idea, based on the "fruit of the month" suggestion: CSA membership.

There's a great website that has most CSAs listed, Local Harvest and here's the list for the Dallas area.

I wonder if this is too far from "Mall shopping" for your family, but it would be a great gift that people could get together to get you guys.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:40 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

higher quality versions of things you would usually buy

This is the route I usually go. Being sort of anti-consumerism means that I often cheap out on stuff which is fine to me, but sometimes having nicer versions of stuff is not at all bad. So a few specifics that work for me

- SmartWool socks or other expensive keep-warm stuff [maybe the opposite if you are in Texas. Air conditioner? Really good fan?]
- STAMPS and nice notecards for saying thank you for all the stuff you got but maybe did not want. Sort of silly but I can always use stamps.
- Kitchen storage items - stuff by OXO or whatever that will be better than the old peanut butter jars you may keep staples in if you are like me. Having a few nice jars is great and they're totally the "buy at the mall" type of gifts. Also good for nice tupperware-ish stuff for freezing things and/or some of those glass refrigerator dishes which are an excellent anti-waste thing and yet also seem smart and practical.
- Batteries/soap/shampoo - stuff you'd be getting anyhow, have them restock your cabinets
- Nice wooden hangars - my mom got me these one year and I was surprised how much I liked being able to GET RID of the ugly plastic hangars I had, so maybe you can look at it this way: what can they replace in your life that is plastic and icky now?

Best of luck, I have trouble with this every year.
posted by jessamyn at 6:26 AM on November 24, 2011

[maybe the opposite if you are in Texas. Air conditioner? Really good fan?]

Wicking socks and undergarments?
posted by box at 7:07 AM on November 24, 2011

Keep a wish list on Amazon.
posted by spilon at 7:31 AM on November 24, 2011

call the local shelter and ask what they need. not wasteful, not consumerism.

I wish I had thought about this before I made my list.
posted by desjardins at 7:50 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was gonna say wool socks too, but yeah, you're in Dallas. Not so much. (But for anyone else reading this, Smartwool socks are my go-to gift if I don't know what to get someone. Pricey for socks but cheap for gifts, and everyone loves them.)

How about really nice towels? We registered for super-nice towels for our wedding, and people were really excited to get them for us, and I have to say, it is really awesome to get out of the shower and wrap up in a giant, thick, mega-absorbent towel. They'll last forever (anti-consumerism bonus!) and you can donate the ones now to a shelter or someplace that does transitional housing.
posted by KathrynT at 9:05 AM on November 24, 2011

Amazon gift cards!!
posted by namesarehard at 10:42 AM on November 24, 2011

Is there anything you always like, at least when it's of basic quality? My husband and I have this issue with my family. Husband loves scarves, so we tell mom to buy him a scarf in a color he doesn't have much of. I think we've also asked for smaller kitchen gadgets for which we're not as concerned about the brand or quality - last year was a coffee grinder and a stick blender.
posted by Terriniski at 12:46 PM on November 24, 2011

Ask for a donation to charity. Gift certificate for
posted by coffeefilter at 12:47 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

BLEAH! Nthing the "I'm with you on this".
I higgity-hate Xmas but am trying real hard to embrace the magic having two small children.
My own parents are another story. I stopped asking them to not buy me anything after like the fiftieth time they didn't listen to me.
My solution was "please get me REI gift cards" from now until the end of time.
I have closets full of outdoor gear already but can get a replacement jacket in a new color or fashion. I can get a new backpack or new anything and second hand out the old gear as charity. I can get bike parts. I can just spend the $$$ on clothes and gear for my kids.
posted by No Shmoobles at 1:30 PM on November 24, 2011

Give them rules that you need them to follow and warn them if they choose not to follow the rules you will return, sell or donate what they got.

Some people will take that as offensive, but it works.
posted by zombieApoc at 2:50 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nice upgrades and consumables:
- cloth napkins, especially sturdy cotton or linen. There are some great ones out there, they last forever, you can use them for more than a single meal at a time, and make the table cute!
- wine glasses
- nice corkscrew (the bartender kind)
- gardening tools: the Cobra, nitrile gloves, plant markers, tomato cages - gardening stuff in general!
- chilewich placemats - they literally last forever, are easily wiped off, and blend with lots of different styles of decor
- crockpot
- stick blender
- sewing stuff
- different salts
- spa day!
- cozy couch blanket, pick one you like
- scuba lessons
- coffee bean grinder
- soy or beeswax candles, unscented or citrus or woodsy, nothing floral or sweet
- socks from sockdreams
posted by barnone at 11:32 PM on November 24, 2011

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