Help my gift become a surprise!
February 9, 2015 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I got my boyfriend a guitar for his birthday. It's what he really wants, and he does not know for sure that that's his present. But he suspects it, based on prior conversations, hints dropped on his part, and likely possibilities. Is there any way for me to still have it be a surprise when the day comes? Is there some 'master of misdirection' moves I can use to hide the fact that it's a guitar?

My budget is somewhat flexible (100-300) and I'm willing to put forth some effort. I was thinking of booking a hotel in a scenic nearby town, or use insane packaging strategies, or take him to an unrelated store with the owner's cooperation, or have 'fake' presents on hand, or anything else that might make it an actual surprise. But I'm not super creative to begin with, and the next few months of school are not helping.
posted by tatiana131 to Human Relations (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What, is it just currently laying around the house or something?
posted by rhizome at 1:40 PM on February 9, 2015

No it's currently at a friends' house. It's just the number one possibility on his list, and I'd really like it to be more of a surprise than a sure, suspected thing. He loves surprises, and I seldom deliver.
posted by tatiana131 at 1:45 PM on February 9, 2015

Just say you are sorry, but you weren't able to get him the guitar. Maybe next year. I am not intimately aware of your finances, but I suspect that it would be wise not to spend hundreds of dollars to imply that your boyfriend isn't getting what he wants.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:46 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

If it was me, I'd start right away laying some ground that you got confused in the shop and actually bought him a cello. Order some cello strings off ebay and have them delivered to him, and let him open them, but quickly retrieve them so as not to "spoil the surprise!" Maybe you can ask a music store if you can buy a big box cellos ship in to put the guitar in for present opening day. Act super enthusiastic and pleased with yourself, all the while giving your boyfriend the smallest suspicion that actually you have completely messed this whole guitar buying thing up.
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 1:47 PM on February 9, 2015 [18 favorites]

Sorry, didn't see your update that he loves surprises

I'd do things like ask for his shoe size or whether he could take the weekend off if your present required it. PsyOps.

A weekend away would be nice anyway so I think that's a decent idea.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:48 PM on February 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

Or, or get a small thing from Amazon gift-wrapped and "hide" it from him. Easier to misdirect with something too small than something large.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:50 PM on February 9, 2015

You can get a ukulele at Guitar Center for $35. Let him think that's his present for a while, then pull out the real one. For Christmas, my (newish) girlfriend thought all I got her was a nice spatula until I pulled out the Kitchenaid stand mixer to go with it. Plus, then he gets a guitar and a ukulele.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:52 PM on February 9, 2015 [17 favorites]

When I got my husband a guitar, I knew it was what he really wanted, but he had also been looking at Blu-Ray players. So I got a box that was similar to a Blu-Ray player box, and filled it with guitar-related items - picks, a mini amp, a strap.

When I came out with the wrapped box, I could see the disappointment on his face, even though he tried to look happy. Seeing his elation when he realized I tricked him was totally worth it. I had the guitar hidden in the basement.

So I definitely think misdirection is the way to go.
posted by thejanna at 2:10 PM on February 9, 2015 [21 favorites]

What you need is some misdirection hints. Think of other presents that you might have gotten him and then come up with really obscure hints for them and send him pictures of those. He'll go nuts trying to figure out the connection.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:13 PM on February 9, 2015

Get a prop guitar and put it in the guitar case instead of the real guitar. Tell him you *just* got it off e-bay and you hope it's a good quality one. When he opens it up he'll discover you were ripped off and you can both be pissed at the e-bay seller and you'll be getting your money back for sure. Of course you're sorry you didn't get it from a reputable seller and didn't think to try it before he opened it up. Then when that's settled down you can be like the end of A Christmas Story: hey what's that over here and then pull out the real guitar.
posted by Green With You at 2:14 PM on February 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Going along with the misdirection idea and internet fraud detective squad's strings suggestion, could you have misheard guitar for sitar? Actual sitars are a little pricey to buy but you could order sitar strings to be delivered to him for that "oops" misdirection moment.
posted by humph at 3:04 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Go to somewhere with live music with someone playing a guitar. Pay them (ahead of time) to play a song with your guitar, then have them give it to your boyfriend after the song.
posted by flimflam at 3:11 PM on February 9, 2015 [19 favorites]

Nth the crappy guitar as a McGuffin. And what's crappier than a GuitarHero guitar? Go into how you talked to a nice young man at {someplace} who said that GuitarHero was a great way to learn/get better at playing the guitar. You thought this would help your bf increase his skill!!!!
wait a few minutes, then pull the real one out from behind the couch/inside the closet.
posted by at at 3:18 PM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

My family got my brother a guitar for his birthday a few years ago as a surprise. I printed a picture of it with a "Happy Birthday!" message and put it in an envelope so he'd think we just got him some vouchers or something. It was cool to watch him open it and take a second to figure out what it was and then see the huge grin spreading across his face. Maybe you could do something similar, but maybe take a photo of it with a ribbon round it and a big tag with his name written on it? Put it in an envelope inside a small gift box so he thinks he's getting something small.
posted by billiebee at 3:19 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Put a pick in a small box. Wrap.
posted by oflinkey at 3:23 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Give it to him early.
posted by dfan at 3:23 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really like flimflam's idea. I think this would be a huge unexpected surprise, with the bonus being that your boyfriend gets to hear the potential of this gift before receiving it, and it's way more romantic than you playing ignorant. I always like it when skilled musicians play music on my instruments. He will get to appreciate the instrument in a new way.
posted by oxisos at 4:23 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Came in to say pick in a box. I like thejanna's idea better though, you can get a box that's big enough to look like it's the present, but not big enough to be a guitar.
posted by BoscosMom at 4:25 PM on February 9, 2015

If it is feasible, get his second-wish list item. I distracted a friend with tickets to his favorite baseball team while I planned the surprise. So if you can get something else, get allllll hyped about it then bring out the surprise!
posted by mibo at 4:33 PM on February 9, 2015

Buy generic gifts and hide his guitar accessories inside them? Leave them unwrapped so it just looks like ho-hum unimaginative presents. For example, a box of chocolates with an envelope of strings slid under the tray inside the box. A bunch of roses with red or pink picks stashed inside the vase.
posted by Marit at 4:59 PM on February 9, 2015

Can you realistically convince him that you have been unable to acquire the guitar he wants?

My boyfriend totally fooled me about my Christmas present - I told him I thought I knew what he'd gotten me (a replacement for a pair of shoes that I'd lost that I'd had trouble replacing myself) and his face just fell, and he said, "But I thought you said those had been discontinued and they weren't for sale anywhere?" And I felt a little bad for even asking about them, because they were impossible to get.

THEN he went into a whole thing about how he was ordering my present from overseas, giving me the strong impression (possibly just straight-up lying to me) that it was something I had seen and liked on vacation. And I was worried because I couldn't think of anything I had seen on vacation that really warranted being ordered from overseas, but he repeatedly reassured me it was something I really wanted. This phase lasted at least two weeks. Anyway, I got the shoes, and I was very surprised!
posted by mskyle at 5:10 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Get him something else, and then when he thinks the gift-giving is all over, surprise him with the guitar. Like, give him his birthday gift and then go out to dinner, and then the guitar can be in the car waiting for him. It's a better surprise if he gets a little bummed that he didn't get it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:16 PM on February 9, 2015

I got a guitar for Christmas from my dad one year. The guitar was hidden in the house and there was a decoy box under the tree that included clues about what the gift was and where it was hiding.

So, for misdirection, I would wrap, like, a biography of a guitarist he likes or something, with a pick and strings inside. Do a poor job of hiding the wrapped gift so he sees in advance that he's getting a Thing That Is Not A Guitar. Give him that gift for his birthday. Enjoy his slightly disappointed politeness and then his excitement when he sees what's inside.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:24 PM on February 9, 2015

It's my pick in a box.... Hah, I love that. But seriously, I love the idea of getting a uke. I saw a make-your-own-ukulele kit at Urban Outfitters that would make it even smaller to wrap.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:38 PM on February 9, 2015

Get one of his friends to shamefacedly admit that he'd misled you about what your boyfriend wanted, and now your heart is set on taking your boyfriend to a piercing parlour/tapestry class/stamp collecting shop (or slightly more plausible gift idea).
posted by dvrmmr at 10:46 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Scavenger hunt hint-card type thing.
posted by rhizome at 11:26 PM on February 9, 2015

Something like this? (Random Link, no affiliation)
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 6:59 AM on February 10, 2015

I've got nothing to add, but please post an update once this has happened!
posted by Ned G at 5:56 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Update: We both entered our busy season early, so we went with an overnight getaway to Banff. We had a lovely dinner at a swiss themed restaurant (Ticino), and had lots a great time walking around town the next day, buying fudge and ice cream. The guitar was simply waiting on the bed when we got home from the 'birthday getaway'.

I LOVED the idea of a serenading musician presenting it, but it was Easter weekend before the b-day, and there were no open jams happening. I was going to hide it in a large bicycle box (he's a bike mechanic and avid rider), but did NOT have time to pick it up the day before. So due to time constraints it was less of a surprise than I wanted, but I have marvelous ideas for the future and we had an epic time anyhow. Thanks guys!

PS the guitar was a big hit, he's been playing every day!
posted by tatiana131 at 8:07 AM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

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