如何選擇令人失望的禮物 – short guide to bad gifting

From time to time in the news I can read about people overreacting about the gifts they didn’t want. Recently a girl 10917813_316399448550519_1225826480594150515_nsmashed a brand new smartphone because it wasn’t the newest iPhone 6. This story ends up in a really sad way, but usually it’s just a photo of 99 roses in a garbage bin or video on YouTube with arguing couple. Whenever I read about situations like this I just sigh and think of ‘First world problems MEME’.

It made me start to wonder what would all those people do if they were in relationship with my husband. Trust me, if you ever thought you didn’t really pick a right gift then you haven’t met Sing.

I love him so much, but when it goes to gift giving he sucks. I don’t blame him – in his family exchanging gifts doesn’t exist. The only form of gift is a red pocket, eventually ‘Mom, I want this’. Let them pick on their own and you will end up with that painful ‘It’s great’-smile. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not picky with my gifts but their choices are always completely from another planet. Before coming to America, Momzilla asked me what to get for our landlord’s son; being good daughter in law I told her some car toys would be fine. Guess what she brought… Every two year’s old most necessary item – dried mushrooms. Three kinds of dried mushrooms.
Now you know why I can’t blame Sing – it’s in his blood.

Of course he cannot match the Mushromzilla, but if they ever team up they can open a break up company. 10868190_308940182629779_564623212678640845_nYou don’t want to be with someone anymore but you don’t know how to say it out? Let our Mother&Son Inc. buy your significant other a gift and see how soon he or she disappears from your life.

When we started dating it wasn’t that bad, he actually tried to pick something that is a ‘safe’ choice for a gift and wouldn’t end up on whydidyoubuymethat.com (FYI, that’s a real site). But longer we are together, the choice of his gifts got worse and worse. I remember first gift he ever got me was a beautiful silver necklace with a heart shaped stone. Then on my birthday I got a cooking book. Since I told him I like cooking it could be justify. It could, that’s true, but only if he actually got it for me instead of getting it as a bonus from American Express.
To make it more funny, I got a second one for Christmas the following year and at that time he accidentaly told me the first one was from the credit card company. He tried to save his face saying he bought the second one, but I just laugh at him. Later on, at the age of 21 and a half I got a Hello Kitty backpack. ‘Because I know you like cute stuff’. If only it was a Rilakkuma…
Then for some time I picked my own gifts so he can see what kind of things I like exactly and hoped that he will learn. I sighed 285375943 times on one purse, especially since my old was holding on the last threads. Instead I got a year pass to Six Flags. I won’t lie, it was fun, but it just proved me delicate suggestions don’t work for him. I need to go and point my finger to what I want to get. And even this won’t guarantee he will choose it. But nothing can beat this year’s Christmas gift. Sing was in Ireland so he sent his friend over with a huge Tiffany & Co. bag.image You could just imagine my eyes shinning, I never really had anything fancy (I’m a cheap bastard to myself, I admit it). My heart is beating really fast, I open the beautiful mint wrapped box and what I see? Set of business wine glasses. I don’t even like alcohol. I felt like those kids when they think it’s an apple covered in caramel but someone used onions instead of apples. Although I appreciate his effort, he said he just wanted me to have something more fancy and unique. Too bad he forgot he’s the only wine lover in the house. Luckily this Valentines I sent him a link to Amazon and got EXACTLY what I wanted and needed.

Looking at him I made a short guide to gifting:

  1. Be sure you don’t listen to what your partner is saying.
  2. Try to make gift useful for yourself
  3. Always have an excuse that can somehow connect the gift to the person, even if it’s a very lame excuse.
  4. In case you have no idea what to get, ask your mom – she will be happy to give something nice to her ‘favorite’ daughter in law.
  5. Be in relationship with a person who won’t get mad or upset about your gifting-clumsiness
  6. At least try, that’s all that matters. And if you finally success, it will be the day of your victory (later you will be able to use it during an argument).

Of course I laugh about it, make jokes with my mom like ‘At least it’s not the third cooking book’ and I hope Sing doesn’t feel the same way about my gifts because at least I listen to him, haha. I really appreciate 15892_530625323614365_194461810_nhe tries so much to make the gifts personal and I just think it’s adorable mix of love, consideration and culture differences.

Have you ever got a bad gift? Do you think anyone can match Momzilla and Sing? Share your stories! Also check out the latest post written by Constance from Foreign Sanctuary about her worst gift from her Taiwanese husband! (click here)

57 thoughts on “如何選擇令人失望的禮物 – short guide to bad gifting

  1. Haha, I was actually talking about this gift giving subject with some friends just the other day, since we just passed Valentine’s Day. Everyone had some real horror stories…but I’m lucky with YJ so far. (Or maybe we’ve just not been married long enough??) He’s very thoughtful, and though he sometimes misses the mark a little bit, I know he tried very hard.

    ….Actually, I have a confession to make. The bad present-giver is ME! Well, no… yes. Sometimes. Once I gave him Poo-Pourri for his birthday (along with something nice of course!!) If you don’t know what that is:



      1. Yes! The commercial is sooo funny, but it includes a lot of really difficult synonyms for poo that I don’t want to explain to YJ, so he’ll have to learn on his own, haha!! 😀


  2. I love this! And Constance’s post, too!. So funny. When I was engaged to Cai, he told me that he had gotten me a gift and couldn’t wait to give it to me at Christmas. He knew I was Jewish and celebrated Christmas like most people in China did–not much. But whatever. A gift comes from the heart and I’m the type who will love something just because someone I love gives it to me…until Cai made his big gift presentation. It was a stuffed pig in a Christmas-pattern cloth box. I recently found a photo of said pig at our old house in San Francisco and had a big laugh. Apparently, it had survived the big move from Hong Kong to SF. I have no idea what happened to that pig after I left SF, but I hope it was donated and found a good home. Oink.


  3. Haha, I get you about the gifts. I sometimes don’t really prefer when someone gets me a present cos I may not like it. Nowadays, I plead old age and just tell them what I want instead of hinting at it..haha..😄


  4. Thank god I am doing better than Sing! So far I only messed up a few presents while my wife is another matter.i think the first gift I got was a coffee cup. Two years ago I got for Christmas a pair of gloves…and so on. The only good presents I got were the ones I chooses myself and then of course the best of them all last Christmas present: colectors edition Lego x-wing!!

    I think MIL is nearly on par with Momzilla. I remember last time we were in China visiting granny and uncle with his family, MIL asked who bought this ugly shirt for the little girl (3years old back then I believe). She went on and on how ugly it is and that they should burn it. In the end her brother (uncle) said that MIL got it as a birthday gift for thr girl


  5. LOL. Poor you. Mushrooms. A lot of Asians, at least in my family seem to think gifting food is a great idea. Not just chocolates, but also potato chips, cooked chicken (the flat red ones)… :/


  6. I have been married for nearly 44 years. I learned a long time ago that my husband is tight with his money. So, I started a campaign about 30 years ago. I start by picking out the most expensive item I want and put it on a list with three other things, all much less expensive. He will always, ALWAYS choose the cheapest item. Not that the item was all that expensive compared to the first gift. We also decided that it was best to have lists to give to each other for gift giving moments. Now I know exactly what gizmo whizzbang he wants, and he knows what I want. He thinks I am surprised, but I know his penny pinching ways. He is always surprised, because he never knows which one I will pick. Every now and then he will surprise me, like our planned train trip across the US and along the Northern CA coastline. Yeah, he is a cheap old fart, but he is my old fart, and I guess I will keep him.


  7. I wonder what your MIL was thinking when she bought those mushrooms for a 2yr old. 😛 I think I got lucky with Tony. He gives nice gifts, but at first he would give me things he thought a “woman needed”. -.- I’m a pretty cheap bastard to myself too! I have no interest in luxury items. It took him a while to realize I don’t like jewelry or designer bags. Everyone other woman in the world would be happy to receive such gifts, but its rrrraaaarrrreeee when I use them. He has finally learned I am a dork at heart. I rather have vinyl, pokemon cards, dvds to my favorite cartoons, or food. ❤


  8. Ha ha, mushrooms for a two year old, that is hilarious! My worst gift ever from Alan was a solar powered battery charger. His logic was that I like the environment, hmmm… After that explicit instructions were given come gifting season!


  9. Haha. I was absolutely not expecting the dried mushrooms. But you know, living in China, I can kind of understand where these gifts come from. Your mother in law probably thought, “Oh well, he’s a growing boy. Better give him something nutritious!”


  10. I thought the mushrooms were the funnest part 😀 I have a question. I was just curious but do you and your husband speak in English? Can you speak Chinese or write/read it at all? What language, or how do you communicate with your in-laws? 🙂 Sorry if this is a weird or random question!


    1. we speak in English, but I know how to write and read some Cantonese, not fluently but without bigger problems 🙂 I don’t understand Momzilla’s Cantonese (she’s native to Shanghainese) so we write and google to each other 😀 with his father I didn’t really have a chance to talk much, last time I’ve seen him on our wedding in 2012 and at that time I spoke no Cantonese so… that’s pretty much it 😀


  11. Hmm, gift giving can be a cultural practice and type of stuff to give.

    Yes, it appears you have to literally point to what you would like to have. I would suggest 2-3 options and make it clear you don’t need to get all 3 options at the same time. (vs. spaced out over several years).

    By the way, would be interested in your comments on my blog, since you like my stuff (for the past few months), but not really clear what you think. Surely you have an opinion on comfort food..?


    1. yes, I just try to read every single blog from my reader and it takes a lot of time and since my opinions are quite boring I never thought it could bother anyone, but surely will keep that in mind! thank you so much :)!


      1. Blog interactivity is a 2-way street…especially on a long term basis. I’m one of those bloggers who don’t expect people to read every single word I pen.

        Thx for your visit and see you from time to time!


        1. In the interests of a marriage where partners really integrate learning from each other, I hope that Sing will understand that a small meaningful unique gift for you doesn’t have to take so much effort on his part. It’s not that hard if one knows their partner and it doesn’t have to be expensive. I have a problem when there are expectations of significant costly gifts.

          Now, it occurred to me that my parents have not exchanged much in the way of gifts to each other…Christmas, birthdays.

          I think they expressed it in what they did for each every day and caring for each other….my father died just before this past Christmas. They were married for nearly 58 yrs. and faithful to one another in a respectful way. This is the true strength of marriage.


  12. Every Valentine’s Day my [former] husband came home with a stack of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candy and told me to take the one off the top. The others were for the women who worked with him. One year I said, “Please get me something different or don’t get me anything at all.” He chose the latter option.


  13. omg. i wouldn’t be able to stand dating someone like your sing. i’m just that picky. i rather people NOT buy me anything, and instead take me out to eat. food always makes me happy. yeah, i’m that easy. unfortunately, not many people get that. and so my trick is (always) NOT to buy gifts for people and take them out to eat instead. so when they it comes to their turn, they too can take me out to eat as well. i hate buying birthday gifts. i would rather avoid it as long as possible.


  14. Funny post! Unfortunately, like Ri, I have a history of bad gifting. I didn’t really learn how for ages since I was lazy, cheap and clueless. 😀 I gave my oldest friend the worst ones. There was the santa craft that she recognized from our basement, a red clay garlic pot, and more and then I spent years overcompensating with fabulous ones to make up. 😄


  15. Great post, Lina! I think Sing and I are bros! Going to catch up on your newer posts after being away for awhile 🙂 I imagaine you made your way across the Atlantic ocean by now…I’ll probably find out by reading your new posts anyway.


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