Sunday, November 18, 2012

Unrealistic holiday gift guides

My last name is Worick, not Warbucks.

With that in mind, I'm exasperated each holiday season when the gift guides start appearing in magazines, catalogs and websites. I love the concept of a guide of the season's best picks for everyone on your list (I've even written a few myself). Thing is, my list doesn't include Kate Middleton or Oprah. Throughout the recession, I've expected to see dialed-down gift ideas, presents you can buy on the cheap or even make. Instead, we get suggestions like this, featured in the November issue of Lucky: "Brit designer Charlotte Olympia's cheeky little cat flats strike the perfect balance between playful and posh."

These shoes retail for $895.

Call me catty, but who is buying these shoes, for themselves or as gifts? When a gift guide recommends keeping bottles of Dom or a case of $60 Diptyque candles on hand to give to a hostess or letter carrier, I wonder who gifted the editor with a box of delusion?

Then there's the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. For a cool $250,000, you can buy a dinner party for ten prepared by Chefs Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse, and Richard Rosendale. What's a quarter of a mill for an unforgettable evening and a Christmas gift a loved one is sure to appreciate? I mean, who needs to retire, really? Tap that 401K and get your Bocuse d'Or on.

When I read these far-fetched gift guides, I'm constantly reminded of my anemic bank account and what a loser I clearly am (always an awesome attitude with which to enter suicide season, fa la la). I may be delusional myself, but I don't think most families are rocking a five- or six-figure budget for their Christmas list.

Until there are more articles like Real Simple's "50 Gifts Under $50," I'm going to scare up a French Laundry Cookbook or make salted caramels for the lucky ones on my list. Let's hope they appreciate the sentiment, if not the cents, behind the gift.

(photo: Neiman Marcus Christmas Book)


Anonymous said...

I'm all for inexpensive gifts, but there's one category that deserves a punch all its own, and that is the Hand Made Decorative Object. "Hey, where's that giant wreath I gave you, that I made out of beer cans and weeds?" If you must give people such crap, at least have the decency to never inquire about it when you visit them.

wendy said...

I like to alternate between profoundly weird gifts and homemade/handmade holiday gifts, sometimes the two categories weld together. Last year associates and distant family got Christmas ninja themed cookies (I tried sandwiching raspberry jelly in between layers of the shortbread, the effect was not as gory as I hoped but they were still cute cookies), intimate friends and family got various themed sock monkeys according to their interests.

If it's alright with you I think I'll adopt calling the holidays "suicide season"