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Nov 25, 2010

Black Friday and Cyber Thanksgiving Deals and How to Buy Presents for Men

The explanation I had always heard for the term "Black Friday" that this was the time of the year that retailers were finally "in the black" (making a profit) rather than "in the red" (still paying off their investments and overhead).

Let's just think about that for a moment. From January to November, that's eleven months spent in the red. Even if your fiscal year starts in March or June (as some do), that's still quite a few months in the red.

I don't know if this is accurate or not. But it does make me feel a little better about still being "in the red" myself vis-a-vis my book. My fiscal year, so to speak, only started at the end of October. If you'd like a good Thanksgiving read, or something to enjoy while waiting in line with your kindle on Black Friday, you can click on my anthology Conmergence: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction or one of the other great books on the side of my page. I'm still trying to reach my own personal Black Friday moment. :)

Now let's talk about something completely different, how to buy presents for men.

Every year I put a lot of thought into buying a present for my husband and every year it is a complete and utter bust. This year will be no different. The problem is that the only thing he wants are geeky tech toys, and he only wants them if they are on sale for crazy low prices, and he is the only one able to (a) know what version/brand/ram/whatever is the EXACT AND ONLY one that he wants, and (b) what price is low enough to be a GOOD price. If I buy him the wrong thing and/or at the wrong price, it just makes him miserable, and this is not the purpose of a present.

He doesn't make it easy for me either. For instance, this year, he wanted something I could have managed to order: a Nook. Yes, the one electronic gadget I know something about, an e-reader. So what does he do? He bought for himself and it arrived yesterday.

Then he mentioned, casually, that he wanted Apple TV. And yes, you guessed it, told me he had ordered it already. Um, thanks.

Now, I've tried other types of things. Tools. Clothes. A candy-pooping moose. Once I bought him tickets to Wicked. When he objected that we couldn't afford that, especially for THOSE seats, I proudly showed him the receipt showing the wonderful deal I'd found. He was happy that I'd started to think frugally. It seemed like this gift would be a winner.

We forgot to go.

Knowing we had an opportunity, and spent the money, and blew it, upsets me to this day, more so than if I hadn't ever bought the tickets. (The human mind is strange that way.) So I will never do that again.

This is getting frustrating to me. If I buy him tools, he doesn't use them, if I buy him clothes, he doesn't wear them, if books, he doesn't read them. He didn't even eat the candy from the pooping moose.

So this year, I bought him... sheets. That's sad, I know. "Hey, honey, I love you! Here's sheets!"


I found a good deal on Amazon (75% off). I know I can post it here, because my husband does not read my blog. (I am trusting the discretion of those of you in my family who do read the blog not to mention it to him.

My reasoning is this: (a) we need new sheets, and (b) I know he will use the sheets because I am the one who makes the bed.

Does anyone else have this problem? What gifts do you get for the person, not who has everything, but is nonetheless very, very hard to buy presents for?


Stephanie McGee said...

My mom is the hardest to shop for because she doesn't want anything. (And if she really wants something, it's generally horse-related and she saves up for it herself.) If I ask her what she wants, she says socks. So it's always a stretch to find something to get her.

It usually jumps out at me as I wander aimlessly through Walmart or some other store.

Tara Maya said...

Socks! *shakes head*

I use the aimless wandering method for most of the presents I buy, although this year it shall be aimless on-line wandering.

Jai Joshi said...

I guess the only way to deal with the problem is to ask him directly what you should get him and where to get it from. That way he gets what he wants, you get to give it to him, and everyone's happy.

Sure it's not a surprise but surprises are overrated.

Rob G said...

Barnes and Noble gift card? Maybe he can use it to download books.

Tara Maya said...

Jai, the problem is if I ask him, he will say, "Nothing. Don't buy me a present. Holidays are a waste of time. I'm going to spend the day working."

It's not really helpful.

Rob, it's a good idea. But I discovered that a lot of the gift cards don't count toward ebooks. In fact I haven't found one that does yet.

Tracy Falbe said...

How does my husband find the time to be secretly married to you?

I've encountered many of the same problems. Years ago I surprised him with a new flat screen monitor on our anniversary. His first words? "Why did you buy me a monitor?" At least I could unplug his old hulk of a monitor, dispose of it, and plug in the new one. He's using it still.

My final word of advice - Buy him things that you like, so when he does not use them, you can enjoy them.

Jai Joshi said...

Tara, ah man, that's a tough one. What a difficult husband to cope with!


Unknown said...

When it's absolutely necessary for me to give a gift, I give a little ceramic figurine of a turtle. Nobody can complain, because it's little. And everybody likes turtles.

For marriage/relationship purposes, I suggest figuring out the Gift Budget and then each buys his/her own gift, then wraps and exchanges them. Then when you open it, you hand it to the proper recipient and they say "Thanks, Honey." It works.

Mary Mary said...

I feel your pain. My husband is exactly the same way. Throughout the year he always sends me email links to complex circuit boards, microcontrollers, and gadgets of all kinds. Sure, it's direct, but he usually ends up getting it and for me clicking and ordering isn't overly exciting because I love buying Christmas presents.

When we first were dating, I bought him nice gloves and a scarf because he was working outside in the cold and had neither. He was very disappointed, never wore the gloves and I adopted the scarf. Well, at least I stayed warm!