Aw snap! It's the most wonderful time of the year: With the shop merchants selling, and everyone yelling, you need sixteen beers—it's the most wonderful time of the year.
That's right, guys: the season of needless yet somehow obligatory shopping is upon us. Are you stressing about what gifts you should max your credit cards on? Don't! Here are some suggestions to help you avoid both a brain aneurysm and debtors' prison, because I obviously think we still live in Dickensian times.
1. Ethnic Vintage (Etsy)
I searched for "ethnic vintage" on Etsy once, and it gave me a litany of everything that is wonderful on the Internet. If you have no idea what to buy a person, I recommend trying this. The results are random and assorted enough that something is bound to pop out at you, and chances are it will be affordable. Unless the vendor is a dick and selling an artisanal thimble for two thousand dollars.
To clarify: I have yet to find said dick, I'm just assuming he or she exists in the world somewhere.
DIY! It's scary, I know! But don't worry: I fuck shit up all the time and just say the end result was intentional, and you can do the same. Besides, people appreciate handmade gifts because they are costly in time, which is invaluable. Unless, of course, you are me and have loads of it reserved for couch sitting and wall staring. I know I joke about those activities persistently, but that's only because they're the truest characteristics of my life.
Guys, let me tell you: EVERYONE loves fancy cookbooks. Everyone. I have about five on my bookshelf that I have yet to use, but I like to believe one day I will. Plus, when people come over, they see my fancy cookbooks and think to themselves, "Oh! Fancy cookbooks: You in turn must be fancy as well, despite the fact that there are currently six empty family-sized bags of Cheetos in your trashcan." Not only are these books gorgeous inside and out (that photography! swoon), but they also don't really cost that much, especially if you buy them from places like Strand Book Store or Half Price Books. Or . . . Amazon, if you must. Insert extreme side-eye emoji here.
I'm not quite sure what to tell all you party-goers because I don't usually partake in that lifestyle, but I sure as heck am a pro at staying walled up in my apartment. If you have a homebody in your life, put together a nice assortment of wines, cheeses, and crackers—maybe throw in some chocolate and an iTunes giftcard—and wrap it up nicely in a basket or something. They'll love you forever. And if they don't, don't come yelling at me, you probably did something to make them mad.
5. Sentimental/Silly/Weird (Society 6)
There are usually three ways the reaction to a gift like this can go: weepy, hilarious, or annoyed. It tends to be a game of roulette. All I'm saying is that I wish someone would buy me this Nick Cage portrait already.
6. Practical (Target?)
You know that one person who is always like, "Man I need some rainboots," but for the past six years has walked around in wet, squishy shoes every time it storms? Get that person some rainboots. Or whatever practical thing it is they refuse to buy themselves.
Also, I say this with no judgment, as there are currently five bajillion things I refuse to invest in even though they would make my life easier.
7. Magazine Subscription (Zinio)
Magazines are a pretty solid way to go, because if you know the person relatively well you can gift them something they'll not only enjoy, but look forward to every month. Plus, if you get them a subscription through Zinio, you not only get first-time subscriber discounts, but the person receiving your gift will have the ability to carry all of their magazines around with them all the time! Everyone wins!
Good luck and happy shopping! Don't worry, it'll be over soon. Unless you're dating someone who demands you go all out for Valentine's Day, and all I can say to that is godspeed.