What is the secret to being a good gift-giver?

This is something I pondered in November and December, what with the obvious lead-up to Christmas, but now I look at those of you with significant others out there and I wonder what I would be doing were I a person with a person.

Being almost perpetually single, my last foray into February’s fond fest was in the late 90s. Yes I know that’s 20 years ago. Yes that is a long time and no, I don’t want to know how old you were at the time.

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Even in the halcyon days of youth, romance and I disagreed on several topics and we’ve tended to stay away from one another. I mean, I tried calling but I’ve apparently been what the kids call ghosted.

Jokes aside, I think romance is interesting but I find it interesting the same way I find theoretical physics interesting: the concepts are cool but I have no understanding of how anything works.

When it comes to gifts, there are people who ask what others want/need and then there are those who use their own instincts. I try to be a bit of a mix of both because asking seems to take the feeling out the process and guessing leads to disaster because I have no idea how to be thoughtful.

For these and other reasons, not the least of which is frugality, I stick to a few basics when it comes to gift-giving.

First, I aim for books or games. Why? I like books and games and just assume others like books and games as well. Books are easy if you know even a little about the person.

Games are tougher because not only are you trying to match a personality with a game, you’ll want to play the game before so you can judge the quality, as not all games are created equal. That means either finding someone with a copy already, or just guessing.

Secondly, there is always the booze route. I try to avoid this as I am living a slightly healthy lifestyle and it seems somewhat hypocritical. At the same time, no one ever says “I don’t like that free booze you gave me,” making it a crowd pleaser.

Then there is food but you really have to know what people love because you don’t want to buy a big pile of, say Kit Kats, for a Snickers person. It’s still chocolate but it’s not the right chocolate and will likely get tossed or farmed out… or maybe you also like Kit Kats and want to eat them yourself… which I suppose is fine. I mean, it makes you a monster, but as long as you are okay with that, it’s fine.

I suppose my lack of social skills inhibits me somewhat in that regard. I usually focus on a specific aspect of a person instead of putting myself in their shoes and wondering what they’d like. Book people get books. Gamers get games. Easy peasey.

Wow… you can tell how uncomfortable I am with romance by the fact a column about Valentine’s Day became gift-giving advice. At least I felt comfortable enough with you folks to own my insecurities.

I’m done now.

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Antigonish native Matt Draper has been a photographer, reporter and columnist for The Reporter since 2003.