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The subreddit r/GiftIdeas is a gold mine not just for gift ideas, but also for drama. There’s the mother-in-law who rejects every gift, but also rejects the idea of not giving gifts. The “somewhat unpleasant” brother-in-law. The posts that start with “unfortunately, I must still get this asshole a gift.” If you, too, have a somewhat unpleasant giftee in your life, Redditors have suggestions for you.
“Do a donation in his name, that way he actually gets nothing,” one redditor wrote. This is probably the most diplomatic solution, no matter the person or the issue that you have with them.
There are two ways to choose the charity. One is to find something that speaks to the recipient’s interests, so at least it feels like a personalized or relevant gift, even if they’re not happy about it. To quote the same redditor: “Oh you like work in computers so I donated $50 in your name to this organization in your city that teaches kids coding or whatever.” If you can’t think of a relevant interest, just donate to a food bank. They need it.
The other option is to choose a charity they would hate, or something that would irk them at least a little. Girls Who Code if the coder bro is a tad sexist, for example, or go nuclear with the Center for Reproductive Rights for someone who is vocally anti-abortion.
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Whatever bothers you about the person, there’s probably a book about how to fix that shortcoming in yourself or how to deal with it in others. Taking the high road would be reading this book yourself and talking it over with your therapist. But if you want to be petty you can just give it to the giftee directly.
There’s a book called Toxic In-Laws. You’re welcome.
An unpleasant gift
Itchy socks, or an itchy sweater. A candle that smells strongly, but bad. An ugly painting that you ask about every time you come to visit.
A gift that’s really for someone else
One of the most evil-genius suggestions I saw for the worse half of a couple is to give them a gift card for their partner’s favorite restaurant. Your sister gets a nice meal, and your brother-in-law has to suck it.
Or take it a step further, and just buy them things for their pet. Check out this brilliance:
I actually got an auto feeder for the cat that was on sale on Amazon, and an annoying puzzle toy. Technically, he is the person who gets up to feed the cat in the morning, so I thought I could spin it as really thoughtful while actually not being for him at all. It’s also Amazon brand and has shitty reviews.
Something impossible to criticize
If your issue with the giftee is that they complain about everything, give them framed photos of the grandkids. Or, heck, have the photos printed on a blanket.
Something messy for their children
If your giftee has kids—especially young ones—focus your energy there. Make the kids happy with something that will be loud or, better yet, make a gigantic mess. (My brother once gave my toddler something called “glitter sand explosion.” That’s the kind of gift you want.)
As several parents pointed out in these threads, loud gifts aren’t necessarily the way to go. Kids make noise all the time; noise is nothing new. And if it’s a battery-powered toy, they can end the misery by removing the batteries when the kid isn’t looking. As a parent, they deal with this stuff on a daily basis.
We actually have a complete list of passive-aggressive child gift options here. You want something that will take up space, like a giant dollhouse or a couple outfits that the kid won’t be able to wear until next year. Or something that creates a chore or an expense, like a craft kit that requires supervision. Preferably with slime involved somehow. And glitter.