Organizing presents for Christmas

Since I remember, I’ve always had to participate in two Christmas Eves. One was at my mother’s parents, other at my father’s. I’m sick of looking at the watch so I won’t be late for the other Eve and I’m sick of traveling by bus in a cold winter night.

An attack is the best defense. This year my GF and me are going to organize the Christmas. It turns out, there will be 17 people. Sheesh. Traditionally, everyone would give a present to everyone. With 8 people, it’s acceptable: everyone buys 7 presents. However, buying 16 presents is a little bit too much. I decided to manage this part. I’ve written a tiny program that generates a graph of giving presents.

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This part was easy. The harder part is that there will be people who should buy each other presents, but they hardly know each other (although they are from one family). Normally, it ends up with buying crap. My idea for it was that everybody will answer few questions; everybody will get some information about people whom she/he should buy a present. I’m no master in making such surveys, but I had to, so I did it.

  • What are your two favorite colors?
  • Are decorative/non-practical things OK for you?
  • What’s your foot size? (lol, this one is definitely heading toward socks)
  • What are your current interests? (e.g. photography, trainspotting, etc.)
  • What’s your favorite period in western culture? (e.g. middle ages, renaissance, etc.)
  • What are your two favorite movies?
  • What are your favorite music bands (or composers, performers)?

Questions are fairly easy to answer. They should give at least a glimpse of one’s personality and help choosing something more personal than an aftershave. I don’t want to get an aftershave anymore.

The biggest problem is with grandmas. Firstly, they don’t use e-mail which makes communication much harder. I can’t just send an e-mail. I have to call them, but they’re not home, so I have to remember to call again, then I learn they don’t have time because they have guests, so I have to remember to call yet again, then listen to complaints about that the whole organizational thing is unnecessary and they only want to buy presents to their closest relatives and ignore the rest, then I start to ask questions but they interrupt asking for specific items that they should buy, then I explain the purpose of the quiz, insist on asking questions and finally get the answers. Then I have to read them answers from other people (why can’t I just copy and paste?!), but they interrupt and ask if they should buy one a John Scofield album, so I have to explain that if one likes John Scofield, she/he probably has a bunch of his records already, but it can be considered a milestone of one’s musical taste, so they can buy an album of an artist similar to John Scofield, then I have to clarify that it’s not that they’re supposed to know every performer in the world, but if they want to buy their grandchildren a present, it’s always good to go and learn a little bit about their taste. Finally, they say “all this” is hard. 47 minutes over the phone per grandma.

I understand that letting new information into a one’s brain is painful for some people. Well, getting an aftershave for Christmas the nth year in a row is also painful. That’s gotta stop. Let’s shift the pain a little bit.

Luckily, the younger members of the family like the idea. They are also quite surprised that anyone asks about their interests. Nobody did that before!


Author: automatthias

You won't believe what a skeptic I am.

3 thoughts on “Organizing presents for Christmas”

  1. hey, re: your nan. I have a similar situation with my mum. She doesn’t have email/a computer and until this year she didn’t even have an answerphone!! I.e. if I phoned and she wasn’t in, she simply wasn’t in – that was it. I got really fed up with it and kept pestering her to get at least an answerphone so that I could leave a message.

    When my mum retires (in a few years’ time), she plans to do a computer course for mature learners or some such. I’ve tried teaching her comp stuff before (I gave her my old 486 many years ago) but no point – I get too impatient when someone can’t take in teh information quickly. My mum isn’t stupid – she’s just scared of technologies I think, plus she lives in the countryside and ppl there tend to have other interests. Maybe one day…

  2. My grandmother (68) learns to use computer now. She has a good motivation, since she lived for years in the USA and she now came back and miss her friends. The telephone costs from Poland to USA are very high, so she had to learn to use Skype and got an e-mail adress. I’m really proud of her. Above all, because she is very unpatient.

    My grandmother (80) have been using computer for the last 5-7 years. He started with DOS and text editor. Now he is able to use Windows (photo scanning and edition, Office and others) and of course Linux. He is also able to install both OSes by himself. For many years he used to tell, that he won’t use Internet anymore, because he has enough to learn in his life. But he bought a modem about one year ago, now he has, I think, flatrate, and surfs in Internet, writes e-mails. He spents with his computer many hours a day. 🙂 Same as his son (my father) and his granddaughter do. 😉

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