Gifts and their diminishing meaning

I constantly have this argument with my wife. She is of the opinion that the closer to the event that the gift is bought, the less you care. For example, suppose her birthday is on the 15th of the month. To her, if I purchase her gift on the 5th it means more than if I bought it on the 14th — even if it’s the same gift!

I’m going to make a leap and suppose it’s a “woman thing”. It might not be, but I don’t really care how far in advance a gift is bought. Maybe it’s just me. Let me know.

I put it to you, the jury. Presuming you already have the gift idea planned, does buying a gift further in advance indicate you care more?


  1. I really didn’t want to vote ‘yes’ but it just makes more sense. Whatever the reason for purchasing the gift earlier (i.e a sale), i just think it means the person was thinking about you and the occasion for the gift longer. If that is true then i can only assume that the person really cares (cares more), that doesn’t mean the person who purchases the gift later doesn’t care. It does mean that the person who purchases the later gift had more important or pressing things dealing with.Like u said though, i do believe that it’s a ‘woman thing’.

    • But then wouldn’t that mean a birthday gift for her 30th birthday be bought the day after her 29th…If the distance before it makes a difference? I’ve asked this and gotten ‘a look’.

      It seems petty to me.

  2. It is petty.

  3. Some people could purchase a gift early and say, “Good. Now I don’t have to worry about that a**hole anymore.” Also, some people may not have the money until a few days before the event. It’s a silly question and silly logic that says, “Yes.”

  4. Floating on Tiptoes says:

    I agree with your wife on this one. If I buy a gift early, I have put so much thought into it, but if I wait until the last minute, I buy something just for the sake of it.

  5. Ah, but here’s the problem. Why should the receiver even KNOW when you got it?

    I can think of something well in advance but because it is so far in advance I wait to purchase it later. That way the risk of discovery is less. But there have been times when I have looked for just the right thing and the closer it gets to the occasion the antsier I get, and there have been times when it’s been pretty much at the last minute before I find something that suits what I’m looking for.

    If someone is equating length of time between purchase of the gift and the event, I think they’ve got a real problem.

  6. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I actually agree with you and Glenn.
    When you purchase the present is irrelevant.

    I can understand if she’s concerned with the amount of thought that goes into the purchase, but what if it’s a thoughtless item purchased months in advance? Would that really make her feel better about it?

  7. I have to say, I disagree with your wife. When the gift is purchased is irrelevant, except when it reflects a larger issue. If a gift is purchased at the last minute, the circumstances might make the difference, not the timing itself.

    I’ll use a real-world example; I woman I know has a Christmas birthday. She also grew up in a less than ideal family situation. Every year, her family would prepare for Christmas and forget her birthday, and every year she found herself with birthday gifts that had clearly been purchased at the last minute from the only places that were still open late on Christmas Eve, like gas stations (she got car air fresheners once). Obviously, these last minute gifts *did* reflect a lack of caring on the part of her family, but that had more to do with being a disfunctional family than the timing of the purchase.

    In the other extreme, I know people who buy things as gifts as they find them, well in advance of any gift giving event. In fact, they don’t buy them for any particular event or person at all. To these people, this is their own version of preparedness, so that when a gift giving event does arrive, all they have to do is go into their storage closet, select something that’s in there and wrap it. This, too, shows a lack of caring on their part, because the advance purchase is unrelated to any recipient at all, but rather for the convenience of the purchaser.

    Gifts should be bought with the recipient in mind, and it’s entirely possible that just the right gift for a person simply isn’t available until shortly before the gift giving event, or the giver didn’t discover it until the last minute. Finding the perfect gift for someone is as much a matter of luck as forethought.

    • I buy my gifts last minute as a rule. Not because I don’t know what I’m going to get, I just don’t like having the thing hanging around in the house to get lost or damaged. That and I’m a habitual procrastinator. But my procrastination is in the purchase , not the idea of what gift. I know what gift I’ll be getting long in advance.

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