When we go gift shopping, we aim to just pick something up that we think is going to be fun for a loved one. But when we receive a gift, we can't help but be suspicious that everyone has some ulterior motive behind their choices. What are people trying to say, exactly, if they give us a bottle of cologne? That we smell terrible?
Below, we've put together a handy list of the subtexts attached to some of the year's most popular gifts — just in time to make you second-guess everything you already bought! Enjoy this paranoid (yet alphabetical!) trip through Christmas.
The gift-giver thinks you have nothing better to do with your time than sit around in a tub, probably while being waited on, hand-and-foot, by a host of servants. In other words, they think you're spoiled.
The gifter is ostentatiously spending money on you just to show off, when they could have just as easily gotten you the DVD. How pretentious!
You're never going to finish that book you're writing, so why not just read one instead. The flip-side of this subtext is that Santa at least believes that you can read.
Scented: Receiving candles means that your home smells terrible and everyone wishes you would do something about it, especially if you're going to keep inviting people over for holiday celebrations.
Unscented: You're just too poor to afford lighting. On the plus side, though, you can be trusted around an open flame. So that's pretty positive!
Unless the item is your exact size, that piece of apparel was the first thing the gifter grabbed from the clearance rack. Then, the giver will tip his head and say, "I included the gift receipt for you to return it ... if it's the wrong size!" As if they didn't already know it's the wrong size!
A passive-aggressive way of saying, "You're a terrible cook who has the ability to ruin even a Hot Pocket."
The first thing this gift-giver thinks of when they think of you, is that you like to eat. It doesn't necessarily mean they think you're fat, but there's a good probability that is the case. (And, for God's sake, just don't prove them right by tearing into it on the spot.)
The person who gave you this is going to be asking you for a ride sometime in the near future; and if the amount on the card is over $25, it's probably going to be for a ride to the airport.
This says that you're so boring and without any specific interests that the gift-giver has no idea what you want. Or, they could be saying that they don't really know you. This one cuts both ways, though, because it also says of them that they're so uncreative, they couldn't come up with anything better. Wow, gift cards are kinda the worst gift you could ever give, huh?
You are fat. The upside? They think you might actually have the motivation to go and workout! (Prove them wrong just to spite them!)
By giving you expensive gems to wear, the gifter hopes you will be mugged. Or, like a magpie, you are a simple creature that is entranced by shiny objects.
They'd really have liked to give you a paper bag to cover up that thing you call a face, but that would be rude. This was their second choice.
They think you have terrible taste in music and just want you to have one album in your house that doesn't make them want to cry when you turn on the CD player.
The giver of a pen set must think you're graduating from high school. The subtext, then, is that the gifter has dementia. Christmas just got a little more sad.
They like your dog more than they like you. Woof.
They think you look tired. Or, you constantly complain how you "never have time to relax." Either way, shush up and get a facial.
The giver thinks that you're a man-child who has never grown up.
They're hoping that something happens to you on your trip and you never come back. This is especially apropos the more adventurous the vacation is. (A package deal to go swimming with sharks, for instance, should really raise an eyebrow.)
Wine and Spirits
You're an alcoholic who can only get through the holidays with relatives who give you back-handed gifts, like the ones above, completely wasted.
One word of warning, though: This guide cuts both ways! If you give any of these things, expect the recipient's eyes to narrow as they deduce your hidden meanings. In fact, the only way you, or any gifter, can hope to avoid adding subtext to a present, is to give them things they explicitly asked for. So stick to a person's list, and everything will be OK!