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Lisa, you can send all unwanted bath items right on up to me. I love baths.

Also, now I want to knit up actual toecovers, just to be ridiculous.


To me, nothing says "I gave you very little thought" like scented candles. Way overdone.


Fancy soaps are definitely on my toecover list. If it makes me smell weirder than I smelled going into the shower, I don't want it. And word up on being anti-bath; so much ew.

Some friends of mine went through a pickling phase a few years ago. Being inundated with random pickles and chutneys seems very toecovery, but they were actually super tasty. Now I drop subtle hints suggesting they should pick the hobby back up.


I'm ashamed that I gave some toecovers last year. The category? Things I purchased on a trip overseas. Yes, they were pretty and nice, but they were definitely along the lines of "I went to Hong Kong in the summertime and now you get this silk tissue-box cover for Christmas!" I have a lot of making up to do this Christmas.

Lesson: much like the cornrows that will look ridiculous when you get back home, gifts bought while on vacation can be quite inappropriate in a non-vacation context.

I love it when people shop my wish lists (Amazon and the "wishlist" tag I have on del.icio.us). When my mom asked me for a list last year, I pointed her in that direction, and she declined, saying that nothing on my lists appealed to her. Sigh.


Don’t get me started. Christmas is already weeks away and I’m already dreading the annual “Christmas team day.” Each year I try to suggest, (at first gently, but increasingly more firmly) – “no gifts please”, to no avail. Some people are just compelled to give something. There’s been “Secret Santa” which is annoying on two levels – first you have to spend a tiny amount of money to find a lovely gift for someone you really don’t know. Then I would end up receiving something incomprehensibly odd – scented candles seem tame compared to the strange junk I have been given. “Secret Santa” was shelved and then everyone (except me and one other person) decided to give token gifts. I’m assuming they meant “tokens of bad taste”. Away off to the dollar store they went! So now I arrive home after my afternoon of fun and fellowship and before I take off my coat I have two bags filled – one to go to Goodwill and one that goes straight in the garbage (some of the stuff is that bad). OK, I admit, one co-worker makes awesome homemade chocolates – they stay! And last year someone gave me a cheery $ store tea towel, and I kept that too (it was a little flimsy and then the dog chewed it and now it’s used as a rag.....but that’s another story.)

It’s so stressful. I sound like such a Scrooge.


Those weird oils with the suspended peppers are my toecovers. Am I supposed to cook with something that was sitting on the shelf in Kohl's for three months? Is this stuff really even edible? Is it just for display? What is it?

And I have a special category: Toecovers From My Mom. These include cute figurines (for me or my kids), personalized crap so my kids will fight over whose is whose, and photos printed on her cheap-ass printer and put into a cheap lucite frame purchased at the drugstore. (I've started giving the frames back, saying that I already have a frame for the grainy photos.)

Auntie Maim

Jane, your comment on the decorative-or-not oils reminded me: my toecovers are decorative consumables. I loathe decorative bottles of oil, jars of artfully-layered pasta, candles shaped like anthing, and the like. I'm not averse to decorative knick-knacks, I just think that having food you're obviously not meant to eat or candles that will horribly disfigure Santa or Buddha upon lighting are useless.


The worst toecover for me was a bright pink Mini Mouse t-shirt from a manager of mine while living in upstate NY. I have never owned/worn anything bright pink OR Disney related. A card would have been just fine.

Toecover gift for my husband is a sweater vest. His mother gets him a sweater vest every year for Christmas. They are usually a size or two too small. He has NEVER worn a sweater vest. He is not a sweater vest guy. Every year I make him try it on so I can laugh and think of the Simpsons episode when Lisa makes over Nelson (he wears a sweater vest) and he says, "I feel like such a tool!"

Toecover gift I love: Starbucks gift card. This was all the rage when I was working. One Christmas I received 10 of them. Yes, I prefer coffee from other places but it was much better than the stuffed animal someone gave me (hey I am not 9 years old!). I worked mainly with men so they never did the craftsy stuff.


Wow! I'm so honored!

I accidentally stumbled upon the ne plus ultra of Themed-Jar-Toecovers: the GAG gift in a jar. These are not just gifts into which the giver put little thought or effort, but which are *intentionally* completely useless.

When a pastor's wife believes a babyfood jar containing 4 tablespoons of dried beans labeled "Holiday Bubble Bath" is a great way to express season's greetings, the end is nigh.


When my mom asked me for a list last year, I pointed her in that direction, and she declined, saying that nothing on my lists appealed to her. Sigh.

Oh man, Jecca, my boyfriend's mom is the same way. Every year -- this is our fourth Christmas together -- she asks for a wish list, and every year I have my boyfriend politely remind her about my Amazon one. EVERY FREAKING YEAR she says that books aren't special enough for Christmas. Never mind that there are other things on it -- makeup and lotions that I actually want, etc. No, apparently a mug with Donald Duck on it is special, but a magazine subscription I really wanted isn't. GAH.

So then I finally started making a non-Amazon wishlist, comprised of allegedly more special things like sweaters and kitchen gadgets. Only to get lesser versions of the things I requested. Like, okay, I am a bit anal about things like this -- I have things I adore for very specific reasons, and I research just about every product I buy to make sure it's exactly the one I want. So if I request a specific kind of t-shirt I'm not saying, "I want a red shirt," I'm saying, "I want a red shirt that fits me like this one does." THEN I'm stuck with the dilemma: do I keep the hypothetical red shirt even though I don't like the way it fits me? Or do I go the extremely self-indulgent route of buying myself the red shirt I actually wanted in the first place, when I've got a brand new red shirt in my closet at home? Honestly, I would so much rather get a book that I really want than a sweater that looks kind of similar to the one I really want. I know I'm sounding really spoiled and annoying but it's like, if you want to get me something special, please believe me when I tell you what is special to me. You know?

Scented candles are usually toecovers in my book. Bath products and food products are "iffy" territory -- if the person knows me really well they can be perfect, but usually they're given by people who don't know me well at all. It's not about the actual gift, it's about the fact that they don't know me well enough to know my personal tastes, and they know they don't know me well enough for that, but they give it anyway. The whole "I'll pretend I put a lot of thought into this mango lotion if you pretend it's your favorite scent" interaction stresses me out.


Okay, I think I come off sounding really bad, so I want to clarify that I honestly do appreciate the thought and effort that people put into gifts, and if someone gets me something that I would not have chosen for myself, I'm okay with that. It's more that I really hate when people ask for a list and then don't follow it for whatever reason, whether they think that the items I've chosen to include on my list are too boring or easily substituted or whatever. If you want to pick out a gift for me by yourself then great! If you want me to tell you what I want, then okay, I will. But please don't make me tell you what I want and then make your own judgments on whether it's what I ACTUALLY want.


I'm not crazy about those mix in a jar things, but I do like homemade preserves, but they are different.

And just to be contrary, I always like getting stuff from the womens bean project. 10 bean soup and all :)


It's not so much that I mind bath products, but I could seriously run my own Bath and Body Works store out of my bathroom. I had a male roommate who would drag people in there just to show them the horror.

Alexandra sounds like me. Certain people will ask me for a wish list every year and then whine about it. For my birthday this year, well, one of my aunts outright refuses to get me books any more, not so much as a gift certificate. Noooooo. WTF? It's not like if I said, "Go buy me this yarn in a store," they'd do it instead.

I fucking hate gifting with regards to my family. Guess who won't give you wish lists, and apparently all they want are DVD's, of which they have a million?


Word, Alexandra, on all that and the guilt with the in-laws. They require a wishlist and typically everyone in the family ignores what I ask for.

My parents, though, now are the opposite and never really into the wishlist. Every birthday and Christmas they ask what I want and I have a few things in mind that they can typically pick up on their Costco run or whatever and then they always flake and send money. Which is also nice but has sort of become a tedious exercise.

I only get toecover gifts from my Mother-in-law so I guess I'm lucky there. No office gift exchanges. No wacky but well-meaning crafty friends. It's been a few years since I've gotten some cat-themed clothing from my MIL but I heard a rumor that I may get lucky this year. I'm kind of looking forward to it!


I had no idea people had such vitriol for people who took a little givers' license with wish lists. Wow. Never bothered me.

And call me trailer trash, but I actually think warm thoughts about the givers when I burn scented candles that people have given me.


My toe socks end up being things where I once mentioned a slight interested in something and someone decided that I was obsessed. The best example is Paula Deen who I found hilarious as a TV personality but not as someone who I'd look to for cooking advice. All of the sudden a friend decided I loved Paula Deen and got a subscription to her magazine and three of her cookbooks.


And just to rile folks up, here's one of the links to really useless toe socks.


Snowman poop. yeah, don't need.


Those decorative oils are actually NOT edible- I believe the tag usually says so.

I am sure there are people who LOVE those jars of oil, though-- and if you go to someone's house and that seems to be their "style," by all means, get them one. Plenty of people love scented candles or Beanie Babies and plenty of people do not.. I think that's the toecover definition for me- a gift that clearly says, "I got you this because I had to get you a gift, not because it bears any relation to the person I know you to be."


Exactly, Hannah.

And Alexandra, I don't think you came across badly at all. (Of course, could be because I agree with you.) It's not that I expect to be given exactly whatever my little heart desires. It's that it seems odd to be asked, very specifically, what I'd like, and then be told that what I'd like isn't right. Then don't ask! I enjoy receiving gifts I haven't asked for; it's the whole exchange and putdown of my taste that's irritating.

No way to say this without sounding petulant, but ... I actually went on Christmas list strike in my late teens. My parents asked me for a list again one year and I asked them why, since they never gave me anything on the list. Or anything related to the list. I always loved their non-list gifts, but it seemed tedious to go through the process of making the list (which was always a challenge for me), only to have it ignored every single year, year in and year out.

Re: toecovers I like: I also love getting Starbucks cards. I like most scented candles, too.


The toecover gifts from Mom? Summer-weight scarves (I have never worn scarves except in winter; I just can't get the hang of them) and necklaces. I've got about a million of both, and I finally realized that my friend's girls are old enough to want that sort of thing, so--regifting to the rescue!

Toecover gift from everyone else? Scented lotion. Heavily scented lotion. Lotion that give me a rash from across the room....

Alexandra, I feel the exact same way about people who ask you what you want and then totally ignore what you tell them in favor of, I dunno, a scarf, a necklace, and some scented lotion. I mean, why ask? If I tell you I want a particular thing, then I won't tell anyone else, so if you don't give it to me, I won't get it at all--it's just a tease!


I have sensitive skin, so I don't like fancy/scented anything, pretty much. As for candles, I view 'em as fire hazards. Now, food-based gifts I can typically find something to do with - I like cocoa and soup. But, given that I tend to feel obliged to use what someone has given me, or at least to not throw it out unused or re-gift it under most circumstances, I really would rather get nothing - or "just" a cute card - than a basket of scented soaps.

Yes, I'm ungrateful. I admit it.

I had no idea people had such vitriol for people who took a little givers' license with wish lists.

The trouble is that sometimes that "givers' license" means that the item isn't that useful. Generally, I put a lot of thought into the stuff on my wishlist and pick out items because they have the precise features that I need. Getting a teakettle without a drip-less spout, for example, would drive me crazy, because I would feel compelled to use it and would spill water EVERY TIME, because I'm klutzy that way. If something is too expensive, that's fine - get me something else, make a donation in my name, or just get me a card. (Or just give me your good wishes.)


I am going to be giving people Dutch toecovers this year from my trip. And you know what they will? FUCKING LIKE THEIR LITTLE CLOGS LIKE THEY SHOULD BECAUSE I DRAGGED IT HOME THROUGH CUSTOMS, GODDAMMIT.

I wish we could all just stop giving presents, period. No more presents, ever, except on completely random occasions when you saw something that really reminded you of someone else, whether it was Wasabi Funyuns or a piece of jewelry.


Not to beat a dead horse but the other thing about wishlists is that generally it is *not* everything my heart desires. I have made them out with things that I think are appropriate and within the means of the giver. Every year I get forced to make one by my in-laws and sometimes I do get a thing off of it (usually because my husband tells them, "No. Really. She wants *this* and nothing else.) but usually I get nothing from the list or similar to the list. One year, I asked for a colorful scarf. I did get a scarf, a slate grey one. Itchy, too.

As a side note, last year, I went out of my way to make a personal and gorgeous gift for my Mother-in-law. She is always hard to shop for -- she has everything. So I was really pleased to come up with something special and unique for her. In my eyes, it fell flat. I might as well have gotten her slippers. So, this year, I may get her a mix of cocoa in a jar -- I think she'd actually love that!


I think the moral of this story is that adults shouldn't be buying other adults gifts unless they're married or really, really want to. The end.


I am so glad that academic departments don't "do" gift-giving. I have on occasion brought in homemade baked goods, and that suffices. Thank goodness. And my family is small - we don't have many relatives left, so gifting is just the five of us in our immediate family.

My toecovers, though, are what would otherwise be welcome gifts. Somehow my family and friends manage to duplicate gifts on every single occasion. I've gotten two copies of DVDs, identical CDs, and once my dad got me the same book for two Christmases running. Apparently in the intervening year he'd forgotten he got me the book. Which I didn't like anyway. Whoops.

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